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My 76-year-old mother-in-law came to live with us 6 months ago. During my 12-year marriage, I have known her to be active, strong and very social even though she has had a profound hearing problem since childhood.

Since she has moved in, she has become much less active, and her mind and mood suffer substantially from this. On rare days when she gets out for a walk, I sense that her mind and memory return.

Often, though, she "forgets" that we've talked about something, and I'm trying to figure out if she hasn't heard me or understood me in the first place, if she has just forgotten that we had the same conversation yesterday, or if she is bringing the conversation back up again for social/emotional reasons because she *needs* me to make a change and doesn't know how to ask directly for it.

For example, for the last three days she has stood in front of my daughter's room to say, in a very concerned voice, "Her radio is on, even though she is not here." I have explained that I keep it on because *I* can hear it in the next room, and I also know that my daughter has enjoyed falling asleep to the music at night.

Did she not hear me the first time even though she nodded her head and walked away as if the mystery had been solved?

Did she not remember that we had the same conversation twice earlier?

Is she very frustrated that I'm wasting electricity by letting the radio stay on but doesn't know how to say, "It really bothers me that the radio is on?"

Does she need communication to happen differently? Is her memory failing quickly right now that she knows she is here and cared for by my husband and me? Is she irritated by how I am "running the house" and expressing that by repeatedly bringing up the same issues?

How do I sort through all of this in a sensitive way?

Thank you in advance!

--parsley

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This is helpful. Thank you, MishkaM.
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Hi parsley, Can you have her repeat what you say. Like for instance -with the radio-when you tell her why it is on say " Mom, can you tell me why I said the radio is on?". It will help you figure out if she heard you AND it might help her retain the info.
You mentioned that you are worried that her memory is failing more now because she is being taken care of but, my guess is, you just see her more now and are getting the real picture for the first time. She probably has had memory issues for awhile but was able cover them up for small durations but now that you see her 24-7 she cannot. Just a guess. We did not know my Grandma had dementia until after my Grandpa died suddenly from a heart attack. Poor guy-we actually thought HE was the one losing it because of the stories my grandma would say and my Grandpa didn't refute them much ( he was an amazing man). I think he hid my grandma's issues from everyone and just let her go on. Makes one wonder if it led to the heart attack. That is a lot to hold in. Sorry-I am rambling.
Anyway, I would try and have her repeat what you said. And I would try and word things a simply as possible with as few words as possible. Like -" I want the radio on. It is OK." instead of " I know daughter is not here but when I am home I like to hear it from the next room."
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