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Mom is in a skilled nursing facility following hip surgery. She is doing great physically but her cognitive abilities have been declining (they had been declining even before surgery). She told me today that when she thinks of home its the house she grew up in another town. She said she can't picture her current house that she's lived in for 60 years. She knows the street name but has no memory of the house. She said it concerns her that she can't remember because she knows she should. Is this normal?

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I am a Director of Nursing in a assisted living community, this is normal progression for dementia, the long term memories seem to remain its the short term memory that is most affected. Often my residents "get stuck" at a particular place in time.  When I was in nursing school way back in the day, they told us to be truthful with them and try to keep them in the moment. That is a load of junk. I do not want to tell someone that their spouse died each and every day. I want my residents to be as happy as we can make them so we deflect the comments that may hurt them emotionally. I do a paper on each resident called "My story" this is all information I get from family and friends about their lives and use that information to help distract them such as "So you got married in 1953, wow, that was the year Queen Elizabeth was crowned did you watch it?" dementia is a mean disease that robs them of so much.

Try asking her questions about the house she remembers and let her tell you about it that can provide her with some meaningful conversation with you.

Good luck and god bless.
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GloriaHoward Jul 13, 2019
My father is stuck in the Depression and World War Two. I agree completely with you about being stuck. He can remember his dog's name (Clara Bow) and high school friends names, but even after a correction or ten, he still calls the cat, :Margaret" instead of "Charlotte" every day. While hearing the same stories day in-and-out is tedious, I know he just wants to talk and feel reverent. I try and redirect him to more brighter and lighter subjects, as saying he worries about nuclear war or a worse economical depression is hardly the conversation at breakfast, but it is still common to the illness.
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With dementia, most recent memories are lost first... and distant memories are lost later... is what I understand. Good luck to you and your mom.
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Reply to Arselle2
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Lisajean this sort of thing is very common; but more to the point your mother has just had major surgery and is still recovering.

If it troubles *your mother* that she can't bring to mind her home of sixty years, take pictures on your cellphone - room by room, including any favourite features - and chat to her about it. If that helps, great; and if not put the idea to one side and change the subject.

If it only troubles *you* - talk about something else! The important thing is to reassure your mother so that she can focus on her recovery, and let everything else wait until she's back on her feet.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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My father has dementia. What I do notice is that he remembers things from the past, from his childhood years ( people, places, and things). Sadly, he can't remember ever having us (his kids) and many other things that have happened in the past 40+ years. I do not know what is normal anymore.
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Reply to godsbeautiful1
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Dementia is terrible, nothing is normal any more. My mom always talked about who came to visit ....but they were gone years ago. She said did you see her in the hall, and I would just say I'll talk to her later she left already.
So sad to watch our loved ones suffer. Peace to you.
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Reply to DiamondAngel14
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Yes, this is absolutely the norm. The long term memory lasts and the short term memory goes quickly. Often you will be called by the name of an old friend, loved one, family member or acquaintance. Certain things the mind can hold on to very tight, such as the words to old songs, the tune, how to play the piano, where other things cannot be held on to. The mind is a very fascinating thing.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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I once read an analogy that said our memory is like a bookshelf with the oldest memories on the bottom shelf and some books being weightier than others as we progress upwards - with dementia we tend to keep the heaviest tomes and the foundational bottom shelf the longest.
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Reply to cwillie
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Yes it is normal for the elderly population. My mother occasionally wants to go to her childhood home to see her mother when she becomes afraid or upset and it is usually in the evening. I reorient her as best I can, but sometimes she gets upset and demands to leave. I use reverse psychology and get the car keys, I tell her just be careful, mom with the wolves out there and she settles down for the night. The funny thing is there are a pack of wolves out there.
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Agree. When my mom wanted to go “home”, it was to her home in the 1920’s.
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Angelika1947 Jul 14, 2019
So many people are on the same page, but for saying the same thing, I was shot down. I agree with everyone who feels this way. I would want someone with a happy memory over a bad memory. I think about my childhood home & it brings back some wonderful memories, where another home, when I was older was a far cry from happy!!
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There is nothing normal with dementia. Often the home is forgotten, my mom did, she always wanted to return to Milwaukee, where she grew up. She worried about her parents worrying about her, thought her parents would think she had been kidnapped or some such. Yet, at the same time, she worried about her own children being kidnapped or disappearing.
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Angelika1947 Jul 14, 2019
The health care is changing & new ideas are pouring in from cancer is cured. The mind is a bigger issue than we thought. The brain is made up of more plastic than we thought. The brain can be use & work more than we thought. Dementia is no fun at all. If she remembers anything, I would rather it be good. I rather her remember good things over the bad. Bad can bring on night terrors & nightmares. If Cortisol gets out of whack, that is a bigger problem. Time to let go of the old & in with the new. My dad, God only knows what was wrong with him, but my mother died before him. He saw his beloved wife, standing before him, visiting him, with another man & the heart break was terrible!! Also, the gut is the boss & not the brain. Leaky gut syndrome. There is ptsd which is caused by God's events, like hurricanes. CPTSD which is caused by a trauma, usually, by someone we know. Diseases can mimic each other & you have to go through each one to get to the bottom of it. Natural cures are being found & the body can cure anything, you just need to know the right doctor. Just like all mental illnesses were Bipolar. Well, guess what, not all mental illnesses are not bi polar. Even my daughter knew that! Needless suffering is happening due to the lack of knowledge!!!!!!!!
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