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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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