How do I cope with mum wanting her mum?


Registered User
Mar 15, 2006
Mum is continually wanting her mum, or her mum and dad, or wanting to go 'home'.
In the past I've explained how she hasn't lived there for 56 years, how her mum died about 12 years ago, her dad 33 years ago, just before I got married. She is now getting distressed. for example when I arrived at her house to pick her up for Christmas she was unsure whether to go with me (I'm her eldest daughter, live near and see her every day at least) In the end we agreed she'd ring her mum from my house. Later she wanted to take her things to show her mum and dad. Yesterday she was upset when I explained they'd died and I felt bad about telling her. Then in the next breath she was planning their Christmas presnts.
What do other people on TP do ?
How do I explain................or don't I?
Also she has lived in her bungelow since 1991, she chose it herself and was thrilled with it, but now believes its somewhere she is staying in and will soon return home to her childhood home and mum and dad. The home she refers to was sold to a distant family member and she has an idea someone is living in it now, but then again she is ready to go back to mums for comfort.
Once after an explanation she asked where her mum and dad were buried..should I take her there (the ashes were put in an old family plot so it won't say their names)? Should I find an old photo to put flowers by as my aunt does? Or is she better living with her happier memories?
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Registered User
Jul 2, 2006
Newport, Gwent
Hi Zadok

So sorry to see that your mum is confused, it's a tough one. I have no experience with 'lost' past relatives, however my mum wants to 'go home', (now lives in a NH).

However the home she refers to was some 6 houses ago, she lived there 53 years ago. To be honest I tell a fib and say the builders are in!! I used to 'try and put the record straight' and explain when, where etc. but to be honest, it just caused more distress to her, so I fib big time, and for now its working. Mind you, its very much Groundhog day, I may tell her this dozens of times a visit because she has forgotten she has already asked me, and the answer I gave.

I think only you really know whats the best thing to do, but I think little fibs along the way do no harm if mum accepts your explanation. I think you just do what you have to so as not to cause more distress and confusion. My mum sometimes calls me her dead sisters name, I dont take any notice or correct her, whats the point.

Take care

Michael E

Registered User
Apr 14, 2005
Ronda Spain
Zadok hi,

Wanting to go home and particularly wanting her mum or even dad is something I have lived with for the last couple of years. Every day sometimes all day and certainly every night!

Following a well intentioned suggestion of my daughter I went down the road of telling the truth. They are dead. (actually did it a bit nicer than that but I told the exact truth)

What a disaster! Nightmare.... Broken hearted Monique... "I am an orphan - I have nobody". "I am all alone" real heartbreak time I can assure you.. Made her a very unhappy bunny... After a little truth I reverted to "they are in Dreux" the town in France in which they are buried and where Monique grew up.. Gradually she 'forgot' that they were dead and these days, in the evening or sun-downing I just say her mum will be along tomorrow morning. Tell her it is a certainty! She has always forgotten by the morning so no harm is done and we go round the same circle in the evening but without the tragic heartbreak of having to cope with the concept her parents have (just) died!

A hang over is that once or twice a week she still asks if somebody will 'adopt' her.

All AD cases are different but I think you should find a form or words that does not allow your mum to think she is an orphan!!!! Funny isn't it? cos of course she is.

That was my experience.


Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hi Zadok, My husband has similar problems relating to his birth family.

He is Indian, has lived in the UK for over 50 years and took out British Nationalization when our son was born, 43 years ago.

All his family are in India and I have never met any of them, as he fell out with them, when he left.

We moved to the South East 4 years ago, from the North West.

Now he continually asks me about his family. he assumes I know them, at times he believes I was born in India, but he is confusing India with the North West. He said his brother lives in Manchester and he wants to `go home` to see him. He asks where he met me, but sometimes doesn`t believe my answer. It`s round after round of muddle.

Just recently we were re-framing a photo. As I took the old frame off, out fell a photo of his mother. I had never seen this photo before, he had hidden it years ago. I got the photo touched up and enlarged but he can`t bear to look at it. The truth hurts too much. He cries every time he sees it. It is now in one of his drawers.

I don`t think you can explain anything to your mother as she is now incapable of holding any information. I`d just go along with whatever she brings up, agree with her if you need to, say you`ll take her [wherever she wants to go] tomorrow.

Bear with it. It`s really difficult and very upsetting but what else can we do.


Registered User
May 10, 2006
My mum always asks to go and visit her mother (she died over 45 years ago). At first I would tell her the truth but it was like telling her about the death for the first time, and it would always upset my mum.

Now I just tell her that her mother's away on holiday and everything is fine. I know it's a little lie but it saves her the emotional trauma of dealing with her mother's death 6 or 7 times a day.

If she asks about any of her brothers or her husband I tell her the truth and she copes fine with the news of their deaths..... But it's a different story with news of her mothers death.



Registered User
May 14, 2006
My Mum is always talking about her Mum and Dad and she thinks that my Dad, who died six years ago, gave her an illustrated book for Christmas. It was the kind of thing he might have bought so I didn't correct her. I think she also gets confused about people changing from children to adults as they grow up, because she asked how my daughter was getting on with her house decorating and if she was planning on selling it when it was finished, then later on, she wondered where the little girl was, meaning my daughter.
Now I just go along with what Mum says and try to distract her when she talks about relatives who died years ago. Sometimes the confusion is caused by not being able to remember the right word. For instance, yesterday she asked me where Dad was. I didn't know if she meant her Dad, my Dad or my husband(her grandchildren's Dad) so I just assumed she meant my husband and she was satisfied with my answer. Small children also tend to call any man in a family the Dad, even if it is really the husband of the person they are talking to, because their language is limited.
Now I feel it is best to give the answer or respond in the way which will cause the least distress and I suppose if Mum believes that my father somehow bought her a Christmas present this year, she must be feeling more secure than she was last Christmas. There is no easy solution, but we just have to do what seems right at the time.


Registered User
Dec 21, 2006

I can totally understand your predictament - but sadly I do not have any answers for you. My own strategy (sometimes it works other times it doesn't!!) It's a case of combining a bit of the truth but smoothing it off with a fib - right or wrong I do not know. It's all a bit of a 'bug**r' really and is always upsetting for you to deal with - just another bit of the person we know and love being taken away.

My Mum has AZ and she doesn't recgonise her husband (her main carer) - she keeps asking where her Dennis is - when you explain that he is sat there next to her - she simply says - no the young Dennis !!!!

As a family we have decided to create a 'memory box' for Mum- with before and after pictures - who people are now that they are older and how they looked from when she remembers them. Who knows it might help her - we are hoping that it helps us - trying to be proactive with this horried wicked disease.

Take care.


Registered User
May 12, 2006
west sussex
Mum has for some time now ask to go and see, her SIL (dead 4 years), her mother, who according to her lives with my brother, and we have even over the past weeks gone as far back as wanting to visit her own grandmother..

when she first asked to visit her mum, I asked her "how old are you?", mum said
"80" (mum is infact 85) so I then said to her "mum if you'r 85 years old how old would your mother be by now?" with this she said "why is she dead then?", I then went on to explain that she had infact been dead for 30 years. Mum couldn't believe that she was dead as she said "I don't remember seeing her in her coffin"., I went onto explain that infact she hadn't attended the funeral as she had died in Italy and that we were in the UK at the time...

we've had this conversation on many occasions, at other times, I just make up excuses as to why we can't visit, it depends onthe moment and how patient I am feeling at the time...

Last week she was talking on the phone to her own brother, and for a couple of moments I thought that she was actually having a sensible conversation...

5 minutes later she was asking me to take her to see her SIL (dead 4 years), at which I replied "you go now mum if you want to, I'll see you in about 40 years" (mum has a good sense of humour), at which she explained "why is she dead then"...


Registered User
Mar 15, 2006
Thank you

A big thank you to all of you who took the trouble to reply to my thread about mum's dead relatives.
It has helped me a great deal to think things through.
Tonight she was worrying about her brother but I was able to tell her a half truth which made her very happy.


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Candy - thank you. Made me smile :)

This thread is making me wonder about my Mother's family relationships - she never asks about her parents or my father! Sometimes confuses me with her sister (who she didn't like very much) but that's about it. We have had tears over dead pets though.



Registered User
Sep 1, 2006
Little Fibs

With Mum I just give the answers that I think will not cause any upset, not necessarily the truth, so I have to be quite inventive now as her illness has reached a certain stage. I used to like to be very honest with her, but this has to change now otherwise it confuses or upsets her unnecessarily. Mum's reality is quite different to what is so my answers have to meet her reality. I have also found you can change the subject quite quickly and move on to happier things to occupy her mind. Her time zone is strange, she is certainly not in the present a lot of the time. She is either at work or going to work or at home with her parents. When I have mentioned her age to her (in her eighties) she does not believe me!
The whole business is so weird (actually I think it has been quite good for me in a way because it has made me much more patient with other people as well). It is certainly an experience being with someone who has dementia, after talking with Mum for a while my mind is blown! ( I don't need to take any drugs!)

Eve G.

My mother has also recently been asking after her mother, who died about 20 years ago (and they never got along when she was alive!). I've been open with her about telling her her mother is dead and she's surprised, but not too upset.

Recent conversation:

Mom: Are we seeing my mother this weekend?
Me: I sure as hell hope not, she's been dead 20 years!
Mom's nurse: No, your mother is in heaven.
Mom: Oh, I don't believe in that nonsense.
[Mom's nurse terribly shocked]
Me: Even if we did believe in heaven, I seriously doubt Grandmom would have made it there.
[Mom laughs, nurse even more shocked and wondering what she's gotten into!]


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Good for your mom. Eve. One of the advantages of being elderly (or at least it should be) is being able to say what you think. Dementia can cause some embarrassing situations, but oh the joy of hearing someone refuse to be mealy-mouthed about something.



Registered User
Dec 1, 2006
One of the rare funny moments for me came a year or so ago when my mother was being visited by a GP who asked her her age. My mother (89 at the time) looked at me for an answer and said " How old am I, Debs? I must be at least 50 mustn't I?" I was 53 at the time.

I thought " Well if she only reckons she is 50, someone must be doing something right somewhere..."


Registered User
May 10, 2006
When I visited my mother on New Years Eve she gave me a great big hug, dragged me into the TV room and proudly announced that her husband had come to visit.

One of the male nurses smiled and I said

"Well it looks like I've been promoted"

Paul (43) and his mum (83) :)


Registered User
Nov 21, 2008
coping with mum wanting her mum

My mum lived with her grandmother next door to her mother, in Belfast. She moved to England when she married over 50 years ago, and the house in Belfast has been pulled down in the 1960's.

My mum did think her grandmother was dead and her mum was alive for a time, now she thinks grandmother is asleep upstairs, and she must get home in the evenings. My aunt who has worked with dementia patients calls this getting home in the evening 'sun-downing'. It is a natural reaction to want to go home (she explained it in that we would normally leave work or finish shopping, etc and go home when it gets dark, so it is natural for someone with dementia to want to keep this routine too).

if we go out mum gets concerned about grandmother, commenting she has not seen her and asking if she is ok. I generally give her a positive respond to console her, perhaps telling her grandma is having '40 winks' using terms my mother would have used. She will usually come back with a little bit of disbelief, I will say something consoling but non-commital like she is comfortable and snoozing, or that this is ok. Saying that I saw or spoke to her sometimes may get a negative response (I think mum knows in her heart grandma is not there and so this comes through in her thinking.).

My father tells mum when she asks where her mum is, that she is in Dundonald. This is the name of the area the graveyard is in. I'm not sure if mum remembers it is a graveyard all the time, and sometimes says we must go a visit.

With my mum no matter where she is either at her own home, or when at my house, she still thinks she is at her parents house and wants to go to her own house. Alternatively she wants to see her grandmother becuase she thinks she is on her own. the only suggestion I can make is try to find out why she is concerned to see the person, or ask if she misses them.

My mum lost her brother recently, but has no recollection. We tried to remind her, and initially this worked, but gradually she just got upset saying that no one told her, and she is kept in the dark. Now we just don't mention him at all, and she does not mention him either.

hope this helps


Registered User
Nov 10, 2008
Mums always want to be wanted - even passed on Mums!!!!!

Hi All
I did have to smile at all the replies and comments on this one, my Father in Law before he died last year, told MIL he was going back home to his old girlfriend, MIL was very very upset, even when he told her not to worry she could stay and keep the house, soon after I suddenly realised, he was going back to her when they were younger, made her feel much better, now she is suffering and says much the same things, about her Mum and wanting her old home and family, sometimes not remembering she also lost her daughter xmas last year.....we let her believe whatever she wants at the time, in hospital kept insisting her daughter had been loads of times, in fact it was one of the nurses with same colour hair, even said her Mum was in opposite bed, but then again so was a dog sometimes, she often asks after her animals still, we just say Oh they are fine, being looked after while we look after you, this seems to suffice till next time........I have been reading a bit on dementia lately, theres a great book on SPECAL care, its about wrap around care for dementia makes such perfect sense.....should be on everyones to read list. Oh yes they get away with blue murder and can say whatever they like, most nurses, were called fine strapping men - Ooops they were of course mostly women, and now I know she is a terrible flirt....STILL.
Thanks for all your support to my posts everyone.....MIL first day in Nursing Home, went smoothly without hiccups or so I am told, we can't visit yet till she settles in a little, so glad her day seemed to go better than ours has its been an awful day to get through.
Sooe xxxx