My mother has dementia and has to go in a nursing home. Should I correct her when she starts living in the past or should I let her talk? - AgingCare.com

My mother has dementia and has to go in a nursing home. Should I correct her when she starts living in the past or should I let her talk?

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Desprcargiver8 brings up some things I am dealing with. My mother, whom my dad divorced when I was 6, doesn't even recall the divorce and I don't remind him. He doesn't remember ever being without her. He wonders how she died and where. She was actually murdered along with my step-dad. I used to explain this and he would get all upset and I would because I would have to relive it, but now I just tell him that her turn on earth was over. If he wants more details I too, change the subject. I wish my dad would play games. I haven't tried dominoes but I think his reasoning skills have diminished too much. It is worth a try though.
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This is something I have said many times on this sight, she no longer lives in my world, so I go to hers.....that is where her mind is, correcting her only causes them anxiety and more confusion...I don't look at as telling fibs, it is simply a small thing we can do to bring them comfort.. I hate Alz., and what it does the human mind, body and soul....
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My Mom is in NH she is mentally stable, as far as conforming to daily needs. She is actually really cute right now. All well physically, so far so good,. In her mind she works in a hospital! So when I visit she tells me she's busy ( in my reallity board) she says she's working and can't stop working. So I say "I was just driving by and thought I'd stop to say hello." Then she say's OK maybe I can take a break. Then she talks to me. If I say anything to make her feel uncomfortable (beyond her comfort zone...she's the boss of her) she goes back to work (her reality...her comfort zone). So in order to make Mom happy I have to go to her world, bringing her to mine is unacceptable! When she was unstable she was communicating to me in ways other than words. Actions speak louder. She did things and said things I figured out that she was communicating in the only way she knew how to. You may need to read between the lines.
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Before I understood dementia (as much as anyone can) I corrected my mother and she would just become angry. Once I became more knowledgeable and dropped my ego I was much better company for her.
Now I go along with her sense of reality. Reality is all about perception anyway.
There are times when she has a piece of history twisted and if I add some details to the memory it helps her piece it together. I'm always careful not to cause confusion by reading her body language.

When we visit her in the nursing home we tend to play simple games like dominoes which keeps the focus on the present.
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This is so wonderful that you bring this up because I am examining this very subject right now for a post on my blog.

When my mom was alive she would always ask where her husband was and he had been dead for some time. I debated whether to tell her the truth and watch her mourn over and over again or to let her believe that he was alive somewhere which hurt and confused her. She would wonder why he had left her and want to go find him, etc. I tried it both ways and it tore me up to watch her suffer. I still don't know what is right but changing the subject seemed to work pretty well sometimes. Other times I pretended I didn't hear her. Then there were the times when I was either truthful with her or I wasn't.

In your case, I should think that if it is not hurting your mom or anyone else and she enjoys talking about people who are not around anymore, then what is the harm?

The question of ethics comes in to play here but as a caregiver who is trying to provide compassionate care for your aging parents, the question remains if, and when, is it OK to fib or hedge or avoid the subject or outright lie to spare their feelings?
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What else has she? She only has the past to think about because the future is not looking good. I'd let her talk to her hearts content. BUT I do think that when she talks about someone who has been dead for a long time, I'd say 'you're right mom, they WERE wonderful'... or whatever. That's about all the correcting I'd be doing.
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If she has age-related dementia, I am not sure what to say. However, my mother specifically has Alzheimer's and we were advised by nurses to never "correct" her because it agitates/angers Alzheimer's patients when they are "corrected." So, if Mom says, "The sky is the prettiest shade of green today!" then I just say, "Yes, the color of the sky is pretty!" rather than "No, it's blue!"
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