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I’m wondering how often I should go see him and if it makes a difference to him. He usually comments, “Oh there you are” when he sees me but the rest of the visit is very confusing and he just seems anxious. Does he function just “in the moment” or does he remember that I was there?

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I’m going to answer your question both ways...no she doesn’t remember but yes, it makes a difference. My Mom definitely lives in the moment. I am here daily but she does not remember from one day to the next if I’ve come, or if my DH came instead, or of we both missed a day. However, my visits DO make a difference to her while I’m there. I do her hair, we play a piano game on my iPad, have tea and a biscuit, help her with lunch, she lays down for her nap and she tells me she loves me. Repeat the next day. These visits give her the one on one contact that the aids just don’t have time for, and help her in the moment. And help me too.
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Does it matter if he remembers? You do! If you feel that you can express love and comfort him, go visit. You know that you have done everything you can to care for him. Then at least the sadness you must feel at the loss of his companionship and the life you shared is softened by knowing that on some level he still appreciates what you do and is less frightened in his confusing world. You have been the best wife possible, and must face the rest of the world doing the best you can to care for yourself. The fact that he knows you and notes that you are there may indicate that he looks for you when you are absent. Ask the caregivers that work with him if this is so. Have them remind him that you were just there (a few days ago) and will be back as soon as you can. The actually timing isn't important because he probably cannot keep track of that. Giving him a calendar to know when you are coming to visit may help him, but it may also make him more aware of extended absences and give him a feeling of abandonment. Use your own judgement about this. Are there other family members who can visit periodically? Try to recruit them to come at regular intervals. Even if he doesn't recognize them they can still make him feel cared for. Tell them to bring pictures of themselves with him and be prepared to reintroduce themselves every time. My aunt doesn't recognize anyone (including her children), but when my mother says who she is her older sister smiles and is happy. Mom brings pictures of her sister's children and grandchildren. This is sometimes the best that we can do - pass a pleasant hour or two and let our loved ones know that we remember them!
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"Oh, there you are" sounds like he recognizes your face. He may not remember the relationship or your name. He knows that he knows you but he probably can't remember the last time he saw you. I would guess that he is functioning in the moment.

Since the rest of the visit is confusing and he's anxious, it would seem to me that he's not remembering much. Anxiety is common in dementia because they can't process things the way they used to. Their world is confusing and nothing makes sense. Often they can't think of what they want to say or find the right word to use, causing frustration.

I would read up on the various stages of Alzheimer's disease (if that's the dementia he has) on this board and at Alz.org-"Alzheimer's Stages & Symptoms" . Knowing what to expect can make all the difference in handling the situation.
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I don't think Mom knew me as her daughter just a lady that came to visit. One ER visitation, where the AL sent her out, when I showed up she said "hi" like a little girl.

You could go everyday and they would say they hadn't seen you in days. After a point, I think we visit for us but it really doesn't matter to them. Their days just blend into each other.

So, if you feel you want to cut back on visits, do it. Live your life.
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jfbctc Sep 18, 2018
Hi JoAnn29,
Yes, I like this answer. I have instructed my family that I do not want them spending a lot of time visiting me when I am institutionalized and don't know whether they've been there or not. My Neuro says I'm still in early stages, I feel inside like I'm further along than the Doc does. I want my family to get on starting now, and enjoy all the life they can, while they can for them and their future families. I also told the kids, let mom get on with life and if she finds a companion, leave her be and let her enjoy life. I hope a lot of people see your response, and take the time to let their LO's know what they want in the future. A lot of anxiety may be taken away for them and their families. Glad to see you posting again.
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I'm not sure if there is anyway to know exactly what a person with dementia remembers. I wonder the same thing about my LO. She used to know me, because when I walked into the room and caught her eye, a big smile came on her face and her eyes lit up. But, as she has progressed.....that doesn't usually happen. In fact, she may turn from me when I'm talking to her and wheel off in her wheelchair. I don't take it personally, but, I can make her feel better, even if it's just for a few minutes. I try to think of things that she can enjoy in the moment, even if she doesn't know who I am. At least, she's knows that I'm a nice lady who is helping her to feel better.

I found that I can hold her attention long enough to put some nice fragranced lotion on her arms, comb her hair, or change her into a new blouse that I bought her. I go over the new items that I bought her and explain how she'll use them. I know she can't know the meaning, but, the tone is important to me. I think she might like to hear someone who loves her talking to her in a normal conversation. Just in case, the memories are deep inside, they may ring a bell and comfort her. We can only do what we can.
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