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Coping with historical grief

Vane55a

New member
Aug 5, 2022
5
0
Hi, not really sure where to start, my Mothee has Alzheimer’s, and as we know historical events are more today than they were at the time, We’ve gone through a phase where she’s looking for a little girl, trying to find her at any hour of the day, regardless of the weather, the little girl was me, and I’m now over 50! This has now been replaced with the loss of both of her parents, one over 20 years ago, the other nearly 30, her grief is at times raw and really fresh, telling friends and family that they’ve both just died. Despite trips to the crematorium, which helped for a very brief time, I don’t know how to cope or what to do to move past this? I’m not one to ask for help but this is really getting me down as I can’t manage this one. Any suggestions please? Thank you x
 

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
17,558
0
68
Toronto, Canada
Hello @Vane55a and welcome to Dementia Talking Point. You will find a lot of support here.

Is your mother remembering the deaths of your parents or is she asking and being told they have died? If she is asking where they are and is being told they have died, please stop doing that and tell others to stop doing so. I did that once with my mother and she burst into a flood of tears. You see, for her it was like hearing it for the first time. She asked me why no one had told her. Yet, my mother and I were with my grandmother when she died.

I quickly learned to tell love lies. When she asked how they were, I would say "Oh, they're fine, the same as always" which wasn't really a lie as at that point both had been dead for 35+ years. When she asked where they were, I would give the name of the town where the cemetery was. When she said she wanted to visit them I would readily agree and say "Let's go the day after tomorrow as I have a dentist's appointment tomorrow". Rinse and repeat.

I know doing these things sounds a little cold but I strongly feel the most important thing is to keep the person with dementia feeling as secure, safe and contented as is possible. Sometimes it is very, very hard to do so.
 

Louise7

Volunteer Host
Mar 25, 2016
3,151
0
Hello @Vane55a welcome, but sorry to hear about your mother and her grief which must be so difficult for you. For a while my mum was asking where her brother (deceased) was and we said things like he was at work, on holiday etc but would be back soon and this seemed to help. Obviously that's not so easy to try if your mum is telling people that her parents have died rather than is just asking for/looking for them. Is there something that is triggering this do you think, like seeing photos of her parents or maybe even seeing something on the TV? If she is in a 'loop' perhaps trying to distract her and change the subject may help. In my mum's case any mention of cake/chocolate usually did the trick but with such raw grief this may not work with your mum. Is your mum on any medication? Perhaps asking the GP for a medication review might be useful in terms of reducing your mum's anxiety and distress. It's a really difficult situation to deal with but hopefully others will be along soon with other suggestions.
 
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Vane55a

New member
Aug 5, 2022
5
0
Hello @Vane55a welcome, but sorry to hear about your mother and her grief which must be so difficult for you. For a while my mum was asking where her brother (deceased) was and we said things like he was at work, on holiday etc but would be back soon worked and this seemed to help. Obviously that's not so easy to try if your mum is telling people that her parents have died rather than is just asking for/looking for them. Is there something that is triggering this do you think, like seeing photos of her parents or maybe even seeing something on the TV? If she is in a 'loop' perhaps trying to distract her and change the subject may help. In my mum's case any mention of cake/chocolate usually did the trick but with such raw grief this may not work with your mum. Is your mum on any medication? Perhaps asking the GP for a medication review might be useful in terms of reducing your mum's anxiety and distress. It's a really difficult situation to deal with but hopefully others will be along soon with other suggestions.
 

Vane55a

New member
Aug 5, 2022
5
0
Thank you for your response, I’m not sure there’s a trigger, but I’ll see if there’s something I’m missing. I’ve recently had a review with her meds which have seen an improvement since the last one, maybe the anxiety is causing this to come to a head, I’ll bring this up next time. Thanks again this is invaluable x
 

Louise7

Volunteer Host
Mar 25, 2016
3,151
0
Both anxiety and depression are fairly common with dementia and sometimes a mild anti-depressant can be helpful. Hope you find something that will help your mum, keep posting to let us know how you get on.
 

Vane55a

New member
Aug 5, 2022
5
0
Both anxiety and depression are fairly common with dementia and sometimes a mild anti-depressant can be helpful. Hope you find something that will help your mum, keep posting to let us know how you get on.
Thank you, it’s really comforting to get your response. We do have an antidepressant which has been increased from the minimum dose to the next level, when we had the last review I could see a difference, Mum has pretty much stopped liking for the ‘little girl’, maybe another increase may be what we need, thank you 😊
 

Vane55a

New member
Aug 5, 2022
5
0
Thanks again for all of your responses, some times you feel very alone and not sure where to turn, to know we’re sharing these situations is a great comfort. I have a very kind and understanding husband, he too is very new to this and all help is greatly appreciated x
 

CannaLily

New member
Aug 7, 2022
1
0
I am also grateful for the replies on this thread. I'm quite new to this - caring for my mother - and didn't know how to tackle the recurring grief for family members who have been dead for years. I handled it all wrong, but will follow the tips above from now on. I was also very interested that some sufferers have been prescribed anti-depressants. I asked our doctor about that, but he was very dismissive and told me it could just make the dementia worse.
 

Jaded'n'faded

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
3,428
0
High Peak
The risk with anti-depressants is more that they can have a sedative effect which can increase the risk of falls. People with dementia tend to get a bit wobbly anyway so anything that might increase unsteadiness has to be carefully considered...
 

Shedrech

Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
12,473
0
Yorkshire
Hello @CannaLily
A warm welcome to DTP
I'm glad reading posts is already helping you
Prescribing meds is a balancing of effect and side-effect ... dad did take an anti-depressant and it helped him without making his dementia or steadiness worse, these things are individual ... if you think something might help your mother, maybe talk with the GP again