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What do I do when my elderly mom is trying to find her mom?

My mother is well into Alzheimer's with little to no recollection of anything that happened in the past 20 - 30 years. My father is the primary care giver and they live in their home of the last 24 years. Her day consists of rediscovering the death of her mom multiple times, wondering why she can't go "home" and asking where some unnamed person is. She has lost a lot of her verbal skills as well which just makes things that much worse. We have tried to redirect her thoughts, but she persists until she is told that her mom died 25 years ago or she suspects that is the case. Watching her go through the pain of losing her mom many times every day is very difficult for her and those who love her. My question is; is this common and are there any successful strategies for redirecting her attention?
Status: Open    Jun 08, 2015 - 07:55 PM

Caregiving, Dementia

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2 answers


Jun 09, 2015 - 06:10 PM

First..please don't continue to tell your Mom that her Mother is dead. As you know she will get upset each time, it is like the loss all over again. Tell her that Mom went to the store she will be back later, or Mom went to have her hair done, She went to the neighbors, with each "reason" add..she will be back later.
Same response to any unnamed person she asks about. If she asks about Mildred and you do not know a Mildred this might have been a childhood friend that maybe she had even thought about until now.
I recently heard someone suggest that when our Loved one says "I want to go home" it may actually mean that they want things to go back the way ther used to be. Just reassure your Mom that everything is alright and that she is safe.
The last part of your it common, for some it is. I have never had to answer questions like this for my husband, he is for the most part non verbal and has been for about6 years now. A few words now and then but rarely a sentence.
Redirection can be done just ask a leading question or ask if she wants a snack, to go for a walk. Or when my husband has it in his mind that he wanted to go one way and I needed to go another and we would have a sort of tug-o-war with the walker I would just start laughing. A big belly laugh. He would stop, look at ame and start laughing as well. He would then be easier to redirect. Best thing...a good laugh feels great. And we have to laugh about some of this stuff or we will go crazy!

Jul 07, 2015 - 10:27 AM

I concur with all mentioned above. I have always mentioned to families that making a photo album with pictures of the past, especially of the person he/she is mentioning. This is a good re-direction thing to help them talk about the person they are talking above as well as bring them to a happy place about the person. Going for a walk, getting a snack or something similar too is a good idea. We all love food and makes for simple easy re-direction. Having a few responses ready and waiting will be helpful in case he/she negates the first one.

I found this good reference about making a photo album for someone with memory loss:


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