Dear Carol: Mom is 93 with mid-level dementia. She is constantly asking for her sons, but when she sees them, she says they are not her sons and she gets upset. She thinks something has happened to her children. Needless to say, this frustrates us all, mostly because we hate to see her so confused and in emotional pain. How on earth do people handle this? - Angel
Dear Angel: As hard as your mother’s confusion and anger are to accept, her behavior is very normal for people in certain stages of Alzheimer’s.
As you’ve seen, explaining repeatedly that these grown men are her sons doesn’t help. Arguing just upsets people with AD because in their mind they are right. And they are – they are just mentally in the wrong moment of their history. Being told they are wrong only makes them more confused and anxious. Therefore, it’s likely time for some “therapeutic fibbing.” Don’t think of it as lying. You are telling her “fibs” out of compassion, not out of malice. You are being kind by not insisting she join you in your reality when she is unable to do so.
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