My dad has died and mom keeps forgetting. What do I do when she asks to call him?

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Please help me know what do when she wants to call my father who has died 2 weeks ago. She is really worried about him and it is heart breaking. She went to the funeral but has totally blocked it out.

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Hi Tara,
I'm sorry for the loss of your dad and this agony with your mom. Many of us have lived through this, so I'm glad you wrote.

I agree totally with most of these comments. My feeling is that after a death, we tell the surviving person with dementia just one time about the death. To me, that is about dignity. And you did that. You mom went to the funeral, after all.

After that, if they forget, why put them through it all over again? It brings pain to them, and their renewed grief will bring pain to you, as well.

Whatever could be keeping your dad away - a fishing trip, a business trip - anything that makes sense from their past as a couple, you can use. After saying he's busy, then say he'll be by when he can and quickly distract her to something else. You'll repeat this process often, but whatever you say you'll have to repeat it often, so why not make it easier on both of you?

If your mom doesn't have dementia and just temporarily block out your dad's death, then it's actually harder. My mom had mild dementia, and she blocked out his funeral. She just kept saying "did he really die?" That went on for weeks. There was, under the circumstances, no way to fudge the answer. It was awful for both of us. Mom didn't live too long after Dad died. I think part of her went with him. If this mirrors your situation more than the answers about dementia, then all I can tell you is that she will eventually ask less often. There's not a lot of comfort in that, but we're with you in spirit, if that helps at all.
Take care,
Carol
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Personally, I would not confront her over and over again with this very sad loss. Try to provide her some comfort and reassurance. She wants to call him where -- was he in a hospital, or nursing home? Can you say something like, "Dad is having tests all morning, and we can't talk to him." or "Dad is peaceful now after a hard morning of therapy. I didn't want to disturb him but the staff will call us if he needs anything. I left a message that we love him." Try to put her mind at ease that she doesn't need to worry about him. Perhaps she will gradually come to accept that he is gone. Perhaps not. In any case, having her constantly in a state of learning of his death for the first time does not serve any purpose, in my mind.

My mother didn't have dementia when my father died 15 years ago. She was fully aware of his death. Now she does have dementia. She recently asked why he didn't come with her to visit me. I told her he was haves a boys' weekend with his poker buddies why she and I had fun. She was having a bad day and was particularly fragile. Why cause her deep pain with "the truth"? The next day was better for her and she did not ask for Dad at all.

I'm sure what you are experiencing with your mother is heartbreaking for you, on top of your own grief at your dad's passing. Hugs to you as you try to be strong and kind. I hope there is someone else who can comfort you.
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My dad passed away three years ago before my mom's dementia got to the point that she could not manage on her own. Her brother passed away in November of 2012. Mom also went to the funeral although there was only once throughout that whole day that she understood exactly who had passed away and she cried and said that she didn't know that it was my uncle who had died. In the past year, mom asks more often about my father, her siblings and her mom. I used to tell her the truth which was puzzling to her briefly and sometimes very upsetting (depending on what kind of day she was having). For me and her, I now realize it is easier to say that they are doing well, the weather has been bad or they are really busy and will come see her when they get time. Mom will have moved on to another topic or we occupy her with something else. The truth serves no purpose to her any longer. For several weeks, it was troubling to my mom after my uncle passed away because she knew "something had happened" to him but could not remember what. Hopefully with time your mom can accept that your dad won't be coming to visit her. Or more likely she won't remember when she last saw him.This is particularly difficult for you because it is so recent.
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I am sorry for your loss. When your mom wants to speak to your dad, go to the phone, act like you are dialing, then say the line is busy you can call back later. Just keep doing this. She will forget more in time. Let her mind do the forgetting and do not say your dad is dead, at least not until she might say something about the funeral or whatever lead up to his death.
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My dad passed away in 2005. My mother started having dementia symptoms in 2011, so she was well aware what had happened to him. She only asks where he is when she is either in the hospital or in skilled nursing care after the hospital stay. Both of those places make the dementia even worse. She never forgets at home, only while she is there.

What I found helpful for me was to give a very quick answer such as "I don't know where he is" and then divert her attention elsewhere, eg. "Mom, I'm hungry are you?" She then focused not on where he was but on something else.
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akdaughter, I understand your concern. My husband had Lewy Body Dementia, which is characterized by great fluctuations -- good days/bad days, even good hours/bad hours. My mother has dementia and has mostly lucid days but some periodic bouts of confusion. Anything I've told either of them during their "bad" moments has never been remembered later. Neither has ever said, "Last night you told me so-and-so and it isn't true!" If they had I would have said, "Mom, you were so upset and confused yesterday I didn't think it was a good time to talk about that. I knew you'd be better later and we could talk then." But it has never come up. I cared for my husband nine and a half years, and my mother has had dementia a couple of years.

I think you can safely assume that if Mom is confused enough to be asking for Dad who died 6 years ago, that she isn't going to remember your exact response. And that is another reason for the fib. If you tell "the truth" she will be very upset but she won't remember the answer. So she'll ask again when she is confused and you'll have to go through the same trauma.

You are a great daughter to be thinking about how to handle this is the way that is best for Mom.
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Tell your Mom that he isn't home but will call him later. Maybe by then she will forget
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My mother wants to go home where "mama and daddy" are. I and my sister tell her that she has to bathe first, because her daddy wants her to be fresh when she comes over. After the bath, she usually has forgotten until the next late afternoon. Lying to my mom is no longer considered wrong to us. She doesn't know the difference and the lies keep her calm. A calm dementia patient is a manageable one. Just tell plausible lies she will soon accept your tale.
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annedb, my condolences on your father's death. I am sorry you are now dealing with your mother's cognitive problems. You have been honest. You have not tried to keep her husband's death from her. But rather than tell her over and over I think it is time to just say something comforting,. "Dad isn't here just now. He went over to Bob's to look at his fishing trip pictures," (or any half-way plausible explanation).and then try to distract her. "Speaking of pictures, would you help me look for box with reunion pictures?" Don't argue about whether he was in his chair this morning, just help her accept that he isn't here now. "He needed to leave to visit his sick friend Tom. He said you don't know Tom -- he is a guy who used to cut his hair. While he is gone I think I'll clean that chair. Where is your hand vac?"

You are mourning, too, and this must be very stressful for you. Hugs to all of you.
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I would jusy gently tell mom that dad has passed away..If he was sick before he died you might reassure her that he no longer suffers. You can also mention that he has gone to a better place. He does not have worry about terrorism, taxes or telephone calls trying to sell him something.
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