How can I help my Mom with dementia cope with husband's loss?

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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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