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I tried finding the answer on here but no answer fit quite right. My grandfather has dementia and his wife of 67 years passed away 5 months ago. The first couple of months he knew she was gone, accepted it and talked about good memories and how he misses her. However, now he doesn't believe she is gone. He thinks that because we moved her bed from the dining room that she saw that and left him to go into a nursing home for better care. He has now been sending letters to all the nursing homes in NH and Maine addressed to his wife asking her to come home. He still has his drivers license and we are worried that he will begin going to the nursing homes when my grandmother doesn't respond to his letters. We tried explaining to him that she had passed away whenever he would ask where she was, but now he just won't believe it. He even says she was just here this morning. We switched our approach to telling him lies. "She is at the store" etc. but that has only fueled the fire and he is now always worried that she hasn't made it home yet. He even had us move her bed from upstairs back into the dining room so if she came to visit again she would see it was back in place and decide to stay. I know there may be no real solution to this but we're looking for help and advice any where we can. Thank you!

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When he asks about her, try to talk about something else.
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I wonder if having Mom write him a letter from Heaven would help. She can tell him how happy she is but misses him and can't wait for him to join her. She can talk of all the dead relatives she has met and the old times they have talked about and ask him if he remember such and such an event.
Just an idea don't know if it would work or not.
When I was extremely ill in hospital i went to visit my mother in what I assumed was Heaven. She was not too pleased to see me. I also saw one of my aunts smiling happily out in the sun with other family member but she did not speak to me
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You're received some amazing useful / educational, psychological and emotionally sensitive ideas here. I'm impressed. While there is no easy or sure-answer (ever), I tuned into the response "redirecting his words - back and shifting the focus of the conversation. It seems to me:
(1) getting out the grief and feelings however he can by sharing how he feels is critically important; ask him "if you could tell xxx now, what would you say to her?"
(2) many of us in very sound mind have challenges accepting death, even though we know it. It is a difficult reality for all of us - and so much more complicated by dementia;
(3) I certainly agree with the car concern-if need be, get MD letter indicating he is unable to drive and alert the local police department.
(4) Get him to talk about his wife as much as possible while also re-directing his attention, both verbally and physically (get him to day-care or get volunteers in to talk to him).
(5) I am no expert in dementia issues - I know some people go to the darkness and hallucinate. I would ask MD about (more) medication to help with this aspect of his behavior; and
(6) Aspects of some of the above may work some of the time. Try to not get discouraged realizing that the key is always a combination lock to open that door, and the combination keeps changing. (I used this image myself to lose/maintain 70+ lbs - and that is another story.
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All the answers are good -go with the flow. As to the driving, if he can't remember even if he normally doesn't drive, make sure there is no car available that works. Too many confused people are in accidents or go somewhere not to be found for weeks or months.
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Stop the driving A.S.AP. - whatever way you need to do

Was there an obit in your paper? - if so then frame it so you can show him when he is like that - this might be enough - if not do it now - he won't see the date on it

What about getting him to use 'her' bed in dining room? - say now that she is gone she probably would like him to have it, to be closer together - try telling him that anytime he dreams of her then she is sending her love to him - give him something to hold onto where she is concerned - if she had a favourite afghan place it on the bed so he can sleep under it & dream of her & their love together
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My wife is that way about her mom and dad and her husband which is me. I just tell her they had business to take care of and we will talk to them when they get back. She says okay and forgets. I tell her the same words every time. Sometimes she will say they must have business to tend to. Otherwise one will go nuts. : ))
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I liked the answer to take him to the grave. Show him she is gone and let him grieve. After that if he asks where she is tell a little white lie. I read that u should not continue to tell them a loved one has died. They grieve all over again and that is cruel. I also agree, its time to take the car away. A friends husband lost his pants where he kept his wallet and keys. She told him without his liense he couldn't drive and he excepted that. The pants were finally found stuffed under the mattress. My friend hid his wallet and keys. She sold the car and bought herself a smaller one.
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My mom did the same thing and my dad had been gone 27 years. I told her he was OK and working hard and I would let him know how she was, etc. She accepted this. As the doctor told me "go with the flow". When you try to correct them, they can feel anxiety and not trust you. It does no harm in letting them think what they want. What I found to occupy mom was to get the book "A Story of a Lifetime". I asked mom the questions (she loved to go back so many many years and with sharpness) and I wrote them down for her. She loved this. She like the idea of having a "personal secretary" and loved telling the stories of her past. When she passed away the book was complete and I find myself reading it from time to time with such joy. I learned a lot about my mom from this book. Perhaps you can do the same. It's become a priceless keepsake.
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I can't imagine how disorienting it would be to lose your life partner of 67 years. At that point you are so interdependent that it would be like losing a part of yourself.

For about a year after my father died, I would be in store and think, "I wonder if that jigsaw puzzle would appeal to Dad. ... Oh." I knew he was dead. But a part of me still acted, momentarily, as if he weren't. And the same thing happened after my mother died. I'd check emails expecting to see one from the sister who visited the nursing home that day. Oh. No one visits now. And in stores I would think "That looks like a good door decoration for Ma. ... Oh."

My husband died in our bedroom, holding my hand, almost 5 years ago. Certainly I knew and accepted that he was dead. But for a long time my ears perked up at every noise I heard, listening to see if my husband needed help. I think that gradually tapered off over a year.

Other people have told me of similar experiences.

I think many of us accept the death when it happens but need more time to fully assimilate all that this means. I can only guess how terribly difficult this must be for people whose minds aren't fully functioning.

Poor Grandfather. My heart really goes out to him! He is in mourning and can't even process those complex feelings.

Are there scrapbooks or shoeboxes full of family photographs. Sitting with him and reviewing the oldest ones may be comforting to him. (Not necessarily in response to a question about his late wife.) My mother loved going through old albums, even though she couldn't remember the events. It was comforting, I guess, to realize that once she had an active and fun relationship with her sister, that she was a good mother, etc. The scrapbooks were evidence of who she was.

When you are in mourning, it is good to hear kind memories of the deceased. Perhaps your family could share memories with Grandfather from time to time. After all, you are in mourning too (on a different level), and reminiscing would be good for all of you.
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In a case like this, I find half-truths to be best.

Grammy will be home later tends to work well.

For whatever reasons, your grandfather needs to still have your grandmother - so let him. It does no harm. In the long-run, it should keep him calmer and that is a good thing.

If you have pictures of your grandmother, place them where he can see them.

My dad knew my mother had passed, but I told him to go ahead and talk to her - it does no harm. It's really comforting to say goodnight to a person you love, even if they're no longer there. (I did it whenever my DH was away - I just said goodnight, I love you, as if he was also in the bed. Fell asleep easily that way. And yes, I knew he wasn't there - so what.)
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Hi, I don't know exactly, only that this is common, and it is not resolved by arguing and i actually think it perpetuates it to play along to the point of inventing where she is - like sending letters back from the nursing home, as if from her - glad that was offered with tentativeness and i see the good wishes behind it. I've usually responded just with emotional identification - like "you had such a great relationship", "you were so lucky to have a happy marriage, so many people don't." "You had each other for so long, again, many people don't" - and give a hug and let the subject go as you move to other activities. It will keep coming up for periods of time. And sometimes tell him how you miss her, or remember various things, and laugh, and say how glad you are that you still have him!

About driving: you say he has his license, but does he actually drive today? Many elders continue to have their license, even when they have stopped driving. That question needs to be separate from the idea that he would go to nursing homes to seek his wife - if he actually doesn't drive, he would find a reason not to go, if he actually began planning to do so. And if he does still drive, that's a question in itself, how dangerous is he, does he just drive in mornings locally, which may be OK - that's an issue, and elders resist but eventually come to accept that they may cause an accident by continuing to drive, so they finally stop driving.

If he does drive safely and uses the car, then it is no big deal if he shows up at a nursing home looking for his wife - you would get a phonecall, and would come and get him - people who work there are perfectly familiar with elders with memory issues.

Sounds like you had a close family, good for you, and for doing your best in a time of loss and changes. You have this time to grieve and remember and celebrate together.
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I cannot add much to this stream of suggestions. You will just have to continue trial and error. In time he will not be as able as he is now and it will get easier. Do disable the car, you do not want him to drive and become lost and never make it home again.

My mother tended to have a much tighter hold on the "bad" things that happened. Taking him to the cemetery and seeing a grave marker might be "bad" enough to stick with him. Plus it is concrete in that he experiences it with numerous senses; touch, sight, smell. And he would experience it for as long as he is there...5 minutes? A half hour? That may make more of an impression than a thirty second discussion that only involves hearing. If she was cremated and no stone exists, you could get a name plate with dates etc. put on her urn so he can see it and touch it.
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I am going to address one part of your question first.
Take away the keys your Grandpa should not be driving.
This could be a great liability for him and possibly you.
Disable the car, sell it, hide the keys, what ever you have to do do it to protect you, him and the rest of the drivers and pedestrians in the surrounding area.

No to how to deal with the rest of the problem.
Can you intercept the letters?
If so can you write back, as your Grandma and tell him everything is well, you miss him and that he should not worry. Tell him she is not permitted visitors at this point but she will continue to write to him.

Personally I would not do this but it is unusual that a person with dementia is this persistent and does not accept the "usual" she has gone to the store, she is at the doctors, and what ever else is told to placate the one asking the questions.

Also depending on how advanced your Grandpa is you might want to consider moving his bed downstairs. Stairs can be a problem and if he begins wandering at night you do not want him falling down the stairs. A broken hip is a difficult recovery for someone with dementia, the surgery is a set back and rehab is difficult if they can not follow directions easily.

I sort of have to laugh your Grandpa sounds like tough, stubborn, New England Stock! About the only thing more stubborn for me (also from New England) was the "Stubborn Pigheaded German" I was married to for over 30 years!
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I'd sure disable his car or haul it away ASAP without his knowing and tell him it needs work but don't let him drive it anymore. It's only a matter of time before he takes off looking for her and ends up who knows where. Interesting that he is still able to write addresses to nursing homes, knows to put a stamp on the letters and mails them. My mother in the NH daily asks for my dad (and lately both her parents), and it seems to work for awhile when I tell her dad's getting ready for work or is cutting the grass and will come by later. It may never really sink in that his wife is really gone.
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Be sure to write to the nursing homes telling them to refuse the letters and/or return to sender. Tell him often that she would never divorce him and/or live with somone. If you think he can accept the reality of her death, take him to the cemetery to see the monument. If you have arranged for him to be buried there when the time comes, tell him so. Do whatever you have to that will keep him from driving. Leave her bed where it is now. It may be of some comfort to him. I wish you peace.
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I feel for you too, as this is a tough situation for your grandfather and family. Generally you have to accept a person with dementia's reality, but it's tough when it's causing them distress or when it's really disrupting the household.

I would say you have to just keep experimenting with what you say and do. On one hand, keep experimenting with the fiblets (the "little lies").

On the other hand, see if there's a way you can acknowledge his thinking about her and then redirect his attention. For instance, you could try saying "You're thinking of her? You wish she were here?" and then ask him to tell you more about her and how they met. Or maybe redirect him towards doing some benign activity that she would appreciate, like something in the garden or house.

In general, if you occupy him enough with physical and social activities, he might end up less anxious about his late wife's whereabouts.

On another front: if he is that forgetful, then I would be a little concerned about him continuing to drive. So at some point, your family may want to think about how to approach the issue of his stopping driving. The Alzheimer's Association has some good handouts on this topic:
https://www.alz.org/national/documents/topicsheet_driving.pdf
http://www.alz.org/documents_custom/statements/Driving_and_Dementia.pdf

Good luck!
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I can't give you advice, but I feel for you. My dad died 13 years ago, a couple of months before my parents 56th wedding anniversary. Since my mom was diagnosed with dementia, she thinks he divorced her and is living with someone else. I've told her he died, but she doesn't remember my telling her for very long. They were devoted to each other, so it's very painful. I wish I had a solution for you.
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