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My Dad sometimes remembers Mom has passed but often he forgets. Sometimes he asks if Mom is in the hospital, and other times he asks if she has died. He has some dementia, he forgets some things, but not others. In many ways he is still himself, and we can talk together. He is so loving and caring, as he was to my Mom who passed away a few days ago.
Will this change? How do I handle it?
We sing, we pray, and talk about how Mom is happy now in heaven, no more sorrow, no more pain. Each time though, when Dad forgets, he cries, and I cry and it's like starting the grieving all over again. I think of it like this: finding out something traumatic every hour. I feel for him, and cry for him too and for the loss of my Mom, and it's like I am grieving twice, for I grieved when she first got Alzheimer and never knew it would be so hard when she passed.

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It sounds heartbreaking. I know that my cousin, who has profound dementia, still remembers her parents. She has forgotten most everything else, including names, personal history, etc., but, she does recognize me as someone who loves and comforts her AND her parents. I will show her their photos and she says who they are. Back when she was more verbal, she told me that she wasn't sure if they were still living or not. I told her that they were living in our hearts and she seemed okay with that. Sometimes, when she is tired, she will call out, Mommy and Daddy. Her psychiatrist says that she has reverted back to her earliest memories from childhood. If it brings her comfort, I hope she will retain those memories.
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If I were you when he asks if his wife is away or in the hospital I would just go with that.
It seems sad for him to loose his wife over and over and that is what is happening in his mind.
If he asks to go visit her, tell him that she can not have visitors just yet or gently change the subject.
Ask how they met...where they went on a date...what was the wedding like...where did they go on their honeymoon there are all sorts of things that you might learn.

Will this change..maybe. 
As he declines he will begin to loose verbal skills.  And you do not know when that may happen.  So talk now, record what you can.  And when he repeats things over and over while it may be annoying now remember there may be a time when you will long to hear his voice even if it would be to ask the same questions over and over. 
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My husband has ALZ and does not remember being married or having children but will always ask how his sister who is 91 is doing and how his mother is. I just say they are fine and he just says "oh that's good" and at the next visit the same question and answer. What a strange disease. He does not ask about his brother that died or his father. I see no reason to confuse him even more.
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That's so sad. My mother does the same thing, asking about my dad who passed in 2011. Typically she will say, "Have you seen your father?" and we'll respond that we haven't and try to redirect her. She asks about him less now. I think she is living more and more in her own mind these days. I agree with Sunnygirl; if she's living in the past, I hope my mom can hang onto those memories and continue to do so.
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Thank you so much for sharing. I think that you found a perfect way to comfort her telling her that her parents are living in her heart, for they are always a part of us. I hope your cousin keeps her memories of childhood, they are precious memories to her. She is blessed to have you. I think deep down she knows you, it's a precious memory in her heart.
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When my FIL moved to a SNF and eventually a memory unit within the facility he would ask where MIL (she had passed several years earlier) was and why she had not visited. We would find a simple reason why. He might then ask about his parents and did they know where he was. His mother died when he was 5 and he moved in with the school teacher. We assured him they knew where he was and were watching over him. His big concern was that he would need to find a job and a new place to live when he was better and we told him that the family (he had 5 surviving children) would make sure he always had a place to live. By the time he was moved into the memory unit most of these questions stopped and he was just happy to see whoever visited. Strangely he had a hard time recognizing his children but when I visited he always knew who I was. We did bring him home once for Christmas dinner just a few months after he moved to the SNF. He was scared and confused did not know who the people were and where he was. As I was sitting with him after dinner he asked if this was where he & his wife used to live and hoped that maybe one day his children would get to see it. Two of his daughters and his SIL still lived in the farmhouse. After that we arranged with the SNF to use a conference room and celebrate his birthday and holidays there with him. It was much better for everyone.
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And polarbear123, my sympathies on the loss of your dear mother.

I think with time, your father will accept that your mother has passed. I think you're handling things very well.
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I now realize that hardly anybody in all of humanity is free from dramas of this nature. My sister passed at 47. My father died two years later after having suffered two strokes in result of her loss. My mother is still hanging around, God knows where she finds the strength.
After she passed, my father's memory also began to play tricks on him. He had many moments that he would ask us why she hasn't been saying anything (she lived in Ontario, he lived in Montreal). We would simply make something up not to make him hurt even more. It was bad enough when he did remember and he cried in his death bed where he was trapped in his body until he started to decompose before he even passed (last month).
It was, and still is, so sad and so very difficult. There isn't much we can do about it except to try to accept that we are practically helpless in these situations. The only thing we can do is give our loved ones comfort and try to help them in whichever way we can.
We cannot feel guilt, it's not our fault.
All the best!
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During my visits with my LO in Memory Care, I will take selfies of us. I then show it to my LO and she smiles, but, she doesn't know who the people in the photo are. One day she said that her image was her brother. She doesn't have a brother. I just smile.  We still have good visits, even though her perceptions of who people are has declined.  
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The problem is if you keep answering your father that your mother is deceased it will continue to cause him much anguish. The point is since your father doesn't remember you will have to keep telling him his wife is no longer alive. In the world of Alzheimer's and dementia care, there is a concept called "therapeutic sharing of misinformation". To reduce his stress simply tell him that his wife isn't home right now and redirect the conversation to something else or get him involved in an activity. Many folks prefer to not use this technique because they feel they are lying to their loved one. The truth of the matter is that it is one of a variety of creative techniques that can be used in the best interest of therapeutic memory care that reduces anxiety and frustration for the demented. It can also reduce your stress levels when you don't have to continually tell you father that his wife is deceased. Blessings for what you do!!
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