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My mom thinks her deceased parents live in our former family home. She often says "let's go back to the house, my parents are there." I was thinking about sending her a christmas card and maybe letters signed by her parents. I thought it might make her feel better. Is there any harm in it?

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bailey33, I know this is difficult for you and for your mom. Your heart is in the right place and I am sure that you do your best for your mom. Offer your mom lots of of hugs and lots reassurance and know that your best is enough. God bless you...and her, too.
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I once knew a resident in a nursing home who was constantly anxious and concerned about the whereabouts of her check. She asked everyone she came in contact with about her check over and over and over. No response was reassuring to her nor stopped her constant questions. Finally, someone got the idea to make a phony check and give it to the resident hoping this would put and end to her anxiety over her check. But, as soon as the resident was given her pretend "check," she began asking when she could go to the bank to cash it!

I think you might find your results would be similar if you fabricated a Christmas card and letters from your mom's parents. Most likely she will be more determined than ever to go to see them. The fake Christmas card and letters will be "proof" that her parents ARE alive and at their house.

I think that it would be wrong to carry through with your idea. It might just cause your mom more anxiety, confusion and upset and might create another problem bigger than the first. Reassure mom that her parents are fine but are not at home and then distract her with something else.
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These are very helpful answers. I feel my mom slipping away more each day and am trying to figure out a way to help her feel safe and loved and not alone and come to terms with my own panic that keeps swelling up. This is so tough.
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MaryLou, I wish I would've thought of that when my grandmother was still alive. She would've enjoyed hearing me read her immigrant father's journal of her family tree that included her 7 siblings. She liked to "remember" them for a minute, but she didn't obsess and forgot quickly, as best as I could tell.
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I can see both positions of those who say DON'T and those who encourage you. What about this? My Mom is a pack rat, she had all kinds of letters and cards from all kinds of people that wrote to her over the years. I found all kinds of greeting cards from different holidays - what if you mom has some of those from her parents and you pull them out and let her read them again, for the next time she asks?
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Has it occurred to you to say something like, "Grandma and Granddad have gone away for a while, but I'm sure you will get to see them soon enough," instead of sending a card from them? If you send a card, she may feel rejected, like they don't expect her to come "home" this year. That rejected feeling would be a horrible thing for your mother to go through. Just making the statement
above gives her some truth to hold on to.

I send my own mthr cards "signed" with a note about their lives "by" my adult kids (who dislike her because she abused me, and I'm good with that). These give her news about them and allow the other residents to hear about her grandchildren. I also send her the "thinking of you" cards that an older secretary sends to my husband, with his name on the card covered with a sticker, and a, "Dear Mary," written at the top beside the sticker. I put that in a new envelope with a labeled address, and she's just as happy with that note from Myrtle as if it were from one of her own cousins. She can't remember who Myrtle is (nor my kids' names) but she must know them, so she proudly passes that one to her friends too.

Everyone in her small memory care passes around each others' cards, and the staff reads them to the group. Since I found out about this, whenever we go to a store or museum with postcards, we buy several, and send them to her every few days. It gives her something to look forward to. You would not believe the number of cards and postcards she has accumulated over 4.5 years.
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What a lovely thoughtful person you are to even have thought of doing this however it is misguided to send that card but your heart is in the right place to have even thought of doing - your mom would have been pleased with how big your heart is if you could have told her.... so I am doing for her GOOD ON YOU
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I personally don't think there's any harm in it. I'm basing that non professional opinion on how my grandmother acted and "remembered" things when she was 10 years into dementia, around 100-103 yo. She had pleasant memories of her parents, and her late husband. She would ask about them, and while I told her in a nice way that they had passed, because "remember, you're quite an older lady yourself, so your parents would be very old, so they died..." And that didn't seem to bother her, my saying they were deceased. I also think her reaction to getting a card from them would've been the same sort of harmless "Oh, how nice, I should call or visit them sometime." And then she'd forget about it, but for a moment, she would feel loved and comforted by the few things still familiar to her -- her parents. I wasn't familiar to her. No matter how often I reminded her who I was, she couldn't remember that I was her youngest granddaughter. She couldn't remember that her youngest son had married and had children. She COULD remember her parents.

I think a card could make her feel, for a moment, like she still had those family ties she treasured. She loved to talk about her parents and her childhood.

Just some thoughts.
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Bailey33 Freqflyer is dead right. While it's a lovely gesture of kindness on Your part, it could back fire and You'd be in a right mess then. It is better to go along with Your Mom's delusions, but never create illusions for Your Mom.
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I agree with others here - I think this is just going a bit too far with the delusions. Sometimes "going with it" when it comes to the delusions our elders have is harmless - like when my Dad insisted there were little Santa Clauses running around on the floor and warned us not to step on them, or when he insisted he was eating something and kept miming using a spoon to scoop it into his mouth. Harmless enough to just go with those and let him work through the delusion himself. But sending cards from deceased parents plays into the delusion to the point of possibly causing emotional harm, I think.

Prime example: my uncle was pretty deep into dementia when my father (his brother) passed away. We insisted he be told, thinking he had a right to know. Big mistake. He was so far into dementia that he would forget something you told him and ask about it again 5 minutes later. Telling him his only brother had died caused him pain when he was told - then again later when he forgot and asked about how his brother was doing and then he'd say, "Oh....did he die? He died, didn't he?" and he'd be sad all over again. Worst mistake we ever made was telling him that Dad had died. He would have been far better off if we hadn't told him at all.

If your mom wants to believe her parents are still living, let her - but I wouldn't advise promoting the delusion any further by giving her cards signed from them. If she happens to have a few moments of lucidity and remembers they are gone, the cards can only cause confusion and pain.
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I agree, it is not advisable, It would be like opening up and old wound. You heart is in the right place but your thoughts are wrong. Like the old Beatles song, "Let it Be" or the old phrase; "let sleeping dogs lay"
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I'm in agreement that this could cause more problems than be helpful. With advanced dementia we tend to think they'll quickly forget about "it" - whatever "it" may be, but you never know what tidbit or fragment their mind will grab into and have them worrying the issue like the proverbial dog with a bone.
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My mom had the same feelings. I told her everyone was out and about for Christmas and wouldn't be home. What I suggested was to write Christmas cards to anyone she wanted. I wrote the comments and she signed them. She said she liked the idea of having a personal secretary. I told her I would mail them when I got home which I never did. She made out cards to 10 dead relatives! Mom passed away in May. I brought out the cards last week that we had done last Christmas and it was heartwarming to know I helped her in some small way to "reconnect" with her relatives. I will always keep those cards.
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This brings to mind a very interesting article by Carol Bradley Bursack, where she describes going along with her Dad's delusions by making fake degrees and honor certificates and hanging them on his wall. He thought he had done all those things.

I'm not sure it is always wrong to "pretend" that what the person with dementia believes is real. And even to make up evidence for the belief. I think Carol did a good thing for her Dad.

In this case, my only concern would be if this causes Bailey's mom to be more adamant to see her parents. I don't know how you could predict that one way or the other. Bailey, I think your instincts are correct, to try to get into your mom's world and give her pleasure there. I guess the question is, how likely is this to backfire?

You can read Carol's article here: https://www.agingcare.com/articles/playing-along-with-dementia-realities-121365.htm
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When faced with a delusion, redirect to pleasant realities.
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Can you substitute by getting other family members (siblings, cousins, etc.) sending periodic cards to her? I know it's her parents she misses and other family members aren't the same, but perhaps they can remind her that she's still in their hearts and thoughts.
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I don't see what purpose it would serve beyond giving a few seconds of enjoyment. What if then she wanted to drive over to see them? Or wondered why they didn't come see her? I don't think sending fraudulent cards could do anything good and, like others said, could backfire.
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cwillie's right. It's one thing to not contradict her delusions. You do that for her own good. But to craft an elaborate lie may have unintended consequences.
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Agree I think it would cause Mom more anguish and confusion. I would just be noncommittal. Say something neutral. I am glad they are still happy there and change the subject
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It is one thing to go along with their delusions, it just seems a step too far to me to actively encourage them. And I agree that it might backfire in ways you can't foresee.
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I wouldn't do it, even though it would be a nice gesture, it could backfire. One thing would be the handwriting. Your Mom would remember how her mother wrote or signed cards. If the handwriting isn't the same, certain phases wouldn't be the same, it could bother her. Then she would really insist on seeing her parents.
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