How can I get Mom, with psychosis, to think her children are out of danger and okay? - AgingCare.com

How can I get Mom, with psychosis, to think her children are out of danger and okay?

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I tell her that her imaginary children got out of whatever situation her mind put them in but she never believes me. The imaginary child in her mind says to her that I am lying to her.

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What you are seeing is it normally late in the day? My mom was constantly, almost, worried about the safety of her children, with me in my later 50's looking at her and trying to soothe her. Do you have siblings? Could it be that these children are actually you when you were younger? This was the classic sundowning behavior of my Mom's.

What worked the best was to tell her that the children were spending the night with friends, using names of childhood friends, and that they would be back first thing in the morning to go on the picnic, or something else fun. Sometimes it did not work, so I would make the pretend call to the home sibs were spending night with to make sure everything was ok. That would usually do the trick.

So, realize that the children she is worried about are her own children. Do not try to correct her, figure out a way to agree with the story and come up with a way to soothe her.
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First, your mother is not having these delusions because you are doing something wrong or because she isn't medicated correctly. This is Not Your Fault. Naturally you still want it to stop but please don't carry any guilt about this.

I am so glad to hear that you are not arguing with her about whether the children exist. Instead you are trying to convince her that they are not in danger or being harmed -- that they are out of the danger she thinks they are in. She isn't taking your word for it, though. Would a little action be more convincing? "Oh Mom! Are they still out? They are too young to be out this late! Let me go check on them right now! Will you be OK for a few minutes? ... [a few minutes later] ... "Whew! They were just in the back yard, nearly asleep, the darlings. I've laid them on their beds and I'll go finish getting them clean and into pjs after we are done here. Do you want help tonight cold-creaming your face?" (or if the children only visit and don't live with Mom, then you called and made sure they are safely at home.)

Teepa Snow (an awesome occupational therapist and expert on dealing with persons who have dementia) suggests that before trying to divert or distract, take responsibility for the solution. If you are going to check on the children Mother doesn't have to keep worrying about them. If you call their parents, it is off of Mother's plate. THEN you can change the subject.

To see a very short video of her explaining and illustrating this, search for:
"Redirecting Hallucinations in People Living with Dementia" with Teepa Snow

One of the caregivers in my local support group had a husband with continuing delusions about young children in the house. He was a minister (retired because of LBD) and it was part of his life work to be concerned about the welfare of children. He would ask why his wife didn't set places at the table for "the children." She'd reply that she had just served them a snack and they were watching a nature video until their parents picked them up. She took the responsibility so he could eat without worrying about them.

Two other things that MIGHT be useful:

1) Frequently mention things about her nurturing and homemaking skills. (Not particularly when she is experiencing delusions but any ol' time.) Don't ask her "Do you remember when ..." Instead start with "I remember when ..." and mention the time she was so kind to your friend who was being bullied at school or the time you were so frustrated with a school sewing project and she patiently ripped out a seam for you." In other words, not the general "you were always a good mother" but specific examples that you remember. Tell her how much you loved her apple pies or Sunday pot roasts. Validate her expertise and skill in what she did in her life.

2) Get her a life-like baby-sized doll. (Not a realistic doll sized for an 8-yo's arms.) Introduce it by saying "since you have children around a lot, I thought they might like to see a doll in your room." It may turn out to be just a beautiful decoration in her room, and that is OK. Or she might enjoy holding it and feeling nurturing. Let it be up to her.

From what I know, drugs aren't particularly useful for delusions. But it is always good to keep her doctors informed about the situation.

My husband's delusions were almost always benign. (Or they were not disturbing to him. If I believed there was a dead body in the bedroom that would sure disturb me!) If the delusion is not disturbing Mother, just go along with it. "You took the children to the park this afternoon? I hope you all enjoyed yourself." Only if the delusion is distressing her do you need to try to sooth her.

Does your mother still live in a group home, or what is the living arrangement now? How often do you interact with her?
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So sorry to hear your dilemma. Is there a therapist who can assist you in this? Do you have any tangible touch type items...fabric, stroking toys, etc that can soothe her? Any music that you can use to start to associate that sound or feel with a sense of security? Any local organizations to ask for tips to help you get Mom and yourself through these episodes?
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She is on proper medication for psychosis and dementia. Not much medication helps this situation.
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Call the MD and get her on proper medication.
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