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How do i explain where my Dad is when Mum asks, he died 8 years ago.

TPSS

New member
Apr 25, 2018
5
Hi
Can somebody please give me some advise, my Mum has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's for 2 years now and has started asking me where my Dad is, he passed away nearly 8 years ago. this has happened a few times but this weekend she looked like she had been crying, I asked her what was wrong and she said I am upset and confused i don't know where dad is and i haven't done any of his washing. Mum is unable to do any washing or cook for her self now but she does think she does these things. I explained he had died but I don't think she believed me. She asked what he died of and did she go to his funeral. She then said i don't know why i don't remember. She didn't mention it the next day and neither did I . Its heart wrenching to watch her go through this and I really don't know what to say. A friend said you should just say he is out but I couldn't lie to her I don't think she would have accepted this anyway, she would have questioned where he is if I said he was out, is this a normal progressive stage? she looked me straight in the eye and I could not lie. I think mum is getting worse but some days I would say she isn't ? Thank you for the time to read this and hopefully give me some advise.
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
11,650
South coast
Im afraid this is normal in dementia.
They forget that their spouse has died and cant understand where they have got to.
Mum wondered where her husband was (died many years previously) and was convinced that he was having an affair and had left her. I told her he had died and she was devastated, so I never did that again. I dont like lying either, but I had to do it or she would get so distressed. I told her he was at work and he would be back later. I must say that I learned to lie through my teeth to keep her calm. Once they get to this stage you cannot bring them into the real world and all you can do is keep them from distress

If your mum is not distressed at being told that he has died you could continue, but if it upsets her I think you will have to use love lies - otherwise known as "therapeutic untruths" if that name helps you to feel better about.
 

TPSS

New member
Apr 25, 2018
5
Im afraid this is normal in dementia.
They forget that their spouse has died and cant understand where they have got to.
Mum wondered where her husband was (died many years previously) and was convinced that he was having an affair and had left her. I told her he had died and she was devastated, so I never did that again. I dont like lying either, but I had to do it or she would get so distressed. I told her he was at work and he would be back later. I must say that I learned to lie through my teeth to keep her calm. Once they get to this stage you cannot bring them into the real world and all you can do is keep them from distress

If your mum is not distressed at being told that he has died you could continue, but if it upsets her I think you will have to use love lies - otherwise known as "therapeutic untruths" if that name helps you to feel better about.
Thank you, its so hard when some days she seems ok and then 10 minutes later she says something strange. She forgets the carer came in to get her up that day, wouldn't know my sister had been in 1 hour ago but remembers something I did when I was 12? The asking about my Dad is all very new but this week she has asked twice, and she always mentions about not washing his shirts. Does this mean its progressing? thank you again
 

karaokePete

Registered User
Jul 23, 2017
5,279
N Ireland
The ability to form short term memories is lost early on in many people with dementia because of pathology in the relevant part of the brain. They just can't make such memories any more.

Mostly all that remains is long term memories because they have already been processed by the brain and so these are recalled, sometimes as if it happened yesterday.
 

Beate

Registered User
May 21, 2014
11,902
London
I'm afraid "I can't lie" is not an option when it comes to dementia. They live in a different reality to ours and their truth is not our truth. Your goal is to reduce anxiety whenever possible. If that means telling fibs and distracting your Mum to a different topic, this is what you must learn to do. This is what dealing with dementia is about. There's a brilliant article about compassionate communication here:

https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/threads/compassionate-communication-with-the-memory-impaired.30801/
 

Margi29

Registered User
Oct 31, 2016
1,224
Yorkshire
Dad died 5 years ago. This has become a ' normal question ' as the Alzheimer's and vascular dementia has progressed with mum. I used to tell her the truth, but now when she says ' have you seen your dad ' ???
I just say ' no ' then quickly switch the subject to another, it's awful, she doesn't remember funeral etc..

I must say she has it in her head he's left her for another woman, I just nod.

Months ago mum said ' the dirty dog had better not be up to his old tricks ' I smiled and said ' no he loves you '
 

KathrynAnne

Registered User
Jun 6, 2018
270
South Yorkshire
I’ve had this with my Mum too. At first I would tell her Dad had died but I soon realised that upsetting her time and time again is the wrong thing to do. The PWD is convinced their partner is still alive and so telling them they have passed away is like the bereavement happening afresh all over again. Instead of thinking it is wrong to lie you need to turn it around and think it is wrong to upset your Mum. I know it is going against your instincts but these repeated questions won’t stop so you need to manage the situation as best you can. I sometimes say I’m not sure where my Dad is and we’ll telephone in a while if he’s still not back. I then distract with something else. Good luck xx
 

saskia

Registered User
Aug 10, 2015
124
North Essex
Hi

This works for us..my mum will ask where dad is (in all various ways) & I always just give her a hug..this seems to trigger something in mum ..cos she immediately realises / remembers he is gone.
I know it's not for everyone, but I go along with every other 'Love lie' I can, so this works.
Sas xx
 

Lilye

Registered User
Oct 15, 2016
15
My Mum was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia 3 years ago and we think it may of started quite a while before that. Its her Mum and Dad that my Mum asks after. When she first asked me it came out of the blue so I told her the truth that Gran had died over 30 yrs ago and Granddad almost 30. Mum became very distressed and then said that no one had told her and why hadn't we said anything, it was heartbreaking. She still asks after them especially my Gran but it seems to come in spates. I have never lied so much in my life but if it is in Mums best interest then so be it however when it comes to my Gran I find it extremely difficult to know what to say so I try and deflect the question, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. The saddest thing is if there was ever a time when my Mum really needed her Mum its now especially as Mum also has cancer and could really do with having her Mums arms around her. As Mum is 86 then of course my Gran would no longer be here anyway but sadly she died young at the age of 72.
 

lilperson

Registered User
Jan 11, 2015
10
Taunton
My OH tells me that his mum ( who died nearly 20 years ago) has rented a room in the house that overlooks our garden and watches him to make sure that he "helps" me. I did tell him a couple of times that she had died or explain that since she lived in Australia it was unlikely she would rent a room here but now I just change the subject. :rolleyes:
 

looviloo

Registered User
May 3, 2015
463
Cheshire
Don't think of it as lying, because it really isn't... it's a way of causing the least distress and helping the PWD (and you!) to cope with a very difficult situation.

My dad asks about mum every time he sees me. She died 14 years ago. I always say 'she's fine, everyone's fine' and that is enough to satisfy him. I'd say it's part of the ritual we go through now, and helps to calm him. It's as if he needs to hear those words in order to move on. So sad and difficult but you'll get there, and find what works for you and your mum x
 

Shedrech

Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
8,791
Yorkshire
hello @Lilye
welcome to posting on TP
sounds as though your poor mum and you are facing challenging times - neither of you have your gran to give you a hug and 'make it better' as mum's do - your mum is a fortunate woman to have such a caring daughter looking out for and after her
sending a virtual blanket of sympathy to wrap around you both
 

Bald guy

Registered User
Jul 26, 2017
5
My Father died on my birthday last year, from day one my mother could not take this in so we find it easier just to go along with it. Mum can get quite angry about him being out, at work or even with another woman so sometimes it can prove difficult, my father was a good man and a best friend so it can prove quite difficult not to let it get me down. It’s a year tomorrow so I’m having a little me time hoping on my motorcycle and spending a night in Pembrokeshire as I want to spend a day remembering my father and not playing the imaginary present tense with mum.
 

Bald guy

Registered User
Jul 26, 2017
5
My Father died on my birthday last year, from day one my mother could not take this in so we find it easier just to go along with it. Mum can get quite angry about him being out, at work or even with another woman so sometimes it can prove difficult, my father was a good man and a best friend so it can prove quite difficult not to let it get me down. It’s a year tomorrow so I’m having a little me time hoping on my motorcycle and spending a night in Pembrokeshire as I want to spend a day remembering my father and not playing the imaginary present tense with mum.
 

looviloo

Registered User
May 3, 2015
463
Cheshire
I've just come back to this thread... it's so sad to keep being reminded of lost loved ones :(. That's why I find it easiest to have a stock answer and then immediately change the subject.

A lady in my dad's care home used to tell me that she was just waiting for her mother to come and collect her, and take her out for the afternoon. I always smiled and said 'that's nice'. The lady was 101.
 

Helly68

Registered User
Mar 12, 2018
559
I have this with my Mum, 82, who has asked when her father is going to visit....

I have tried everything but,as people say above, what seems to work best is "I don't think he will come today" and a quick change of subject. She cannot grasp that he is dead and also confuses him with my father, her husband - "Daddy" has become a very generic term and I understand that this isn't unusual. I think there comes a point when the PWD grasp on or view of the world is so different - and I don't mean this negatively, that lying almost isn't the issue. Mummy has lost a lot of language and frequently doesn't make sense. If I say "Mummy, I have no idea what you are on about" - which I have, in moments of stress, she is more upset that if I nod and smile and pretend to have understood what she is saying.
 

zillah

Registered User
Dec 17, 2012
5
I truly empathise with what you are going through. It's a learning curve and I think that most of us have found that the best way forward is never to challenge the PWD. They are unable to step into our world - we must step into theirs. I understand how hard it feels to lie (having been through it myself) but, as most of the replies have said, it is without doubt kinder to lie than to force the PWD to hear bad or sad news over and over again because,through no fault of their own, they cannot recall being told. I never repeated to my Mum about the death of close people around her when she asked (hundreds of times) how they were. I would try to respond in a way that was "relevant" to the person she was asking after. For example, she would get anxious about my Dad coming home for his tea (he had died 15 years ago) and I would tell her not to worry because I'd told him we were going to be late back and that we'd left him a meal in the fridge. This would placate her and the "awkward moment" would pass. My uncle who died just before his 100th birthday was someone she had idolised and looked up to. I had to decide what to do when he died. I carefully explained to her very slowly that basically he had died peacefully & painlessly in the night and was found by his carer in the morning. Her reply (which I was dreading) was only that she felt so sorry for the carer.... and promptly forgot that he had died. I made a decision then never to remind her again when she asked repeatedly about him. I would give an "update" on him explaining that he was 100 and unable to get out but he sends his love and (more importantly) I tell her that I've sent her love back to him. I hope this helps. We all have to practise being patient and being skilful in our communication with a PWD. Also, I never challenged my Mum by saying things like "I've told you that already" or "Oh for goodness sake, you know......" This puts the PWD in a Red scary defensive zone. How would we feel being berated about something we have no recollection of. It would not make us feel good or valued, more likely we'd feel scared and anxious. I wish you all the best for your future interactions - the more practice you do, the easier it becomes, just like any skill in life!
 

hilaryd

Registered User
May 28, 2017
84
It is hard not to tell the truth to someone you love, and it can be difficult to find 'love lies' that will placate them, but I think it's definitely kinder than causing them repeated unnecessary distress. Like @Lilye's, my mum used to ask about her own mum and worry that she hadn't seen her for ages. I used to make excuses such as saying in winter that she was probably staying indoors in the bad weather, and that we should do the same and then maybe visit when it got warmer, and/or suggest writing her a letter in the meantime. That usually seemed to satisfy mum, although she never actually got round to writing the letters! It did still make me sad though, especially when she said things like 'I thought mum would have come to see me for my birthday'.
 

DeMartin

Registered User
Jul 4, 2017
711
Kent
Mum, who thinks I’m her sister is always asking after dad, I just tell her I think he’s working.
 

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