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I am the primary caregiver for my mother who has lived with us for 4 years. For past few weeks Mama has been asking about deceased distant cousins. She thinks they visited her lately but she missed them. That their family home is still there. It's abandoned and falling apart. Even when I tell her they have passed, a few minutes later she asked about them again. Has called other relatives asking about them. Only remaining member of that family is older and lives out of state. Have never spoken. She lived with her aunt after both parents died when she was just 10. Don't know what to tell her. Can see the confusion on her face. Breaking my heart but constant questions frustrating family members as well, especially my husband. Not sure what to do.

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You say deceased *distant* cousins - but were these cousins people she knew during her upbringing, when she was living with her aunt?

Rather than close down or change the subject, another approach you could try would be to open up the conversation. Ask her about them, what they were like, what she and they used to do together. While encouraging her to reminisce, you can then lead the conversation round to the present day and help her to orient herself in time.

This 'slippage' is a very common feature of dementia. It's as though memory is built up in layers, and the layers wear away, so that the oldest and deepest ones - say, from when she was a child and a teen - resurface and seem to her, now, to be the present day.

You won't be able to stop her asking about them, but you will find it easier to reassure her; and at the very least you will make it a more interesting conversation.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Your profile says your mom has Alzheimer’s disease. Others on the forum have experience with this.

Stick around for answers.

Best wishes to you and your mom.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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Does your mother have dementia? Because this is a common symptom and many here have dealt with this with their loved ones. If you tell your mother her relatives are dead, she is going to feel the heartache and grief every time so when she brings them up, come up with a “therapeutic fib”—instead of saying they are dead, make up a scenario where they are away and unable to visit anytime soon.
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Reply to worriedinCali
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