I am looking for advice - my mother passed away 6 months ago. My Dad has dementia and within the last month has begun to ask where Mom is or if the family can help him call her. Reminders of her passing result in recall followed by self-deprecation on how stupid he is to forget her death. Frustration soon follows.

What is the best way to handle this? Continual reminders or redirection? Any advice would be appreciated.

Others on this forum have suggested telling our loved ones who don’t remember someone passed away by telling them they went to the store, etc. and will be back soon. Repeatedly telling them their loved ones passed away will upset them over and over again and they still won’t retain the news. It’s the classic therapeutic fib and it’s kinder than continually upsetting them.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Ahmijoy
Judysai422 Mar 9, 2019
So how does one then explain that their clothes and/or other belongings gone, they are living in a one bedroom apt, not a 2 bedroom apartment, or they have moved altgether?
I would tell him..
She is not here right now, she went:
Hair dresser
Lunch with her girlfriends
Then change the subject.
To tell a person with dementia that the person they are asking about has died just lets them relive the death again and again as it is the first time they have heard about the death. I can not imagine how emotionally painful this would be.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to Grandma1954

You will likely get answers that include,
1.) Lie to them, making up something to explain the absense like shopping etc
2.) Tell them the truth, every time, prove it with photos or trip to grave as neee and deal with the sadness, every time
3.) Ignore it and try to distract them with other things etc
They are all workable solutions but which one or which combination of these works best for you is likely going to be trial and error. The thing is, since your loved one is likely to forget again anyway, you can experiment with all the suggestions and find the one that best suits both your needs and the needs of your loved one.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to faeriefiles

I would tell him she went out. You also ask how do you explain where her things are, chances are he is not going to ask follow through questions. He is only concerned about where she is, if he does you can tell him that her things had to be sent out for cleaning. If you haven’t already make sure there are photos of both of them hanging up and some in a photo album along with pictures of the rest of the family (use a small one) that he can look at when he wants, from experience with my dad he may remove these to carry in his pocket, I would just gather them and place back into the album when he did.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Glendaj2

My husband passed away in Nov of last year and my mom can't remember that. She asks about him almost every time I am at her house. I answer depending on the question she asks. If she asks Doesn't Ernie care that you spend so much time over here I just say no he doesn't mind. If she asks how's Ernie today I'll say fine (as I know he is better off than we are now) Sometimes I tell her he's died and she'll say oh you told me that, I'm sorry I forgot. I kept a bulletin from the funeral by her chair for a while and she'd look at it every few minutes but still couldn't remember. So, I'd say answer what ever will satisfy him for the moment I sure know that's hard for you to keep repeating things that are also sad for you to remember If he gets mad at himself for not remembering all you can do is say Dad it's not your fault.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to whyme327

My mom is doing the same with my fathers death. Frankly with every single person who has ever died. Everyone is alive in her world. Honestly I just jumped into her world, it is a nice place where everyone is alive and active. Everyone is doing the things they did in life and we “cook” for them all and I sort out all the beds that are needed when they come “visit”.
Follow up questions are answered. Never has she looked for proof. This is all just a very sick brain making everything easier for the person. They need the comfort because their brain is hurt and things get scary and confusing and if your dad needs to believe your mom is alive LET HIM. It hurts at first (you because you know the truth) but the lie is the nicest thing you can do.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to anonymous885003

There's really no reason for him to have to experience those bad feelings about himself. This is one of those situations where therapeutic "fibbing" can be helpful. You can tailor it to the question he asks in the moment and responses can run along the lines of "she's out right now," or if he asks to call her, "she's not able to talk right now, but she sends her love."

Continual reminders won't help. Because of his memory loss, every time you tell your dad that your mom passed away, it's new information to him. He has to process it again, experience the emotions again and then feel guilt because he didn't remember. It's important to address the question in some way because this validates him. Once you address it, you can redirect.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to IAMKHM

My Dads wife passed away & he sleeps with her picture on his nightstand. Many days he will ask did she die? Should I lose her picture. He has also looked in her closet, I have not boxed everything up yet. Should I remove most of her things?
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Confused1POA

I would just remind him and tell him that he is not stupid to forget, but that it is too painful maybe for him to remember.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Queenofmean725

Tell him that he is not stupid and leave it at that. Only sadness will come forth if you ponder on mom's death. Instead try to focus on other things, e.g. reciting bible scripture to him.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Llamalover47

My husband often thinks I'm his Mom, other times he asks about her death who did the funeral where is she buried etc. I just ho along with whatever. Whrrn she s alive she's alive, he asks about aunts and uncles. Theyre niit here or on their way whatever doesnt caus more plain. Why relive funerals over and over.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Bjwalters

Depending on the level of dementia, I might consider making up a story that she is here or there or whatever. I don't think I would tell him as it would upset him terribly and might have some serious negative effects on him. Another tactic is to very gracefully "distract" him and talk of another subject. Good luck.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Riley2166

Ask a Question

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter