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Fri Nov 29, 2019, 12:32 PM

Should a loved-one who has dementia be corrected when they are wrong about something?

Should a loved-one who has dementia be corrected when they are wrong about something?

I ask because my sister (who is now in assisted living) is starting to ask when she's going home. Her assisted-living apartment is furnished entirely with items from her old house, but she doesn't recognize them as being hers.

She also wants to know if her ex-husband (now deceased) is going to pick her up to go home. And she's also asking about Mom and Dad, wanting to know how they're doing and if anyone has heard from them.

Should we gently correct her by reminding her that Mom and Dad have been dead for over 20 years? Will that cause her to grieve? Or should we play dumb and just go-along without correcting her, and try to change the subject?

What an insidious thing it is. Worse in the afternoons and evenings (I guess she's tired from being awake all day... even though she naps often.) But, on the bright side, she still knows who we all are.

Anyway, thanks for listening. I hate seeing her decline. It makes me wonder if that's what's in store for me.

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Reply Should a loved-one who has dementia be corrected when they are wrong about something? (Original post)
NurseJackie Nov 29 OP
TEB Nov 29 #1
RainCaster Nov 29 #2
no_hypocrisy Nov 29 #3
femmedem Nov 29 #4
SallyHemmings Nov 29 #5
lettucebe Nov 29 #6
3Hotdogs Nov 29 #11
blueinredohio Nov 29 #13
pnwest Nov 29 #7
Dave in VA Nov 29 #8
DURHAM D Nov 29 #9
JudyM Dec 1 #15
NurseJackie Nov 29 #10
3Hotdogs Nov 29 #12
alittlelark Nov 29 #14
JudyM Dec 1 #16
NurseJackie Dec 1 #17
JudyM Dec 1 #18
Trueblue Texan Jan 2 #19
NurseJackie Jan 3 #20

Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 12:37 PM

1. Hugs to you and sister

Our mom is in early or dementia I have no answers

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Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 12:42 PM

2. My mom asked us when her father was coming to visit

We always told her tomorrow. It upset her when we would tell her that her dad died, but she would quickly get over it, and ask again. We decided that it was more humane to let her delusions go and not correct her.

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Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 12:45 PM

3. My experience is to go along with their misapprehensions.

It accomplishes two things in most cases:

1. It reassures them, and

2. They move on to something else to think about.

In your case, you could placate her by answering she *may* go home *soon*.


OTOH, your bluff could be blown if she wants a definite date. (My grandfather used to bug me about when was I going to get married. I answered "When I graduate law school." Well, I graduated and he was ready with "When are you going to get married?"

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Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 12:45 PM

4. I think it depends on the moment. For example,

if my mother tells me that she and Dad spent the afternoon going through their old music, I don't correct her and tell her that Dad died last year. I'm grateful that she invented a memory that makes her happy.

On the other hand, if she is worried because she thinks she hasn't heard from Dad in weeks and she thinks he has abandoned her, I tell her the truth, or modify the truth and say he's recuperating from heart surgery but he would call her if he could.

In your sister's case, you might have to weigh whether she'll remember what you told her. It might cause more worry to hear that her ex-husband is going to pick her up and take her home if she remembers that, but then it never happens. On the other hand, I don't see any down side to telling her that her parents are traveling, or whatever, and doing well.

Your sister likely won't remember what you say, but her body will either fill with feel-good chemicals if you say a comforting lie, and feel-awful chemicals if you tell her an upsetting truth. So whatever you say will determine her mood for several hours, even if she doesn't remember why a few minutes later.

I'm sorry you and she are going through this. It's a cruel, cruel disease. And yes, I worry for myself every time I can't find a word.

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Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 12:47 PM

5. Not an expert

We lost Mom in February after 6 years of Dementia/ Alzheimers.

She stopped speaking anything intelligible 5.5 years into the diagnosis. Dad only acknowledged the problem was serious after she bit him to the point it drew blood.

At some point, I was my Dad's long deceased sister. I'm just glad Mom loved her.

Mom received great care from a county facility. She passed in the hospice care they provided.

I don't envy the path you and your family are on.

For what its worth, as far as correcting her, it will only frustrate you. She may move to the next subject before you do.

I wish you and your family all the peace available on this difficult journey.

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Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 01:03 PM

6. My mother has advanced Alzheimer's and I say absolutely do not correct

It makes her happy when she asks about someone and I say they are outside or in the next room and she'll see them soon. She lives in the moment. She has no memory of the last moment. These are moments to be cherished. We are lucky that my mom doesn't know she has any impairment so she's happy. It would be much harder if someone understood things were not quite right, but I'd still not remind them of something that would then make them sad such as a loved one's passing.

Just my two cents but my mother is quite happy when she asks about someone and we tell her they are fine and I see no harm. Her reality is not ours.

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Response to lettucebe (Reply #6)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 02:34 PM

11. I agree.

The books I read say we should "go with their flow."

I recall about a neighbor who was in "memory care." She would ask about her husband and would be told that he died. She would go into crying after each episode.

Her son reasoned that lying would lead her into further mental decline.

W.T.F.?

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Response to lettucebe (Reply #6)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 02:54 PM

13. I agree do not correct them.

My dad had dementia. When he would want to go home I would tell him I had to do dishes, laundry etc. Well go when I'm finished he would be okay for a little bit. Of course he would ask again. It would go on all day but whatever worked is what we went with.

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Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 01:03 PM

7. I remind my mom that she IS home,

that she’s in her own apartment in a nice building - and she accepts that. “This is where I live now?” Yes. “Where’s my car?” It’s in the garage. (It’s not, it’s been sold). But if she believes she has the option to get in her car and go somewhere when she wants to, she relaxes. She jets upset when I tell her she can’t drive anymore, but she’s ok when I tell her the car is in the garage, locked up tight, she’s ok. She’s in a locked memory care unit, and she doesn’t even try to wander near the door anymore, she’s comfortable in the daily routine and surroundings.

The books I’ve read suggest when they ask about deceased friends or relatives, ask them about their memories of them, like “Your brother makes you laugh, doesn’t he?” Or “Your mom is a good cook, isn’t she?”

Just let her wander through the memories she’s experiencing at that particular moment, encourage her to talk about the person she’s remembering. You may have heard the story 50 times, but she’s enjoying a wonderful memory at that moment, instead of feeling sadness or confusion upon being told she’s remembering something incorrectly.

When it first began with my mom, I thought I could help her mind stay as sharp as possible for as long as possible by correcting her with accurate information- and it just got us both terribly upset and anxious. When I started reading and understanding that it’s the opposite of a child forming new neural pathways of memory and learning, that she’s literally losing those pathways one random cell at a time, and her brain is shrinking, dying from the outside in...well, it just made it easier to live with her in whatever moment she’s having before that memory is gone too.

My heart goes out to you, I know what you’re feeling right now.

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Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 01:08 PM

8. My wife facilitates an Alzheimer's Support Group

Her mother died a few years ago from this terrible disease.

Please visit this web site: alz.org

or call their 24 hour help line at: 800.272.3900

They are great with helping you with any situation or problem that you may encounter.

When my mother-in-law became unable to live at her home she moved in with us.

We called the hot line many, many times when different situations occurred.

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Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 01:15 PM

9. Unfortunately I have dealt with this.

I always tell everyone to just go where they are.

Don't correct them.

My brother never understood this. He was always correcting my mother, told her she is wrong or asking her a difficult question about something in her past. It upset her.

I lived in another part of the county and flew in every 4 or 5 weeks to visit. My mother was often in one of those lift chairs when I went in to see her. I would crawl into her lap using the chair arms to support my weight. She immediately became a mother holding her child. She called me by my name. It was like she was 22 and I was 2. It made her very happy.

At that time she no longer recognized or acknowledged my siblings who saw her almost daily. Then one day while I was visiting my sister crawled into the bed with her. My mother immediately held her and called her by name. She died a few days later.

Just go to where they are.



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Response to DURHAM D (Reply #9)

Sun Dec 1, 2019, 03:44 PM

15. Beautiful, tender story. She continued teaching you wisdom about being present in the moment.

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Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 01:38 PM

10. THANK YOU, EVERYONE... for sharing your suggestions and experiences.

This is all very new to all of us. It's also very unexpected. Mom and Dad were both sharp-witted until they died in their 90's so we thought we had "good genes" and it would never happen to us.

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Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 02:36 PM

12. Side topic. Bring them dolls. Men and women both enjoy dolls.

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Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Fri Nov 29, 2019, 04:50 PM

14. My grandmother thought I was her daughter -

The one that died when she was 4 years old - for the last 3 years of her severe alzheimers. I was born on her birthday 40 years later.

I stopped correcting her.

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Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Sun Dec 1, 2019, 04:09 PM

16. Play it by ear.

I tried to be truthful but then I began to think about what my dad would want to hear in response. It made him sad when I responded that his mom had passed, so I would try to subtly shift the conversation when I could. The suggestion above about talking in a positive way about whatever subject they raise is great advice. My dad used to see people that weren’t there, and he’s talk about them... at first we told him they were only in his mind, and that would end the convo, but as time went on I would ask him if they were nice, etc, and he would be able to talk about that as if it were a real convo we were having, and that convo was worth more than the dead-end of the truth which was not his truth. It reminded me of “A Beautiful Mind,” when he was torn between what he saw and what he was told.

In other cases, he might ask something about, e.g., science that he was trying to recall, and I’d tell the truth about that even if he was wrong, since he seemed to be able to absorb that back into his world-view and continue with whatever he’d been thinking about.

The most helpful way I’ve heard the inner experience described is that the journey of dementia/AD is like a bus... when they first board, they know what town they’re in, what street they’re on and where they’re going, as well as knowing many of the people on the bus and outside on the street. As the bus goes along, they recognize fewer and fewer people, can’t recall where they are or where they’re going, and so forth... it’s easy to understand how challenging it must be as touch points are lost along the way. So, aside from healthcare, comforting by the loved ones is job one.

Very best of luck and strength to you on your own hard journey.

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Response to JudyM (Reply #16)

Sun Dec 1, 2019, 05:01 PM

17. Thank you for the feedback.

And, thank you for sharing your experiences.

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Response to NurseJackie (Reply #17)

Sun Dec 1, 2019, 05:42 PM

18. Sure... it was a labor of love...

FWIW, there are some things you might want to check in out, including cannabis. That helped my dad cognitively as well as easing physical discomfort and lifting mood.

I’ve done a lot of reading about current research in preventing/slowing progression of cognitive decline. Studies have been consistent in showing that exercise/physical activity is significant to stem the progression of the disease.

There’s also research showing diet is important, as are some supplements. My mother’s doc said B Vitamins and magnesium. I found that a particular form of magnesium (“threonate”) has yielded positive results in some studies (can’t find it at drugstores, but online or at Whole Foods type stores - Jarrow’s MagMind supplement has that kind of magnesium in it.)

Rhodiola is another useful supplement, and Lions Mane mushroom, and curcumin ... There are articles on research for other supplements as well. I try to keep current by searching on the sciencedaily website. Here’s a little to read if you’d like. YYMV ...

http://alzheimersprevention.org/4-pillars-of-prevention/pillar-1-diet-supplements/

https://vitalitymagazine.com/article/top-10-supplements-preventing-reversing-alzheimers-dementia/amp/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6345333/

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Response to NurseJackie (Original post)

Thu Jan 2, 2020, 10:29 PM

19. I work with the elderly...

....and have training with memory care. The most compassionate and practical way you can respond to your sister is to remember her version of reality is different from yours and respect that. There is no practical reason to make her repeat the grief of losing a loved one, no reason to create anxiety that she must stay where she doesn’t want to stay. Redirect her attention, answer her questions in a way that will comfort her, not challenge her version of reality, and will move her forward to happier thoughts. Try not to challenge her or “help” her remember by encouraging her to try harder or by quizzing her on details you think she should know. She is truly doing her best. Try to make her feel loved and share happy memories with her as she is able to access them. Try never to challenge, quiz, or educate her to a reality that conflicts with her own. Sensory pleasures experienced in music, visual arts, and movement such as dance and physical contact such as massage are great ways to share joy with your loved one. Even reading can be a pleasureable shared experience. I hope this helps. Just do your best and love and appreciate her. Redirection is a skill that will serve you both well.

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Response to Trueblue Texan (Reply #19)

Fri Jan 3, 2020, 06:10 AM

20. I very much appreciate your insights and comments...

... thanks for checking-in and sharing.

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