I understand that delusions and confabulation are common in dementia patients. I understand not to argue and accept their reality as best you can, but... I am not always successful in that effort and am having a really difficult time with my Mother. She is 91, the last remaining of her family. Her last remaining sibling, her brother, died four years ago, and my Mother has it in her head that he left her everything of his estate. He didn't. He left it to his wife. I was executor of his estate, so I know what his wishes were. Because I was executor, my Mother blames me for her not receiving his estate. She has made up a narrative of events and conversations, which she keeps adding to, to support her version of events. She even puts notes and phone numbers all over her house, in her purse, hidden in book pages...I mean the notes are everywhere. And she calls me daily, several times to rant how I have done her wrong. One time I got 96 calls from her in one day, always the same, almost verbatim story. And she's really hurt and cries...over something that isn't true. It's very heartbreaking to witness. I have tried distracting her, but it is really hard to distract a person who has reminder notes all over the place. She even rolls little notes up and puts them into the spirals of her notebooks and address book. I tried once to find all her notes and remove them, but didn't find them all. And she is constantly writing them out and putting them everywhere. Truly astounding how determined she is to hold onto and remember something that never even happened. It's amazing the lengths she goes to. And there is no proof to provide nor witness to give that will dissuade her. Her delusions and confabulations are impressive. So... this behavior seems extreme to me, but maybe it is common in dementia patients. At the first I was angry with her and tried to reason with her. At that time, I didn't understand, nor realize that she had dementia. I just thought it was part of getting older. I have had to block her phone number. She can't call me, but I can call and check on her. She can leave messages, though, and does fill up my inbox with them. I am at a loss as to how to help her. She doesn't have to be so angry and sad, if I could only get through to her. I'd like my Mother back. I would welcome any advice or encouragement.

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Personally, I would lie to her. A great big fat lie.

I would tell my mum, yes, you're right. The lawyers are sorting it out now, but it will take some time. In the meantime, let's sell your house and you can live in a lovely hotel (assisted living/memory care facility) while waiting for probate to be finalised.

And I wouldn't feel guilty about it, either. Anything to ease her mind and help persuade her to go where she will get the care she needs.

I would persuade her to give you POA so you can ensure that your mum stays somewhere that she is safe and not causing problems for her SiL. If not, lie through your teeth to make sure your mum is looked after appropriately.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to MiaMoor

Has your mother always held onto perceived sleights, long before dementia? Mine has, and would expect to complain about her (long dead) in-laws every day, for hours at a time. If I said I had things to do or places to be, she’d call me selfish. Like with you, it wasn’t obvious when she transitioned from being a constant complainer, martyr and victim to having ridiculous delusions. When she crossed from repetitive complaining about the sleights to tales of acquaintances using her house for daily parties, etc, her dementia became more obvious. She’s now in care and I am finding hundreds of notes all over her house.

Talk to her doctor about calming meds. Better that she not live in such an anxious, angry state.
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Reply to Anabanana
NeedHelpWithMom Jun 11, 2024

Your point is definitely worth noting. My godmother had Alzheimer’s disease.

She was never a pleasant person. She complained about everything long before she had dementia.

I feel like you do. It’s harder to recognize odd behavior when a person has always been argumentative, unreasonable and self centered.

When a person has always been pleasant in their past, then it’s easy to recognize that their behavior is out of character for them.
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My mom's delusions had her doing things that she should not. She believed someone was forcing her to leave her house, and she packed up the things that were important to her in her car and went to a hotel. She thought that she was in a casino hotel in downtown Toledo and called me to come get her (I lived 1.5 hours away at that time). I was worried since she was mixed up with phone and computer scammers. Thankfully, she was at a hotel only 10 minutes from her house, and all was OK at the house. But I knew then and there that she could not be allowed to live alone in her house any longer. She isn't the mom that I had growing up, and I mourn that. But she is safe in a MC not 10 minutes from my home, and I can easily see her and follow her care with the staff. Action needed to happen, and I did what was needed for her to be safe and cared for. It can be a very emotional deciduous. Don't let that deter you.
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Reply to Missymiss

Junie25, our mothers sound so similar. Mine’s 99, now in care, lost in her own world. She is more content and rarely talks about all the evils done to her by others. She speaks negatively about me, not recognizing me when I visit.

But for years she insisted she was fine, everyone else was wrong, even the 6 o’clock news was wrong about the date and time, the weather was wrong for the season, etc. She’d scream “Who is paying you to make me think I’m losing my mind?!?” So combative. She told me (as a child) that she had never been wrong about anything and still holds onto that belief.

I had had to wait for a crisis to get her removed from her house and discharged from the hospital into care. Document her behaviours and present your findings to her Dr. Have all your ducks in a row, ready to take advantage of any chance to move her into care or have caregivers come in.

My bedridden mother insists she is constantly travelling and her care home is a bed and breakfast. I’m just glad she’s no longer as angry.
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Reply to Anabanana
MikeinTexas Jun 16, 2024
Agree. Documentation is a tool that most doctors appreciate. Since the patient cannot tell the doctor, we need to provide the information he needs to make appropriate diagnosis.
If she lives alone, it’s time for memory care or nursing home. Tell her, yes the estate is hers, but it’ll take a while to go through probate channels. And I totally agree with MiaMoor. When you take her to her new living arrangement say this is part of what the estate provided her and she should enjoy the “help” that’s all paid for.

A dementia patient can think some pretty outlandish things…you just have to go with it and if that includes lying to keep the peace, then by all means lie.
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Reply to Donttestme

How far into delusions and confabulations can they go? As far as their minds will let them.

In our case - we were already fighting a losing battle - as my FIL had NPD well before he was diagnosed with dementia - so we had years of deciphering reality from fantasy. My FIL lived in a world of his own creation and the rest of us were merely players in it to ensure that his needs were met, so if he believed something to be true, then it was true.

When we layered dementia over the NPD, it actually went from frustrating for us (and anger inducing) to just incredibly sad. Now he was trapped inside of his mind with his own delusions and no one could actually execute the tasks he demanded on a regular basis. At least before with the NPD we could sort of pick and choose what we could or should help with. With the dementia delusions and confabulations it rose to an entirely new level.

And once they get something in their head - no matter how many people might tell them it is untrue, or how much proof you might be able to offer them, there will be no getting it out of their heads.

When we moved my FIL to the nursing home - it was with his FULL consent. He wasn't happy about it, no one ever is. But he agreed to it because he knew there were no other options. HE even signed the paperwork on admission day (he was not yet diagnosed with dementia)

Admittedly - he was never happy there - of course. But after about a month something changed significantly. Suddenly he was seeing snakes coming out of walls, going to late night parties in the woods by way of old, abandoned tunnels, and finding himself locked in church basements ( all from his bed that he chose to never leave). All of these things were very real and there was NO convincing him that they did not happen no matter how irrational or how much proof to the contrary.

But the one that he locked in on that gave us the most grief, was the delusion/confabulation that we basically dropped him off in a hellhole and never looked back. His story was that we never visited (even when we were right in the room with him), never talked to him on the phone (call records sometimes logged upwards of 25+ calls a day across 4 adults with him), that we just dumped him off and ran (which is what he did to his own mother, but I digress). We had left him in the worst place imaginable and they left him in his room with no one coming in for HOURS (it would be a different number every time he told the story, with the total increasing each time). He managed to convince his long distance sister of this so much that she called our local Ombudsman to report the facility and told them that SHE was his NOK because his kids had abandoned him there.

But he was fully committed to it - when he wasn't in our presence. If he brought it up to him - anyone who had told us that was lying to us. He never did any of it.

But similar to you - there was NO getting through to him. Because you can't. Once dementia sets in - the person you knew your mother to be isn't there any longer. It's frustrating and will drive you crazy. But you can't hold her to the same standards of "normalcy" because for her - this is reality.

What worked best for us was when the doctor finally prescribed something to keep FIL calmer. There were fewer crazy calls, he wasn't exaggerating about the lack of care as often, and he didn't look at us like he hated us every time we walked in the door.
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Reply to BlueEyedGirl94

My mom is 91 also. 

I want my mom back too but I know this will keep getting worse. I read the findings of her CT & MRI and I hit a place of such profound sadness over that. The "deep and subcortical white matter" explained so many of her symptoms and why I would never have my mom back to the way I once knew her. It put me in an entirely different place of acceptance, patience, and compassion. Have you gotten any tests done on your mom yet?

My mom is in there. I can reason with her. I can get her to understand these things she’s saying are obviously untrue, I can get her to see that. Yep, I used to be that way too. She listens, she scrunches up her eyes in confusion and says “So that didn’t happen?” I gently tell her no and she twirls her finger on the side of her head indicating she’s “crazy” and I just tell her she’s not and she has a little memory loss and it’s okay. Then the entire thing repeats again within a minute. 
You said “she doesn’t have to be so angry and sad, if I could only get through to her.” This is a brain disease. You may be able to get a moment of clarity from time to time but it won’t last. I don’t think you’ve fully accepted it yet. Maybe you never will but I hope you will. It truly makes things a bit less hectic in your head space. 

You don’t have to be at a loss on how to help her. Make sure she is safe and comfortable. Keep removing the notes as best you can and throw them away. Or write your own post-it notes “Bill left his entire estate to his wife Mary” and stick them wherever. Fight fire with fire? Is that bad advice? I don’t know but it’s the truth and maybe she’ll see it enough times to help reduce her anger. 

You mentioned she is in “her house.” I take it you’re okay with this for now? Seems risky to me given her mental state. 
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Reply to Sha1911
Junie25 Jun 11, 2024
Thank you for your reply. My Mother does not realize anything is wrong with her. Indeed, she accuses me of trying to make her think she's lost her mind. I think deep down she knows something is wrong, but she will never admit it. She is right about everything, and everyone else is wrong. It's the darndest thing, isn't it? Her troubles began about five years ago. I have had trouble accepting it previously, but now that she seems to be getting worse more rapidly, I must accept that it is no longer her. Maybe I will try your idea of leaving counter notes around her house. My Mother is in very good shape physically, for her age. She will not take kindly to any mention of putting her in memory care. My siblings and I know we need to consider that given her mental state.
1. It sounds like mom is living alone. Not a good idea for many reasons safety is the first she can have a fall, she could turn water on and leave it on, the stove, furnace....
Living alone she may dwell on these thoughts and they have become an obsession.
2. Talk to her doctor about medications for her anxiety and agitation.
Keep in mind that many medications can make mom a fall risk so please read the above comment.
3. Even an Adult Day Program would keep mom involved and active so she would not continue to obsess. But please consider Memory Care or having caregivers with her.
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Reply to Grandma1954

Mom needs med(s) to calm her down .
She should not be living alone .

Give her a copy of her deceased brother’s will to read , read , read , over and over again . Leave it with her . Don’t discuss it . Just tell her to read the will whenever she starts in about it .

We had to do this with my father in law regarding his lease in assisted living . He was fixated on certain things .

After awhile he stopped obsessing over them .

Good luck .
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Reply to waytomisery
Onthehill Jun 15, 2024
Usually someone with dementia lacks the ability to comprehend what they are reading or flat out don’t believe it. My mother didn’t believe she was retired and insisted she had a job. I found her letter of resignation she wrote 26 years ago. It had her signature and her last day of work. She didn’t believe it was a real document.
Dont engage with her on the topic. You won’t change her mind but it might help if you don’t respond. Please do t try to explain any of the details. Change the subject. My DH aunt was sure a neighbor had made sexual advances because he talked about his wife who had passed. She caught him putting food in her garage frig he intended as a gift. She sold the frig.
She kept her garage open during the day and visited with neighbors as they walked by. half the time she was wearing a thin cotton blouse that left little to the imagination so she might have flirted with him … sex was on her mind.
Another time she told everyone about obscene phone calls she never received. Her neighbor received one and told her about it. She took the experience as her own. I would not discuss it with her. Years later more than one of her caregivers asked me about the stories. She told them about the events but knew not to mention her stories to me. She believed them.
With her, the confabulation seemed to be a phase. Watch a few Teepa Snow videos on YouTube. You might find her methods helpful for talking to those with dementia.
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Reply to 97yroldmom

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