Mom can't remember that her husband died. Any suggestions?


We had to put Mom in memory care a few months ago. She HATED it. So much so that I was ready to take her back home. Then I would remember all the problems when she was home. I have been her support for 17 years after her 2nd husband died, actually 37 since my father died. I was burnt out. She wouldn't remember if she ate, I know she didn't because I did all her shopping and then throwing away all the old food. She thinks she is still perfectly capable of caring for herself, like years back. That's another question, is there any way to convince one that they are not able to take care of themselves any more? She is finally settling in somewhat. I had to stay away, as I was, and still am, a trigger for her wanting to go home. She lived in a woods that was beautiful, fed the birds and so enjoyed nature there. So it devastates me when she wants to go back, and I totally get it. So, suddenly she can't remember that Vic died. Sometimes she thinks they were not married and didn't live together. They were married 10 happy years. She gets so hurt and upset that Vic won't call or see her. Which of course kills me. If we tell her he died, usually she says she didn't know that, or lately, gets so upset. We just go along with her when we can, but when she thinks he has deserted her, that's terrible too. I don't know what to do. She is unhappy either way. Any suggestions?



sspiel -

I'm on board with "therapeutic lying" when it comes to things like this. When she remembers, give her the comfort she needs, but don't dwell on it. As soon as she seems calmer, gently redirect to something else.

When she doesn't remember is when the "therapeutic lying" comes into play. If she asks where Vic is or why he doesn't call, just casually say he's busy or working or something to that effect and reassure her that Vic loves her. Never make promises or statements that he will call later or will come to see her - because you never know when that will pop back up in her memory. Dementia is a wicked disease and often completely unpredictable.
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Reply to AnonymousMember

Thanks all. I know what you are saying, and I am getting better at living in her world. It's when she is crying about Vic's death or his ignoring her that gets me . I guess just cuddle when she remembers he has died, and redirect and assure when she thinks he doesn't care. Should I acknowledge his death when she remembers, for the moment?
I just tell my sons, please don't put me in the room with Grandma. ;)
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Reply to sspiel

Mom asks me every time I visit why she has not seen her husband and close sister. I just remind her of their deaths. She just acts surprised but several have posted of repeated grief. By the way, this has been going on for 5 years and you are asking to fix this? You may just need to keep it simple but use your spine as you already know what her response is. My mom appreciates my visits more than her grief
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Reply to MACinCT


Just go along with whatever Mom’s reality is on any given day.

One day Mom asked that I call my Dad or Stepdad to come get her three little girls because they were driving her nuts.

Okay, Mom divorced my Dad to marry my Stepdad. Dad and Stepdad were both deceased when she made the above statement.

I told her Dad was mowing the lawn and Stepdad was grocery shopping and that I would take the 3 girls home.

She then instructed me ( one of the three little girls) to tidy up the house because Dad and Stepdad are horrible house keepers. Okaaay.

It’s exhausting to have the right response some days. But you can’t correct or bring them into your reality.
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Reply to lizzywho61

My mother often couldn't remember that my dad had died. I always went along with it. "he's having a weekend with his poker buddies," "he is fishing this week" etc.

Is your mother on the ground floor? We put a bird feeder right outside my mom's NH room window. Also hanging plants.
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Reply to jeannegibbs

There are a ton of threads on this site about this question. Your mom's brain is broken, so there's no easy way to get her to remember for a long period of time. So you distract or create some therapeutic fibs about where Vic is. "Oh he's visiting his sister and will be back in a few days" or "He had a business trip" or "He'll call later today" or "He's at work and will be by later". Anything that would be plausible and will quiet her for the moment. Then you immediately distract. "Mom, let's take a short walk down to see the fish tank." Or take her outside to sit on the patio or to go get popcorn. Or look at the funny Facebook videos on your phone. Start working on some distractions that you can use when you need them. 

I tried to copy the link to a bunch of threads on this topic, but it didn't work. If you go to the search box and put in "don't remember spouse died" you'll find a number of threads on this topic.

And don't take her back home. She is where she needs to be for your happiness and her safety. {{{Hugs}}} 
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Reply to blannie