My 86 yo Mother has stage 5 Alzheimer's disease. I have found that for the most part the validation practice works best as I can only imagine how difficult it is for her to have me correct her constantly when she knows that she is right. The biggest problem we have run into of late is that she believes that my younger sister is a 7 year old child and is lost and she can't find her. She constantly is looking for her and gets very agitated because she can't find her and no one believes her. She has started wandering off while looking for her and leaving the facility. She has a wander guard on and the door alarms but she just goes right on through and says that the staff will find her since the door alarmed. I can only imagine how terrifying it must be to think that her child is lost. I've tried reorienting her thinking it will help if she is reminded that my sister is a grown woman and has her own grandchildren. She keeps disagreeing with me that this just can't be possible. We thought if my sister would talk to her it might settle her down but that isn't happening. Sister has NOTHING to do with her. Should I just go along (validation) and not disagree with her? Or continue to remind her that her baby is now a grown woman? Distraction only works for a moment and then she is back at it.

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I wanted to comment on Raylins reply - in case anyone is having the same reaction that I first did when I read a suggestion to substitute a stuffed animal for an actual, live dog.

I admit the first time I read something like that I thought “yeah, right! That has to be the silliest thing I’ve ever heard! As if anyone can be fool by a stuffed animal masquerading as a real one. Even someone with dementia”.

Then I came to be familiar with two women at my mothers nursing home.

One woman held a baby doll and the other - some sort of stuffed animal. I could never tell what animal it was representing as the woman held on to it so tightly. Which is my point.

Both these women were never without their artificial companion. Never. They seem to hold on to these falsies as if their lives depended on them.

Loving on them, talking to them, petting and stroking them as if they were the real deal. Both woman seem content and at ease. I commented as such once to a staff member at the home. Their reply was “they are content and relaxed. Just don’t try to take their “baby” away from them.”

So, anyone who thinks this sounds like a silly idea - "Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it”.
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Zdarov Sep 2018
It’s great to hear these examples! This should definitely help some of our loved ones.
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Do not remind her. You cannot reason with dementia. My mom did the same thing, always thought her children were missing, even me, standing right in front of her. What worked the best was telling mom that sis was spending the night with a childhood friend. A friend that mom knew the parents well. Told mom sis would be back in the morning. Most of the time that worked pretty well.

Is mom taking anti anxiety meds? Seroquel was a wonder drug for my mom, but she could not take ativan, completely opposite effect.
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My suggestion is get her a doll that can be wrapped with a blanket. It soothes them and when she doesn’t want the doll place it on her bed she will know where it is.
Best wishes,
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Ahmijoy Sep 2018
There was a lady in my mom’s Memory Care who had a few dolls. It worked. She was so “chiiled”. Never without a “baby”. When my mom tried to take one once, I to,d her she couldn’t. This lady thought they were real. But that was my mom...
Dear Nancynurse, I was one of those guilty of trying to correct my Mom when it finally occurred to me that this part of the disease was my problem! Agree!
There is your answer.
However having said that in your situation, can you not just offer she is at a sleepover with her friends? Was she an athlete, book worm? Adding she is doing what your Mom May remember. Sadly you can never bring back these parts she is losing, but be her friend. Her world has become very scary, you can be her champion, not her teacher anymore? Good luck and God Bless!
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I'd consult with her doctor immediately. Once a person with dementia wanders, it's a whole different agenda and that is keeping her safe. Once my LO wandered, her doctor wrote order for a Secure Dementia Unit. It's just too risky, plus, I would think the facility would be all over this. They are responsible for her welfare, so, if they are aware of the wandering, why are they not concerned? I don't get it.

I'd also discuss something for mother's anxiety and delusions. She sounds very mentally distressed. I'd explore medication and maybe a sleep aid.

It sounds like regardless of what you say, it's not going to really affect her beliefs about her troubles, so, I'd discuss it with her doctor, ask about meds and secure unit, and try to comfort and soothe her as best you can. Disagreeing really isn't productive, from what I have seen.
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I will address what I think is most important here first...
Your Mom needs to be in a locked or secure unit. It is hard to believe that they would not have told you this themselves. (the facility) They are responsible for her safety while she is in their care. (Different story if you take her to lunch and she wanders off) If the facility does not have a locked unit you need to be looking for one and prepare to transfer her.

Now to your "lost sister"
If your sister is estranged then in a sense she is "lost".
Is there a way that you can get someone to call your Mom and say it is "little sister" Mom can talk to her younger "daughter" and be assured that she is no longer lost. This will only work if your Mom can or still use a phone. My Husband stopped using the phone early on in his journey with dementia. I don't know if he could not remember who he was talking to if he could not see them or if it was because he was never a big talker to begin with.
If she will not or can not talk on the phone if you can get someone that sort of looks like sister to come visit. You do not say how long it has been since Mom saw sister but if it has been a while it might work to calm her down. I do not like deception of this kind but if it helps to keep Mom safe that is the lesser of 2 evils I guess.
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Nancynurse Sep 2018
Thanks for your suggestion. I like you don't like to deceive her. I guess it just feels like I'm lying to my Mom and I always had a hard time doing that. I did move her to a new facility with a locked Memory Care but they said she wasn't bad enough to need that yet. Now they have her on a waiting list for MC since they are seeing what I was saying prior to moving her there. Mom uses a phone on most days at least to answer it. She doesn't remember how to dial it or use the TV remote anymore. It is just hard seeing her slip like this and know that my sister is not even aware of how bad she has gotten nor wishes to try to help.
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I'm going out on a limb here because I never had to deal with this, but I wonder if a baby doll would help? Unlike a real baby, it won't matter if she drops it - but when she goes looking again, you can always find the baby and return it to her.
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Wow. Charlia. Just, wow. You need to keep beliefs like this to yourself. And, it’s “dementia”. Don’t scare people with your off-center opinions. An exercise bike will NOT cure a broken brain.
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How about saying the daughter has been found and is safe and sleeping now. That might help.

Perhaps an old pic of her might help too? If it doesn't work, and only upsets her, take it back when she's out of the room.
If you say the daughter is grown they don't get it. I'd just say she's found and is just fine.

Good luck~
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Do you have a young relative that looks like the "missing daughter"? I remember an older cousin with
alzheimers who called me by my mother's name and my daughter by my name. If a young relative could visit for a few minutes that might help; then you offer reasons why she can't return. Or a doll--I had a large rag doll when I was a kid that was about 3-4 feet tall. With "hair" the right color and a simple 50's dress that might be something she would accept.
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