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Hi all, my father passed away in January after 5 months of in home hospice. My mother has short term memory loss.


The first few weeks after my father's death she was quite stoic and would say that it is ok, he was 90 and lived a good life.


But suddenly she is asking what happened to him, where he is, if he is coming back...and says "why didn't anyone tell me?"...


It's frustrating and painful to me to have to explain repeatedly to her, plus she accuses me of withholding the information.


My dog, brother and father all died within 5 months...I just need some down time...and this isn't helping.


Any suggestions on how to address this?


Thank you!

The memories and volital nature is something we deal with daily. I agree going thru this over and over every day just sucks the life right out of a person. We tell MIL of dads passing at leat 50 times a day, sometimes she responds that he is in heaven waiting on her and other times responding o well it has not been long enough not to cry and she will start crying -5 minutes later like nothing happened.....
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gkcgkc Mar 4, 2020
Skipperdude, "sucks the life right out of a person" is a pretty good description. :(
I'm sorry you are going through this as well, I don't think anyone who hasn't experienced this can understand it...
Thanks for sharing, {{{hugs}}}
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The LO for whom I care at present also swings between periods of remembering and not remembering. I have developed the habit of using unfocused comments like,

”I haven’t heard from ( person’s name) in a while. I’ll try to contact (——) when I get home.”

”We thought (———-) had told you”.

”They (unspecified) said they thought you knew”.

“He had an appointment”. “He went to check on Uncle ....”

Plausible, non specific, open ended, comforting.

Please don’t put yourself through “explaining” to her. That’s not fair to you. If she “accuses” you of anything, her accusations shouldn’t impact on you, since they come from her partial comprehension of information that is too complex for her to really interpret correctly. Know when this happens that the comments toward you come from her confusion.

So painful for all concerned, but part of the tragedy of dementia for many of us.
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I have the ssme issue when my mom askes about my deceased brother. We agreed not to tell her which would add to her confusion. I answer in one of 2 way.
1. I have not seen or talked to him in a while
2. When was the last time you saw or spoke to him? Then answer that you have not heard from him since a week before her.
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gkcgkc Mar 3, 2020
Thank you MACinCT. I'm not sure if this will work because my mother's memory sometimes is just fine, but nonetheless, I'm going to try this out. It's so helpful to hear from others who have experienced this.
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gkcgkc, my only tip is to play along by living in your Mom's reality and tell her white lies when she asks about your father, brother or anyone else who is deceased, or who chooses not visit her.  After explaining to my dad, who was in his 90s, dozens of times that his parents, my mother, and some of his brothers and sisters were dead (we even visited many of their graves), I finally realized that such explanations and visits were not useful.  So, during my dad's last couple of years, when he would ask about them, I'd tell him that they were shopping or visiting someone else and that, no, we couldn't go see them right now because it was too late and/or all I had was a bicycle today, but that we could go "home" to see them in the morning after a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast.  Such white lies almost always worked, but when they didn't, I would walk the memory care halls with him to "help" find an exit.  In my case it may have helped that my dad often/usually thought I was his dad, so he may have been more compliant than he otherwise would have been.

Kudos to you for being both your mom's and dad's caregiver.  I know that had to have been exhausting and I can't imagine the effect all your recent losses have had on you. I hope you're able to find a way to get the down time that you surely must need.  If either your dad or mom was a veteran, the VA may be able to provide some assistance and Medicare also provides a few days of respite care to give caregivers some rest. Best wishes.
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gkcgkc Mar 3, 2020
Hi Bicycler,
Thank you for your kind reply. This forum is such a wonderful source of knowledge and support. No one can imagine what it is like to be a caregiver until you are actually doing the job.
Well, so much for getting a gravestone/memorial for my father. I was thinking if we had one then I could bring my mother regularly to visit and it would help, but most likely it wouldn't really help. My mum's reality seems to slip in and out. There are times where she is lucid and then days where she is lost. For a few weeks she understood perfectly my father was gone, and now suddenly that knowledge was lost. I suppose this is not unusual. In any case, I will attempt to "live in her reality". I guess there is no choice at this point.
Thank you for your kind words about caregiving, yes, it's been a really tough time caring for them. We kept my father home and he died peacefully in his bed surrounded by his family and somehow it made the bad times all worth it in the end. But the loss of my brother was unexpected (my only sibling) and I feel I haven't had time to grieve for him because I've been focused on my parents.
It is so generous of you to share your time and experience with others. It's only after joining this forum that I realised many others are going through the same. Thank you.
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I am so sorry for your losses You are not alone in this. My Dad passed away in his sleep five years ago. within a year my dog died and then my son died, Mom started to forget this about a year ago. It is so painful to tell her again, and again, and again that my dad passed. She asked all the questions, all the details and like you accused us of not telling her. I imagine it seemed that way to her. Now she remembers that Dad passed away and she forgot about it. We support her that she can remember that she forgot and it is okay that she forgot. She has faith so is reminded she believes they will be together someday when her God determines it is time. They were married 65 years and of course the grief is intense. I take real deep breaths as I process this and relay information to mom once again. I remain calm and empathetic and try to comfort her best I can. There are so many that have passed that she often goes through a list of who is here and who is not. She often spends time with relatives that have passed. I just accept that is her reality in the moment. I try to help the moments pass and create new happier moments. She will often have "the best afternoon ever" after an episode of grieving. This seems to occur 2:30 to 4 pm most days.
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I'm so sorry for the loss of your father. A very difficult topic for you to keep addressing with your mother, who's obviously reliving the event every time you discuss it!! I don't think there's a 'right' answer here, truthfully. Except to say that you really do not want your mother to KEEP reliving her husband's death every time she brings it up, which is what happens when memory loss and/or dementia is involved. Perhaps you can distract her when she brings up the subject? That may not be realistic.........I don't know your mother's specific memory loss situation, so it's hard to say.

Here is a link to an article on the subject:

https://www.samvednacare.com/blog/2017/06/06/what-to-tell-a-loved-one-with-dementia-about-their-friends-and-family-who-have-passed-away/

If you Google "What to tell a loved one with dementia when their spouse died" you will get a variety of pages to come up, each with useful information. You may be able to glean a few tidbits from each one to help you chart out a plan for yourself to deal with your mom.

Sending you a big hug and a prayer that you both can heal from such a huge loss.
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gkcgkc Mar 3, 2020
Thank you Lealonnie1. My father was not always the kindest man to my mother and she lived her life being subservient to him and catering to him - this was generational and cultural. My brother and I always thought my mother would get a "2nd life" after my father passed and have a chance to live her own life. When she was younger she and her sister used to joke they would live together when they were old widows and be free of caring for their husbands (both demanding). And now here we are with her dementia and she is having trouble grasping what's occurred. Life certainly offers its twists and turns...
The hospice nurse warned me that she could go soon after my father and I was dubious. But now I see how lost she is without him, how intertwined they were (60 years of marriage) and I wonder what fate will bring.
Thank you for the article and the tip to google - there is much written about this so I'm off to do some research.
Thank you so much for your kind support...
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gkcgkc, I'm so sorry for all those painful losses. I cannot even imagine. Are you in the states? How much down time do you think would be refreshing? I'm asking because if you can live with a full day (to start with) maybe contact a local church. Often larger churches have care ministries and would be willing to help even if you aren't an attender. Or there are respite services that you can contact, adult day cares, etc. Not sure about your financial situation, but it should be paid for from your mom's funds if possible. In the states we have in-home care agencies. I am using Visiting Angels, which is a national franchise and has been doing it for longer than most. I'm very pleased with the companion care they provide my 2 very elderly aunts in FL.

Also, my MIL with short term memory loss also forgets her husband died and we have to remind her. We tell her the truth of when he died, and that we did tell her. Then we redirect the conversation to something else so she doesn't get mired in it. You could put a picture of your father in a prominent place where she will see it and put a note on it with the dates of his life (Jan XX, 1919-Jan XX, 2020 Rest in Peace, or something to this effect). This may prevent some of the repeating questions. Let us know answers to the other questions so you can get the best suggestions. May you gain peace in your heart as you move through your loss and grief.
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gkcgkc Mar 3, 2020
Hi Geaton777, thanks so much for your kind support.
We're in the states. I'm looking for a carer to come in once a week for respite, but as my mother grows older, she slips back to her native language so I'm looking for a carer that speaks her language and it's been a challenge.
I'm not sure how much time I would need to feel like myself again - forever?
The loss of my brother was unexpected and I feel like I haven't been able to grieve for him because of my parents. And now my father is gone and I'm trying to care for my mom...it takes a lot out of you this caregiving and life's unexpected challenges. Sigh.
Thank you for your kindness, funny how even a stranger on the internet can offer solace. Thank you.
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