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We have kept, maintained and visited my parents lake home since my Dad passed 3 years ago. Mom moved in with me right after Dad passed and in early stages of her dementia. We would regularly return to my parents home on a lake for weekend visits, holidays, etc. and enjoy our time home without issue when it was time to leave. Mom is now in Memory Care since late last fall.


We went back to the lake for a week this past Christmas and once we returned, there has been a significant decline in Mom's communication, delusions have started, her personality has changed, and she is obsessive compulsive about multiple things. Obsessive about my sisters wedding that isn't planned but she says it is, doctor appointments that we have already had, her teeth, and the lake.


She has become agitated and verbal about her hate for her Memory Care home and says she is going to stay at the lake as soon as I take her there. It has become the only thing she talks about and is angry and mean about it.


I discussed with her doctor and he recommends that I do not take her back to the lake. He says it will be too difficult for her to come and go like we used to. I explained how this is literally the ONLY thing she talks about and how do I manage not taking her? His suggestion was to tell her the house burned down or we sold it!


My Mom is not the typical dementia patient that I can distract her or she will forget about - she is OBSESSED about her lake home and to tell her that it burned down seems more harmful than taking her there. Telling her it burnt down would only turn into another obsession about seeing it and fixing it.


Has anybody experienced dealing with dementia obsessions or similar? My sister and I said we would rather try to explain to her that she has dementia vs. telling her their beloved lake home and legacy burnt to the ground or had to be sold.


Have you told your loved one they are sick?

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I would try to consult with a doctor who is more informed about the treatment of people who have dementia. Do you think this one understood the full picture?

I ask because, It's not uncommon for patients who have dementia to become or grow more confused, agitated, resistant, insistent, etc. as their condition progresses. It's not something that is odd with dementia, but, common and even expected.

IMO, that's why there are professionals who are specifically trained to manage their care. So, I'd discuss what you are experiencing with your mother with the MC staff. What are they seeing with her? What works best for her? And, would medication help her with her agitation? That's why, I'd find a doctor who is more familiar with this kind of patient and their care.

Mental distress is just as painful as physical pain, imo, and that's why special care must be taken. Plus, does the doctor not know that mother would likely forget whatever you say about the lake house burning and the news would need to be repeated over and over. Each time the pain would be horrible for her.

And, I would be surprised if she were able to process the information that she is ill and not able to visit the lake house. When, the brain is damaged, the patient often is not able to process or retain it, so, it would likely make her angry, suspicious and confused.

But, family members try different things. I say go with whatever works. Often, a repeated excuse, such as, we're getting the house ready, new roof going on, spraying for insects, driveway being fixed, etc. will delay until the point that she will forget about it and stop asking. Most of the time, that phase does pass. But, until it does, it may be just be a thing that has to addressed at each visit. And, if she believes that she will return to live there, what's the harm of allowing her that fantasy?
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Reply to Sunnygirl1
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I agree, Mom needs a more qualified doctor and meds. This is like an anxiety. It not goid for them to be anxious all the time. Its also time for a little fibbing. I agree, its not good at this point to take Mom to the lakehouse. The next time she may not be easy to get back to the MC. When she says something just go along with her. Say, "when we can get thd time off. Just too much going on now".
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gdaughter May 11, 2019
not to mention how she may not willingly get back in the car once there! We have enough hassle on this end with my mom refusing to go to get her hair washed or nails filed.
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My FIL is quite obsessive as well. Imagine if you KNOW something but feel it slipping away so you do everything you can to hold on to it. I imagine dementia is like that everyday and as the pieces start to slip more, they become more agitated. He was obsessed with going back to his house (where they lived for over 60 years, so it was one of his longest memories) to the point he was writing ugly notes (that were broken sentences and one could barely understand).

We would tell tell him we were busy or we had to come home and cook for our son, whatever it took, to beg out and leave. You can’t tell them any different and if you do, it leads to arguing which is upsetting for everyone. My husband still has issues with “therapeutic lies,” but is coming around. The more we can do to make him less agitated, the better for everyone.

I would not not tell her burned down, just do what you’ve been doing- telling her you’re busy, etc - but then leave (with some excuse about somewhere you have to go. She will eventually stop and focus on the next obsession. For as upsetting as it is for you, it’s equally or more so for her. I told my husband I imagine dementia as riding in a car at 150mph trying to count telephone poles and calculate the number of poles per mile while still counting. The world moves too fast for them to process, so they obsess over trivial things.

I often wonder if FIL from 10 years ago would be appalled at his behavior now. Obsessive, demanding, argumentative, etc. Doesn’t care if he turns out world upside down to have his needs met because his needs must be met now, much like a toddler. I hate this disease.
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Reply to mommaruthie
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Yes tried that. Found that mom cant really understand that.
Its extremly frustrating to explain anything since she has no short term memory
I am only starting to realize the depths of change that have happened in my mom's mind
There is no reasoning with her anymore
She went to assisted living a month ago, not happy and cant be reasoned with. I think the mistake on our part is dealing with the parent we knew, not who they have become.
It is now like dealing with a small child, patience, love and staying the course.
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mommaruthie May 14, 2019
You are spot on with that: you’re used to dealing with the parent, not who they’ve become. This was SO hard for my husband and his siblings. My husband came around first because we lived with him. His siblings though! They would often call or text “Dad wants xyz” or “sad doesn’t like such and such.” Eventually I got to the point that I listened and then did what I had to do. If I dropped everything every time he said such things, all I would do is cater to him. It even went as far as moving furniture (where I drew the line). They didn’t realize he is no longer the same person. His daughter said the other day, “I have to work myself up for visits.” Honey, how do you think it is for me? You come for a week and then back to your life you go. Try living it when you’re the one he’s constantly bombarding, lol!
I wish I could say it gets better. It doesn’t, it just becomes different. That obsession will get replaced with a different behavior. Crappy disease this is...
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I don't know where to start since I deal with most of this daily and there seems to be No pattern in it. So, let's start with the worst of it. Trying to tell your Mom she has Dem is just going to cause more problems. Since she is in mid stage, akin to the terrible 2's for kids and the absolute worst stage to deal with, she's going to ramp it up if you try to explain how bad her Dem really is. Next is her obsessive actions recently. Like my Mom, it comes and goes with what her focus is. For the last 6 months, she "sweeps" the carpet with erh slippers constantly because of the footprints left when you walk on them. She says it's disgusting looking but for the last 2 weeks that has waned in place of her wanting to smoke again. She hasn't smoked in 6 mo. Then there's the case of her driving. The car is gone and she hasn't driven in 4 years. Trying to divert incites a verbal tie-raid, the same about not smoking. Telling her the house is gone won't matter just like trying to divert the conversation. Just go about doing what you do with her when you're out with her and ignore when she brings it up. Don't try to explain it away and don't get hot when you respond if she keeps it up after an hour. Just be flat in your response that you don't have the time to talk about it at the moment; then leave. It's all part of the disease and it runs it's course. You just have to find a way to deal with it or distract yourself from the situation.
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gdaughter May 11, 2019
Once had a client obsessed with cleanliness of her home...no dementia. She used a stolen sheet (hospital name on the borders LOL) and spread it out OVER the emerald green plush carpet. Vacuuming was to be in one direction ONLY....so no lines...so one would have to pick the vacuum up and go to the other side...
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You can't tell her that she has dementia. It will not compute the right way. She won't understand, believe you or she's fine.
We try not ever lie to Mother. To tell your mom the lake house burned down would be awful for her. Tell her the truth.
Fear and paranoid episodes are common with dementia. At her stage she will hold to what she remembers, usually long term. The places & times that were secure, common, memory, safe...Always point out what a great beautiful place it is she lives, how safe it is, etc. I wouldn't mention about the lake house.
Hallucinations & dellusions are typical but can be managed with the right meds but as little meds as possible. Her feeling safe is key. With dementia any past traumas or fearful episodes will surface.
As you go you will see how to work WITH her. Never try to manipulate or deliberately lie. Tell the truth, be mild with it, but be consistant. And it's ok to remind her what she had desired though she doesn't remember. If she's insistant, then say that we'll have to work on it or plan it, etc. Keeping things in the future most of the time works because she won't remember.
Blessings
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gdaughter May 11, 2019
sometimes helps in communicating to use as few, and as simple, words as necessary to get the point out.
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Apologies for calling your GP an idiot. I do appreciate that they are not dementia experts but I wish they would signpost to experts rather than giving such advice xxx
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Reply to RachCreed
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I agree with you and several others. Do not tell her it burned down. It wouldn't help this issue and would devastate her.. my dad was the same way with his farm. It's hard to deal with. Explaining to her she has dementia would also be counterproductive. There is no reasoning. Just give an excuse and move on. I dont think it's bad to take her there if possible though. It might relieve her anxiety temporarily. But I believe lying to her about the home would be unnecessarily cruel and she would then obsess about fixing it. Let her plan. That's all she really has left. Take her to the lake if you can or just put it off....tomorrow, next week etc.
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Reply to BJPolly
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I think your doctor is an idiot! What an unhelpful suggestion that will clearly only cause her more agitation & upset. I don’t think telling her she is sick is good either though everyone is different & until you try you won’t know the ramifications.
Have you tried telling her you’ll take her to the lake tomorrow, end of next week or whatever time frame that you know she’ll forget within?
My Mum too is obsessive, mostly with constantly eating anything sweet & today has been constant nagging for sweets, biscuits or chocolate. She ended up trying to eat a wet wipe!! Such a tough disease isn’t it. Blessings to you & your family xxx
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PandabearAUS May 12, 2019
“I think your doctor is an idiot “Ha Ha. 😂
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I agree with everyone who has said not to explain that she has dementia. It doesn't help them understand, is only upsetting. My mother is in denial most of the time, and the only times she seems aware of having memory problems, she says it is just terrible. I think denial is the mind's way of protecting us. In this case it is a blessing.
As to the times she wants to go to the lake house, have you tried reminiscing about happy memories from there? It might work better than trying to redirect her to another topic.
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DILKimba May 11, 2019
This is a wonderful idea! “Oh mom! I miss going out there too. We just don’t have time to fit in a Trip right now. What is your favorite thing about being there? I remember one year when Sally was 5 and we thought her how to swim....” or some such thing. And then just be non-committal about when the next trip will be.
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