Mom is overly concerned about “her kids.” Are my kids in the house? Where are my kids? I have to go home and fix my kids supper. Etc…. Her son, my husband, will be 60 years old this year. We realize she is regressing back to their childhood and is looking to care for her children as children and not adults with families of their own. She also had a daughter, which has passed on. It is strange because she knows her son by name. She knows she had a son which she named, but often thinks he is her “little brother.” What do you all believe may be the most beneficial way to answer these questions? I usually just tell her the kids are in the bath, downstairs in their rooms, or at school. She asks nearly every day to go home to help Mommy and Daddy on the farm. She had 2 sisters and 2 brothers which are all deceased. She is the only one of her family left at 79 years old. Often asks about deceased siblings. Sometimes I feel as though none of the answers (fibs) we give her, ever satisfy her and so we answer repeated tough questions over and over. Any advice appreciated as to how to lovingly answer and possibly satisfy her curiosity.

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My brother died in 2019 and that pretty much kicked off my mother's descent into dementia. Four months afterward she was diagnosed.

When she asks where my brother is, I always tell her "he's gone home", and that satisfies her.

When she asks about her parents, I usually tell her "I haven't spoken with them today". Same thing with her deceased siblings.

My dad is always "at work".

There is no need to tell her that they're all dead because it breaks her heart in the moment.

Telling her that everyone is just fine and all is well and it's a beautiful day goes a long way in avoiding anxiety and upsetting her.
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Reply to southiebella

I tell fibs (not lies IMO) as they are more comforting to my Mom than the truth. The first time she asked me where her father was and I answered truthfully, that he passed away, was the last time I answered truthfully since she got so upset. So I guess I’ve become a liar and I’m ok with that. The truth was painful for my Mom. Her Dad is now fishing every time she asks which is daily and that answer makes her happy.
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Reply to lmh1973
Tandemfun4us Apr 7, 2024
I think that is a wonderful response. Comfort is key for my mom who has little to no recall. Somethings I divert the conversation to something that is not upsetting by saying “oh mom! I forgot to tell you….” And then I have a premade list of subjects. A recipe she used to make that I found and was going to try or ANYthing that makes her smile!
There's not much to do but keep repeating answers to her questions. She won't retain the answers and will ask, and you'll answer, and she'll ask, and that goes on and on. Tell yourself every day that's this is just the way it is, and as my friend told me while taking care of her mother and her MIL, "recommit every day to doing it with goodwill."
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Reply to Fawnby

"The kids are at a friends house." then redirect "It is time for dinner."

"The kids are reading a book." then redirect "Do you want to walk the dog now or later?

"The kids are out playing." then redirect "Do you want chicken or meat for dinner?

"It is raining today at the farm so we can't go help." redirect "What do you want for breakfast?

"You must really like helping on the farm. What to you like doing on the farm? Then stop and listen.

"You must be a big help to your Mom and Dad on the farm." redirect Do you want pancakes or waffles for breakfast?

On the redirection statement it helps if you ask a question.
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Reply to brandee
MamawT Apr 3, 2024
Brandee, Thank you for the ideas of some things to say. Sometimes I feel like a broken record and tire of repeating same answers to same questions. Good advise.
I think you just have to be willing to go to that other world with her. It can be exhausting to answer the same questions over and over. My mom's repetitive question every single time that I took her for rides to the mountains was You are such a good driver. Who taught you to drive? My answer was always You did, Mother, because you were the only one brave enough. Five minutes later she'd ask it again and then again and again. Once I asked her what would make me a bad driver in her mind. Speeding, she said. Sometimes she'd look at me curiously and ask if I had once been young. She was thinking of me as a younger person and confused why I looked so old. She didn't recognize anyone but me. She did however remember that she had grandchildren, but didn't know them when they visited. I told them just to remind her who they were and that worked. When a best friend visited Mom was very polite and conversational, but when the friend stood up to leave Mom said she was very glad to meet her friend. Oh, the look on her friend's face when she realized my mom had been talking to her for an hour and had no idea who she was. An hour later it dawned on Mom who the friend was and called her to say she remembered her. It seems all was still stored in her brain somewhere, but just hard to get to most of the time. I don't think reminding who a person is hurts as long as the information is given in good cheer. It might be different though when the person is not actually present. When my Mom had eventually forgotten that my dad had died and asked where he was, I'd usually say he was fishing with his friend Joe and that satisfied her. I thought telling her he died would be too upsetting and she wouldn't remember anyway. My brother died when she was deep into her Alzheimer's, but I didn't tell her. She'd ask what he was up to and I'd say Oh who knows and tell her some silly story about him.
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Reply to ArtistDaughter
swmckeown76 Apr 12, 2024
My late mother-in-law had Alzheimer's and her son, my late husband, had frontotemporal degeneration. He was an all-conference football fullback and heavyweight wrestler in high school and played a little football his freshman year in college. He had one concussion during a high school game. Mother-in-law became obsessed with the idea that the concussion caused his frontotemporal degeneration, probably from something she saw on TV about some guys college football and pro football players and having increased risk for dementia (I also saw that show). I asked my husband's neurologist about it and he said one concussion and only one year of college football (he didn't play much in college) was very highly unlikely to have caused my husband's frontotemporal degeneration. She was a retired radiology technician and (usually) had a lot of respect for doctors. Every time she fretted about the *one* concussion caused her son's frontotemporal degeneration, I'd remind her what the doctor said. Sometimes it helped; sometimes it didn't.
My granny did this. It was so sad that she couldn't identify her adult children that she knew she had. (I don't think it was curiosity that caused her to not recognize them and ask about them, more like brain cells gone from disease. So tough.)

We would just makes sounds of hearing her, we would say, you know those kids, always busy and anything that would put her mind to rest for the moment, then redirect. Nothing stopped it but time.

She benefited greatly from having a life sized baby doll. She had something tangible to put her attention on and to nurture. Maybe your mom would find comfort in something like that.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
MamawT Apr 3, 2024
I had tried a life size baby doll a couple of months ago, with no interest at that time. It’s worth a shot to try that again. Thank you for the reminder. I agree, It is definitely not curiosity when she doesn’t realize her son is an adult. It is so sad to watch a once very successful, independent store owner lose her independence and unable to take care of herself and have to fully rely on us and others for her every need. Alzheimer’s/Dementia definitely destroys the brain cells and is such a cruel disease.
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Two things:

1. When she doesn't recognize her son, maybe have him walk out of the room, then walk in again wearing something else. I found out that doing something like this may occasionally trick them into recognizing you by accident. I had noticed that sometimes, if I happened to change out of my house clothes to go out, when I'd walk back into the room, it jogged something. I'm not saying this will work 100% or even 1% of the time but it's worth a try.

2. Humor her, like you've been doing (tell her that her kids are busy somewhere.) It's all you can do sometimes. My mother will frequently look at me straight in the eye and say, "rcnyc2364, where is rcnyc2364?" When I say I am her, she will firmly say, "No, you are not her. I am looking for my daughter." Or she'll ignore me and say, "Oh, you have the same name as my daughter." Unfortunately, that's how dementia is. There's no getting around it.
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Reply to rcnyc2364

To try and break the spell, try to respond and deflect with a question on the same thread that makes her to reach back in her memory. For example:
I have not seen him for a while. When did you last speak to him?
What are you planning for dinner?
What needs to be done on the farm today?
Do you remember the vacation we took to____with aunt or uncle?

It may take the burden off of the cycling question to focus on an event with that person.
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Reply to MACinCT
Tll795 Apr 7, 2024
We tried to eliminate the word remember as much as possible. Sadly, using it seemed to increase the anxiety.
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They gave my grandmother a realistic looking baby doll to hold. All during her life she loved babies and children. It seemed to comfort her to hold that baby. Maybe having something like that could make her feel she was caring for her children. Just a thought.
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Reply to Dizzerth

It is not lying. It is called “entering into HER reality”. Agree with their feelings, acknowledge how they feel, “ I know you miss Dad but it will be nice to see if catches any fish”, or “the kids love working on the farm. You taught them well”.
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Reply to mpiersmaj
MiaMoor Apr 8, 2024
I like your way of phrasing it.

I'm perfectly happy lying to my mum, even though I don't make a habit of being untruthful. That's because I'm very practical over matters, like this - I take after my mum!

However, I realise that many others would fret over the ethics of lying, especially to loved ones. (I worry about the ethics of causing unnecessary pain.)

So, I hope that lots of people see your comment, and are able to reframe their thinking about not being completely straight when talking to their loved ones with dementia.
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