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My father just passes, he was 96 and had a full rich life, including 60 years with my mother, who has moderate dementia. She knows he is gone and is depressed but she also starts confusing him with her long dead parents and gets very agitated. She also starts lashing out at the caregivers who come to our home. She is taking an anti-depressant and a mild sedative at night, because she was not sleeping at night, at least since my father went into the hospital for a fall two weeks before he died. How can I help her?

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I made a scrapbook of my dads funeral. Tread lightly. Some days you will be able to tell her he is gone and others you won't. Reading up on it I have learned to just go along with when she's at. She often does not think I am her daughter although she knows I have the same name as her daughter. I learned the lie to protect and comfort her is worth it. In dementia world, it is not a lie. Her daughter is spending the night at a friends, her hubs is out of town this week. Whatever it takes to help her relax so she can get through the day or go to bed at night. She too confuses her father with her husband. Me with her sister. Good luck.
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Thanks for all your helpful advice! My father was strong as an ox but we knew this day would come. My mother is receiving day and evening care now in our home, so she is getting attention and affection from us and a paid caregiver who has been with her for a few years. She is eating regularly, which is very positive. We are thinking of getting her an art teacher since she used to paint. It has only been a week so it will take time to adjust, they did everything together.
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I agree with the other post. My mom is 84 and had two husbands, 33 years each but now she wants to know what happened to her third husband she never had. She also gets so much stuff screwed around, wakes up from a dream that her was real. I use to correct her and still can't help myself at times but I'm getting better at just letting it go unless it's going to hurt someone. I have really found out other family and friends haven't a clue what caregivers go through yet never short of criticism or so called advice. I would definitely let her think the wrong thoughts as sad as it can be to see them mentally going away in front of your eyes.
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I will soon be living through this process. My Father is physically delicate, my Mom is mentally "delicate". They will be married 65 yrs this coming summer. If Dad dies first, Mom will go catastrophic and I worry for her. If she goes first, Dad will grieve terribly. Either way, I know I will need help when the time comes. They are entwined in the most bonding way and to loose one will be to loose the other soon after. Thank you for posting this question and for the responses.
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My condolences to you also. So many helpful responses here; I think moondance's sums it up the best: try to be the mom to your mom for now, and draw deep within yourself each day to be patient and kind with her. It's so hard, I know! One day at a time is my mantra and it's enormously calming.
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I would get your doctor to reduce, eliminate or check the sedatives she is taking.
I found a very mild sedative given to my father over 90 years old was harmful and disorientating for him. He lost his wife at 55 years of age and it really took him about 3 years to pick up the pieces and move on. He did but it is not easy but he had to accept it, he was happy for the years he was married.

Losing her spouse after a long marriage, is painful and she probably is filled with grief. She misses his daily presence. Getting through the death of a spouse is very difficult and she is likely overwhelmed. It takes lots of time, for some prayer to adjust to it. Your post said this was a recent death, expect at least a year for your mother to accept the loss. I found after acceptance, my father had the strength and desire to go on with life. However, he lived almost another 40 years as a widower, always considering himself my mother's husband. He talked about her every day of his life.

Good luck, it will get better for her but it will be a difficult first year as holidays come and go and she will feel the pain of the loss.
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My condolences to you & fam. My dad does the same. His wife passed 6yrs ago. He didn't have dementia then. I've been called her name and he only knows the one grandchild who lives in the house and doesn't know the others. I'm inclined to agree with everything as I try to get to his level of thinking. I'm ok with whatever is ok with him in the moment. I think they go in and out of their 'altered' state and is aware of what is going on at times and maybe this is the time when she is sad or angry. It is difficult, but see what works best for you both.
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If your father received hospice care, perhaps a conversation with the social worker and or chaplain could be helpful to both you and your mother. They are there to help not only the person in their care but the family as well. They may have some insights that you find beneficial.

While your mother's state of mind may be fluid, at this point you probably have a strong sense of what best suits her needs. That you are asking for input shows you care deeply for her well being.

My FIL had Parkinson's Disease and Lewy Body Dementia. His dreams were very vivid and he had trouble differentiating what was real and what was a dream. He was often agitated and anxious especially in the evenings (Sundowners). His neurologist prescribed hydroxyzine at bedtime for anxiety and it also helped him rest more comfortably.

I am so sorry for the loss of you father, and God bless you for taking such good care of your mother.
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Of course this is painful for your mom and she is grieving in her way, which varies with each person. I would say, "Mom, what can I do for you?" Maybe she would like to be left alone, be taken out to eat, shopping or a movie. Maybe you can cook for her and/or buy her something that she would love. Maybe there are support groups near her where people share their feelings who are also grieving a loved one. Treat her with love, kindness, patience and understanding. Grieving the loss of a spouse of many years could take a lot of time, unfortunately. Best of luck.
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I don't think there is any set way to help someone through grief. I think my mother had a difficult time expressing her grief, so it seemed shallow when my father died. I also had a hard time understanding it, because it was mixed with behaviors that go with her dementia. She always got up several times during the night, so it wasn't unusual that she kept doing this. She continued doing the odd things she had been doing for a while. I really couldn't sort through it, so I was just there. Thankfully she seemed to have an easier time with the grief than I thought she might. She knows he's gone and she misses him, but she's okay.

All we can really do is be there for them and give a helping hand if they need. Most people make it through grief okay. It is something we all have to face in our lives unless we die young. It helps my mother to think that her husband is waiting for her on the other side. This seems to help her miss him less and fear her own death less.

Taking it a day or an hour at a time is all I can say. Some people want to look at photos. Others don't. Most people like to talk about the good times. If she is able, let her make the decisions about when it is time to donate your father's things. Some people have a harder time letting go of things than others. I think it is okay to let them be the boss of that.

I am sorry for your father's loss and hope the next few months are filled with good memories of him, both for you and your mother.
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I have a cousin who has gone through this and may still go through this similar to what you are experiencing. My Uncle has been gone several years now. My cousin explained to me that her mom(my aunt) was always wondering why her husband never comes visit. My cousin told me she would explain as short and less details as possible that 'he'd turned ill and is 'bedridden'/resting and being cared for in another building/hospitcal and that he cannot have visitors because it would make him sicker. OR she would just say 'he's home sleeping and she'll see him soon'. The more progressive my aunts dementia is getting the less and less she is now asking about or even recalling her own husband.

The trick is to become a liar to your own parents after all these years of them instilling telling the truth. When it comes to patients with dementia...you can't continue to tell them the truth because they will react as if they are 2 years old again. Tempers can flare, name calling their own children for the lies they are telling(especially if she believes her husband to be alive-in her own version of her reality), and bitterness will fill them.

Not only lie about this topic. But begin to lie about other topics that seem to disrupt your mothers personal reality universe. Try to remember that the more you are truthful to the actual facts with her the more she will resent you for 'upsetting her reality'. Sure she may have many moments of clarity and true reality ah huh moments that bring her back to 'your reality' but it will be short-lived.

Hugs and baby steps. One day at a time. Adjust your stories accordingly as time passes. One day a year or two from now(if not sooner) she will no longer ask...and once that happens...you no longer bring up the subject of your dad/her husband. It will become a topic to be shelved and never spoken of again.
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Our condolences as well. This is very hard for you, having lost your mother's mind and now your father. We live that, too. My wife's dad passed over the summer and her mother has dementia. It's a double whammy in a number of different ways.

MIL does remember that she had a husband and that he is now dead...unless she sees him walking around the center where she is which she has reported to us more recently. They were a couple for 76 years and had almost made 74 years married when FIL passed. Grief is difficult thing for anyone, but just imagine what it must be like to have lost her ability to remember and think clearly and to lose her husband on top of it. Odd responses? You bet!

In our situation, MIL immediately started looking for another husband. She seemed to know that FIL probably wasn't coming back to the center where they were and began trying to connect with another resident. After FIL passed, she was fully after him. This other resident has since left the center, but MIL is still looking for another man. It's very painful to watch, especially for my wife. There's no reasoning with a dementia/Alzheimer's parent, so all we can do is humor her. I told my MIL I was going to find her a big net to catch a husband, which made my MIL laugh a little. When MIL gets to heaven and regains her mind, it's hard to imagine her not being very embarrassed as this part of her life is reviewed. This would NEVER have been her.

There's no way to sugar coat it...the situation is just awful and we know what you're going through. Pray for strength and take each step one at a time.
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Tell her doctor and switch antidepressants. Not everyone responds well to certain ones, and it is an art to find the right one. So what if she still misses him and/or confuses him with her parents? She was married for 60 yrs. and she is still grieving. She has dementia and will act the way her brain tells her to act. No amount of medication will change that much. Just be patient with her.
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My condolences on your Father's death. Maybe you could help your Mom and yourself by directing the conversation to some of her best memories of their life together. That usually helps me when I really miss a loved one who has passed away.
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Change the subject, nip it in the bud! Sueber48 has it correct in her last sentence, they talk about the deceased all the time, as if they were still alive, as they cannot remember the dying part, and trying to explain it will drive you and them mad. After a while you get to know when a difficult conversation is about to start, here it's car, car keys, got to see Mom, I just start a different conversation or get up and say, be right back, going to get you some ice cream, it's over in minutes without all the hassle. It's hard but hang in there with your Mom, my husband is 83 I do not even tell him anymore if someone has passed away, he just cannt grasp it.
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Listen to her, don't judge her & keep her safe. Your turn to be a mom for your mom. That pendulum always swings!
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Sometimes my mother thinks I'm her sister, sometimes I'm my own daughter in her eyes. My son and my uncle are interchangeable. She was pretty sharp until about 5 years ago when she had a stroke. It's been down hill gradually since then. UTIs seem to be the worst thing to bring up confusion and irritability.
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So sorry. I find the best strategy is to try to go with the every day. My Mom insisted I was her sister. She asked for her mother regularly (even though she had been dead for over 30 years). I stopped trying to set things straight. My goal was to keep her from getting upset. I would say that her Mom was fine but was away. I let her think I was her sister. Just think of what keeps her peaceful. Telling her that her mother was dead only had her mourning all over again. Best wishes.
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