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“My 84-Year-Old Dad Continually Asks About His Mother Who Passed Years Ago...”

My 84-year-old dad continually asks about his mother who passed years ago.  How can we keep this from causing friction?

As people advance through the stages of Alzheimer’s, they often lose the ability to distinguish between past and present. They may not recognize their own family members, or mistake them for friends or relatives long since gone. People and events from their past become real to them again, and they may persist in statements you know not to be true. At this stage, it’s best to switch from a reality orientation to validation.

Make an effort to distinguish between their reality and yours. Your loved one is not “wrong” or intentionally denying the truth; they are simply trying to cope with their own truth. Recognize the disease for what it is and go along with them. Understand that what they’re really seeking is the comfort and assurance their memories contain. Direct the conversation toward those feelings and respond in a positive way. If they ask about Mom, you can answer, “Your mom was really special, wasn’t she? I bet she was a great cook.” Above all, avoid arguing or adding to the frustration you both already feel. After all, as your loved one suffers through this tragic disease, how important is it to be “right?”

Please support our local Alzheimer’s Association at 316-267-7333.

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