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My mom had gotten sick and wound up in the hospital and passed away 2 months later in the hospital. My dad thinks she's still alive and needs a ride home.

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Agree that an alternative answer should be provided, then his attention directed elsewhere. My sister was a psychiatric nurse and told me that when questions like that are asked, or other questions of questionable reality, there is no point in trying to be realistic because the brain isn't functioning properly (I won't get into the synapses and other explanations).

It was so sad to read about your father though; he must miss your mother so much but hasn't yet internalized her loss, and is dealing with his own confusion as well.

Can you think up things he really enjoys doing to redirect his attention when he asks about your mother? Maybe go for a walk, a drive, get a Dairy Queen, watch tv, something to redirect his attention. Or listen to music; music therapy has worked wonders for my parents.
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I would try to gauge how he is at the time he's asking. If he's agitated and particularly fuzzy, I'd be inclined to say "not today" and keep it as vague as possible instead of forcing him to accept her death again and again at times when he's most confused.
If he's more lucid, I might gently explain that mom is gone. I kind of like the idea of the memorial photo, except again, you'd have to gauge how he responds to it. It could backfire and become a real focus of agitation during particularly confusing moments. I could imagine him staring at it saying, "what on earth is this about!"
Though I agree that 'entering their world' is the kindest way to care for someone with dementia, people who aren't in the position really have no idea how exhausting it can be and how you give up a little bit of yourself each time you do it. It's hard enough for you to manage your own grief without having to do a complex dance around it for your father's sake. Deep breaths and silently counting to ten help me – a little bit : )
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I had and continue to have the same experience with my mom. Dad passed away almost two years ago but everyday, at least 20 times, she will ask "where's Dave?" I have tried to say things like "in the hospital getting tests" or something similar and she will say "he is gone, isn't he?" I generally just gently say he is in heaven and then maybe speculate on heaven for awhile. I have gotten a laugh when I make up silly things like "he is off in the Bahamas can you believe he didn't take us?" changing the subject works but it is difficult to think up constant distractions.....I guess, for me, it does not matter what I say because, as so many of us know, nothing sticks. I am grateful that, with time, she does not become hysterical anymore or blame me for not telling her...on some level she has internalized what has happened. Dealing with dementia calls for a lot of creativity (and energy) something that caregivers always wish they had more of!
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I like this as well as the photo...
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Posting signs does a lot to help Mom (95 with dementia) orient herself without constantly asking questions.

I got a kick out of the response about the sign that says "Your parents aren't in McDonald." After a while it does get tedious answering the same question. When Mom went through that stage I answered the question twice and the third time wrote the answer on a slip of paper and handed it to her.

An idea for the man who wants to go get his wife who passed away might be to put up a photo of her and label it with her birth/death dates and a loving phrase. This could be placed where he sees it often, maybe decorated with fresh flowers or something.
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Something to consider... when someone has dementia, they have difficulty expressing themselves. Things can come out oddly. Maybe dad needs to talk about mom. You could say, "Are you missing mom? Me too."
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Say, " Sure Dad"....moment to moment....
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I agree. I woudl suggest just telling him ok we will go as soon as I get done with what I am doing. If he still remembers, get him in the car for a ride. He is liable to forgeet and say lets go home.
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I agree. Give him a vague, plausible answer then redirect his attention to something else. If he continues to ask for your mom you'll have to be creative in coming up with scenarios but as your dad's dementia progresses his questioning is liable to stop. If your dad isn't able to remember that your mom passed away he won't remember that you went through this same conversation a day ago.
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I'm a big believer in 'gentle story telling'. 'Gee Dad, The doctor wants to keep Mom a few more days to be sure everything is all right' or, Mom got a little cold and the nurses can check on her and give her medicines right away. It's all repetitve to you but for him, it will be like a new story each time.
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