My Mom passed suddenly six weeks ago and Dad doesn't remember her dying. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

My Mom passed suddenly six weeks ago and Dad doesn't remember her dying. Any advice?

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My mom and dad have been living with my sister, my dad is still there. We tried not telling him but he is too sad and wants to know,what's,wrong. It's heartbreaking to see him go over and over again and again like it,was,the first,time. My mom was,my dads,primary caregiver for last 9 years. He has dementia. He won't shower. Depends and robes are his cloths. Trying not to put him in the no home just dont know what to do.

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As has been said, everyone grieves differently. The type and stage of the dementia makes a difference, as well. For some, simply saying that "you'll see him/her soon" is enough, or "He's running errands but you'll see him soon." For others who insist that his or her spouse is dead (when that is the truth), the idea mentioned of asking for stories of fun things they did together may work. Sadly, there is no one answer.

The bottom line is that you want to avoid as much “new” grief as you can. However, you also want to address their concerns.

When the stage of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's, is advanced, generally saying "you'll see him soon" and then doing something that is distracting will work.
When the stage is earlier on or the dementia has not affected the memory, it's better to agree briefly and then try to distract by asking for stories if that seems to help, or doing something completely different if that works better.

It's always going to be hard. I do believe that whether or not the living spouse remembers the death of the loved one, his own life will now be limited. Very often spouses give up living and died before long. Not always, of course.
Update us when you can. We can listen even when we can fix your situation.
Carol
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Mom was aware of her husband's passing for several years afterward, but progressing dementia changed that. I wrote a personal history for her which included a paragraph about each of her children, and her grandchildren, and included the deaths of her husband and later, I added that of her sister. This helped to center her and place her in reality whenever she asked about her family. She thanked me for this history often. As Mom asked more questions about her family, I added paragraphs for them as well and since they were all gone except for her youngest brother, I included mentions of their funeral and burial with a few pieces of detail that would help her access that memory or at least confirm that she attended those events, which is important to her as her family, big as it was, was extremely close. The history is now 16 pages long, but Mom no longer reads it. It was a good assist to her memory for several years. At this time it is best if the conversation doesn't go there because I do not think that Mom has the fortitude needed to handle the reality of all of her family gone but for the younger generation, which I do talk about when I visit her -- I introduce the topic and keep the discussion on the children and grandchildren because family is the big topic for Mom. I think women have more connection to the younger generation and to their friends. Men often seem more confined in their relationships, only close to a couple of friends and major members of the family.
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Instead of reminding him that she has died, you might encourage him to talk about the wonderful times they had together. Open-ended questions work best. He might be depressed. A trip to his family doctor sounds like a good idea.
Good luck
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Since he can't remember, it's seems that hurting him over and over may not be productive. Sometimes, my cousin forgets her parents are dead. I just go along with it. There is no point in making her sad.
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After my dad died we moved Mom to independent living facility. Shortly after moving in she asked when Dad would be coming over. I told her as gently as possible that Daddy had died. She just looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. I realized then that she had buried that memory as deeply as she possibly could. After that when she asked about Dad, I answered with vague answers as best I could but never mentioned that he had died. She is now 96 with severe dementia and often talks about Dad coming over. I just say, "Oh, that's nice".
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My father died a year and four months ago. Mom keeps asking for confirmation that he is dead; she also see's him and often thinks he is in the bedroom. Refraining from telling her is not an option because she will persist until I answer. Then in the next breath it's how we are going to manage financially now that he is gone. I keep reassuring her that we are fine right now.

On some level there seems to be a need to maintain contact with this reality, no matter how painful it is. If she thinks he's alive, she will complain that she never had a husband; he's always been sick, never there. When she's aware that he is dead, she acknowledges she misses him so much because "you need a man around the house" and "I felt safe with him." Forget love/companionship/ sharing, lol. People grieve uniquely, and what works for one does not work for another. However, it would appear that because he is asking, and struggling to hold on to that memory, there is a need for him to know. Is there anything he would like to do to have closure or have a good bye ceremony in his own way?
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I've not been in this situation, so forgive me if my suggestion is at all inappropriate, but what if you left a picture of the lost loved one in their room, with one or two signed sympathy cards propped open nearby, or a funeral announcement with a picture of the loved one with a phrase that said "In Loving Memory..." This rather than having to tell them each time, perhaps if they say it written and acknowledged by others it might somehow "stick" or at least not trigger fresh grief each time they saw it. It's painful for you both to have to explain over and over again...I'm so sorry that this is happening for you.
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Don't tell him! Conract your local area agency on aging. He might qualify for at home help. But he woukd not be safe left on his own, I think.
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If you have tried explaining the truth and he doesn't remember, then as you say it would be pointless and cruel to tell him over and over. If that is the case, then creative lies are the kindest thing. Is there perhaps some far away relative that your mother could be "visiting" or "caring for". You might have to get really creative with some reason she cant be reached when he wants to call her. You can remind him that he just talked to her on the phone yesterday and he might be ok with that. Maybe an occasional card or letter from "her" would help.

Dementia removes the most recent memories first, so you need to determine where he is in time to adjust your loving lies. Is it just the past six weeks that he is missing, or is he back to before he was totally dependent on her. It will most likely change over time and he will go back further so you have to be prepared to adjust your story.
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Try showing him photos of her and see if he remembers what she looks like. Talk about pleasant times with your mother and there is nothing you can do that will bring his memory back to him, but just be there for him until his time to go. Dementia is THE hardest on family members who want to do more, but this is a sliding slope disease which only gets worse. I would try to offer him a shower or sponge bath and get him dressed. He may feel better and so will you.
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