Different with different people

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by RosieF, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. RosieF

    RosieF Registered User

    Feb 18, 2016
    Hi, I am new to this forum and I have a question. When I am talking to my mum she doesn't know where she is or if anyone has been or if the food in the fridge is hers etc, however if she talks to my brother ten minutes later she is able to chat about her meals, the weather, watching the birds in the garden. Why is this and how can I help mum with my conversations? Thank you
  2. Cat27

    Cat27 Volunteer Moderator

    Feb 27, 2015
  3. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Hello rosie and welcome to Talking Point.

    I find with mum that her memory is like a light bulb thats going - it keeps flickering on and off. If she makes a huge effort (usually when someone is visiting or shes got a medical appointment) then she can hold everything together and sound perfectly lucid - for a while. Then she worn out from the effort and cant hold it together anymore.
    I suspect thats what your mum is doing when she talks to your brother.
  4. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    Hi RosieF
    and a warm welcome from me too
    I wonder - if you listen to your mum's conversations with your brother, is she actually giving specific and accurate information? My dad was very good at covering up with general 'polite conversation' type comments and answering questions in a vague way - to the other person it seemed as though he was really taking part in the conversation but for me, listening in, it was clear that dad was not talking about the lunch he had just had eg tomato soup and ham sandwiches, when he said it was delicious and he'd eaten lots and was very full now, and yes of course he'd enjoyed the pudding ..... Dad had a lot of stock phrases he used to cover up that he didn't really know what to say.
    We've all been trained to 'chat' about the weather and general stuff, and the 'hostess mode' kicks in using these clichés - but it's just telling the other person what they want to hear, not actually passing on real information. (Not surprising as we all do it = 'How are you?' 'I'm fine, thanks for asking' when actually you are dog tired and fighting off the flu)
    With you, your mum can relax and isn't putting on a front - so you get the real confusion and forgetfulness.
    This 'hostess mode' can actually be a real nuisance as many people don't listen carefully and are fooled by it so don't believe the person with dementia is 'as bad' as the carer knows s/he is. I hope your brother does realise that your mum is effectively putting on a show for him.
  5. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015

    Hi RosieF. Welcome to this wonderfully supportive community!
    Thank you for asking this question because it has made me realise that my mum does the same thing with visitors (not with medical staff though - she leaves me to answer for her.)
    Shedrech, I have never heard of 'hostess mode' but it all makes sense now!! I have always felt that the rest of the family (other that OH who sees what I see) must think that I am exaggerating because, other than being a bit vague, she seems relatively OK with them!!!!
  6. tatty

    tatty Registered User

    Oct 14, 2015
    It is an apt description 'hostess mode' MIL has got it down to a T apart from her lack of hearing means sometimes she anticpates the question incorrectly so will fail to keep up the front,

    However 'oh yes it was quite nice' = answer to 'did you have a nice time at daycare? Daycare dinner= ' its quite good value'........home dinner = "gosh what a big dinner I won't be able to eat all that "(then polishes every last morsel).
    How are you = 'well as I, always say not bad for an old woman'.......

    At a family party she was doing really well until she spilt her champagne all over her skirt... had the fuss of a mop up etc... then 3mins later wondering and asking everyone did the know why her chair/skirt was wet....then I got a few sympathtic looks and she not as good as she first apprears comments ..... unfortuantely the one who has been the most 'fooled' by hostess mode was the SW who was so impressed she accused us of lying regarding MIL needs:mad:

    I do feel that pwd will 'up their game' with visitors etc and especially anyone they wish to impress- part of human nature in general -just sustaining it 24/7 or over a period of an hour plus is to exhausting and progressively unsustainable.... it must be abit like when the visitors go and you can take off your posh frock and eat on trays and not do the washing up before bed! (the relief of not having to always be trying your hardest and letting your inner slob out -well in my case anyhow):D
  7. Pear trees

    Pear trees Registered User

    Jan 25, 2015
    I don't know if this is hostess mode, but my MIL offers to make all visitors a cup of tea every 5 minutes.
    Now we help her make one for everyone on arrival, politely refuse the rest, and then make her one when leaving, otherwise we'd spend all our time in the loo! She has always been very welcoming and sociable and still tries to have a conversation but repeats everything endlessly.
  8. Gwendy1

    Gwendy1 Registered User

    Feb 9, 2016
    I know my dad used to be able to convince everyone else he was fine a couple of years ago, apart from those who knew him best- ie. me and my poor late mum! He was even assessed by Gp, who told him he was 'fine', when in reality, he thought 1am was a good time to go to Tesco/church. ! It's difficult, thinking of u. X
  9. Selinacroft

    Selinacroft Registered User

    Oct 10, 2015
    I get this to with Dad. I see all the potty things he says and does all week. On the odd occasion brother turns up he either dozes off and looks asleep or he can sound quite normal so I'm sure my brother thinks I exaggerate his dementia. My brother still thinks it is partial deafness and stubbornness.

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