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My mother looks forward to our daily visits and cherishes me as a friend. One of the times in the past year that I told her I was her daughter and showed her pictures, etc., resulted in her being very angry and accusing me of wanting something from her (she has no assets) and thinking I was accusing her of having a child outside of wedlock. Another time, she cried and thought that she had abandoned me when I was a baby. Sometimes she talks about her daughter (me) and marvels at how much we have in common and wonders what she could have done to cause her daughter (me) to never visit.

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I keep going back to that first sentence you wrote, “My mother looks forward to our daily visits and cherishes me as a friend.”

That sentence is beautiful.

It may seem like little consolation when your mom is mentally declining, but you are SO lucky.

You are lucky that your mom has positive feelings toward you. You are lucky that you can visit her daily. You are lucky to be friends. Dementia and Covid have robbed so many of these gifts.

I know it hurts that she doesn’t recall your important role and relationship. It would be comforting if you could talk about the past. Sometimes it feels empty being the sole keeper of the memories.

Try your best to focus on the now. Try your best to keep the conversations positive and light - to avoid stifling or confusing her through correction. Criticism can be silencing. Let your visits bring her happiness and warmth, leave her feeling secure and as competent as possible. She will end her day a little more emotionally comfortable.

What about your emotional health? Allow yourself to be sad. Try to express your feelings of sadness and anger at times when you are not with her.

Don’t forget to take good care of yourself. Spend time with others in your life that you can discuss the past with. Revive relationships with old friends and family members you haven’t seen. Treat yourself when you are feeling sad. This is not easy.

Love her for who she is right now. Forgive her for forgetting.
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Reply to ACaringDaughter
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Harpcat Mar 10, 2021
This is an excellent answer!!!
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Three weeks in a row now I have had to explain to my mother who her children were. She’s puzzled about old photos of us on the wall, and asks. She’s increasingly unclear about how many children and grandchildren she has, and who we are. She’s at the point where she knows she should know, but still doesn’t really.

The best thing I have ever heard for how to deal with this came from a cousin who lost a parent to Alzheimer's:

“She may not know who I am, but I know who she is.” Love remembers.
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Reply to Goddatter
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Don't even try to convince her. Right now, my husband thinks I'm the maid. I tried a couple times to tell him I'm his wife, but he just laughs. His caregiver told him I'm his wife and that we've been married for 40 years and he said he didn't believe it. A couple of times he's called me by his high school girlfriends name. I know it's just his broken brain so it doesn't upset me that he doesn't know who I am sometimes, but it does hurt my heart that this f*ing disease is destroying a wonderful man
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Reply to Maple3044
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Why do you want to convince your poor Mom of something that she now, in her dementia, finds distressing and disturbing? At end of life I became more a friend that a daughter to my Mom. I took to calling her Francie, rather than Mom and she loved it. Please accept this. I understand how very difficult it is to have this loss of a person you love while they still sit before you, but that is what dementia is. That is what it does. And it cannot be changed. Don't take any pictures that distress your Mom. This happens to many people and happens indeed to wives whose husbands have found a "new love" in care places and introduce the visiting wife as "my friend". I am sorry for your pain, with all my heart, but this is something now not to cause your Mom distress over.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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One thing that I know for certain. You have to get beyond needing to be recognized as the daughter.

I learned at 10 years old that you can only worry about the loved one being happy to see you, regardless of who they think you are. Them feeling your love towards them and them being happy that you are there is as good as it gets with dementia.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Unfortunately this happens most of the time with LO who have dementia. As my mother's disease progressed I was everyone except for her daughter. I was usually one of the following: A classmate, worked with her or I was her friend. If I asked her if she had children she would say yes and tell me her daughter's name but the person standing before her (me) wasn't her daughter. I even told the staff at her memory care facility not to correct her, because she would become argumentative and it wasn't worth it. I finally adjusted to her reality and decided that each of the people that she thought I was made her happy for the moment. I know this isn't an easy pill to swallow but Alzheimer's / Dementia is a beast and you have to find a way to roll with the punches and sometimes the punches are below the belt. I don't wish this disease on anyone. Wishing you peace
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Brenda132 Mar 7, 2021
This made me cry. Its my new normal and very hard to adapt to this new reality but I agree with everything you said.
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You are not going to convince her. She may remember you asva younger person and you are now older. As the Dementia progresses she will go back in time. She will forget she was married. Had children. I really think my Mom thought I was her Mother who died at 43. Pictures may upset her because she does not remember that time. TV and dreams will become part of her reality.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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This problem comes up regularly, and there is no ‘real’ solution, only what can make you and your mother feel a bit better. One method I’ve read is to say that you are a friend of her daughter who can’t come to visit but likes to hear from you and sends her love to mother. You'll have eto think of a reason why she can't come (perhaps until next week, which of course gets forgotten). Fitting into that is to get a conversation going about her daughter (you) and things that happened when she was a child. You are in a great position to have a lot of information about that! And you can have heard from your imaginary friend (you) about incidents to get the conversation going. It’s sad, but it can be enjoyable for your mother. It can also reassure you about her love for you, that stays fresh even though she can’t recognise you as the person she still loves. Best wishes, Margaret
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disgustedtoo Mar 10, 2021
As much as it might hurt to not be recognized as her child, it's best to avoid trying to convince her. She is beyond capability to remember any of that, and since it angers her, it should be avoided.

Their self-image changes as well. Looking at a pic staff had taken of her, me and my daughter together, she asked who those "girls" were and then pointing to her own image, asked if that was Nana, aka her own mother (9 months after moving to MC, she started asking about and for her mother, gone 40+ years before!)

Up until the end, my mother still knew who I was. Although she was living her life from 40+ years ago (it was other discussions, not just her mother, that enabled me to know "when" she was living!), I would have been an adult at that time, albeit a bit younger. Even with the lockdown, she still knew who I was. A staff member took a pic when I was delivering supplies and showed it to mom. She asked why I didn't come in, didn't I want to see her? That was heartbreaking. Be happy that you CAN visit and that she cherishes your visits!

You can, as Margaret suggested, try making excuses for your "friend", mom's daughter, and ask about specific fun times/things you remember from long ago. You can say her daughter told you about these incidents and had fun talking about it, but you wanted to hear mom's side of the story!

The good news is that you KNOW your mom loves you, since she wants so bad to see you! Live vicariously through the "friend" that you have become.
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My mother most of the time thinks I am one of her sisters. She used to get mad if I said I was her daughter and would say "are you a twin?" ...with kind of an attitude. This was early on and I would just sob. I just did not know how to handle it. One day she told me she had "grown" to love me. Those words have been a comfort to me ever since she said them and I am at peace with her not knowing I'm her daughter. She does seem to know I am family and knows I love her by taking good care of her. Sending prayers and (((hugs))) This is very upsetting and hard to have to deal with.
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Reply to Countrygal55
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Forcing memories and forcing beliefs, in my experience with my mom, only leads to a conflict, confusion, and stress. It's a rock bottom place for two people to be at. Accepting that one's parent may not remember things, including them, is difficult, but far more truthful and real. It's a struggle. And it's challenging. Sounds like you put in a bit of time and work for your mom and she is not able to recognize it. You're going to have to remind yourself about all the good you are doing, whether or not it is noticed or appreciated by her. Caring for an elder with dementia is a special and very self-less opportunity.
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