My mom has moderate dementia and often asks about her parents, where they are and if they are okay. How do we handle this? - AgingCare.com

My mom has moderate dementia and often asks about her parents, where they are and if they are okay. How do we handle this?

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The problem is that if we tell her they are okay, she will sometimes suddenly remember that they are dead. If she asks and we tell her that they are in Heaven, she cries. We do this over and over. Does anyone have a better answer? Or, if you have the same problem, how do you handle it?

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Go along with where Mom seems to be. "Hmm. It is 4:00 on a Tuesday. Where do you think she might be?" Her answer may help you know where she is at in her memories -- childhood? Highschool? etc. and you can direct your remarks accordingly. If she is in childhood, reassure her that you are there to take care of her until her mommy comes back.

My mother once asked me when my dad and his friends would be back from a fishing trip. "I don't know when they'll be back, but I sure hope they catch a lot of fish! I especially like them when you batter them lightly and pan fry them" And from there we discussed cooking.

Do the best you can at guessing what answer will satisfy Mom for the moment.
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It's good that you're not insisting she realize that her parents are dead whenever your mom brings them up. That doesn't do anyone any good and it's cruel although some people believe that it's the right thing to do. I'm not one of those people.

Jeanne's right. Take your cues from your mom. When she asks about her parents tell them they're somewhere that makes sense to your mom. Did her parents travel? Did they have dinner parties? Casually tell your mom when she asks and then change the subject. When my dad became demented and would ask questions regarding his delusions I would make sure he knew he was safe and then I would ask him what book he was reading and he would tell me in great detail about his book and not remember that he was afraid of his delusions.

It helps to have a few tricks up your sleeves like Jeanne mentioned. Go-to conversations that are safe and won't hurt our loved ones. But if your mom realizes that her parents are gone console her. Imagine what it must be like to all of a sudden become lucid and realize that the people you loved most in the world have died and you didn't know it. Let her cry, let her feel it, provide comfort. And then maybe recall a memory of your grandma or grandpa and share it with your mom. Look at some pictures of them. Once your mom has realized that they've passed away there's nothing you can do about it except be there in the moment with your mom. And there's some comfort in knowing that in time your mom will forget again.
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Whew! Hard question! My Mama does this asking where is Daddy? I try to redirect as much as I can. If it's the day, I say maybe fishing. Night...maybe the rodeo. Sometimes she remembers. Most times she does know Daddy's gone. Once or twice she did remember he was dead about 15 min. later and said I fibbed to her. I laughed and said no, I'm sure they have great fishing holes and rodeos in Heaven! She still does this but I remember her sister and brother asked this too all the time. I leave the room to go to the bathroom, say things like "how about a snack?", our say I forgot to dump the trash. Then come back and change the subject. When she knows he is dead and starts to cry and get wound up then I say what do you think he is doing right now in heaven? And we talk about all the fabulous things he might be doing and who with. Redirect! This is a hard time and it seems like it's going on and on. You are not alone here!
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When my great aunt used to ask my mother about the latter's parents (who had been dead for several years), my mother answered by saying "oh, they're about the same" and that seemed to satisfy her. As my mother said, this was an entirely truthful answer!
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Quote: "When my great aunt used to ask my mother about the latter's parents (who had been dead for several years), my mother answered by saying "oh, they're about the same" and that seemed to satisfy her. As my mother said, this was an entirely truthful answer!"

That's brilliant! "Oh, they're about the same..." I may use that! My FIL knows that his wife has passed away, but he often thinks he's back living with his parents in their house (his parents passed away about 30 years ago!)
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Bbtwinks,
Please know this is not uncommon. My husband is in late stages of Alzheimers. He thinks his parents, sibling and relatives are all alive and live...in trees. He insists this is where they can be found at any given time. They are all dead, have been dead for more than a decade. His mother and father died more than half a century ago. As other people have suggested, I go along with whatever he wishes to believe. It's their world to reminisce, to believe, to want...we should not attempt to change what they hold dear. To try and explain realism to dementia patients doesn't work. Be patient and loving. I hold my husband's hand and simply listen to him babble. It's okay if loved ones having dementia feel their parents are alive, live in trees, along a road or under a bridge. Whatever makes them happy. They do not remember. He tells me he is meeting them for dinner...okay, that is good. I ask what are they having for dinner. He doesn't know; then the conversation shifts to an entirely different subject. There are days I just sit and wish my husband would say anything. The mind is so complex. Please be lighthearted, smile and reassure your mother in the most loving way that whatever she thinks, whatever she feels, she is correct. There will come a time when your mother will not know you. That is heartbreaking. And, who knows, perhaps in your mother's world thinking her parents are alive keeps her young...gives her a purpose to greet each day.
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My mom asked or thought I was her mother in the last weeks of her life. I always told her the truth and she was always fine with the answer that they were gone. I told her if they were alive the would be over 100. She was always surprised. How lovely the thought that she was living in the present but her mom and dad were with her in her heart and mind.
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Awwww, I remember caregiving for a woman that had a 20 second memory span and shortly after I started caring for her, her daughter passed away. She would ask her husband, (who was mentally sound) about the daughter over and over. Each time he had to reply she had passed and it was so painful for both of them. He constantly having to relive the pain of it by reminding her and she going through shock over and over. It was awful to watch. I don't think there is a correct answer to this one. Like you say, then they have a moment of clarity and say, "Did she die?" Of course you do not want to lie to them as then they want you to call them!
It's horrible and sad. Within that year, her husband passed and they had to put her in a facility. God I don't want to get old!!!!! 😥
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For me, the majority of the time my mom would not remember, but occasionally would remember and I would just hug her and be there just as you would as if it had happened yesterday. For my mom, she was married to my dad for 62 years and she got to the point where she didn't even remember being married to my dad, but would talk about her mom and dad all the time. Sometimes I would break out some old photos and start talking about them when she would get sad. The best thing I could do was simply go for a ride and talk while riding, because every time it was like the first time she had been there. You are certainly in my prayers as you deal with all that Dementia/Alzheimer's brings. Just try and think that it could be worse, because there could be pain involved.
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My mother almost every day told me she wanted me to buy some extra berries to take to her mother across the street! And that her mother-in-law was living in her basement and she (mom) was worried as to how grandma was getting around without a car - should we call the police? I said maybe she was taking the bus, but mom pooh-poohed that! 'She would never take the BUS!' lol.   I would say, 'I just saw grandma go out the back door when I came in, she said she is going to a church social.'   Then changing the subject usually worked. We had a wonderful paid caregiver come in a few hours a week, and when mom asked about where her (long dead) family members were, this lady would say, 'Don't worry, everyone is exactly where they're supposed to be!'
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