Mum doesn't know me anymore

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Bettybee, Mar 11, 2015.

  1. Bettybee

    Bettybee Registered User

    Nov 4, 2014
    Not quite sure how to tackle this one. Some background info: I have always kept in touch with Mum and Dad as they are only 20mins away but I have made a point of visiting them 2-3 times a week since before Christmas. Dad needs support and Mum's dementia is growing worse each week it seems. They are both in their 80s.
    We have always been a close family. It was obvious just before Christmas that she no longer knows who I am. I have accepted that. I know she is no longer the Mum I know but I still love her so much and do whatever it takes to help both her and my Dad. Every Wednesday I make a pudding at home to take to them on a Thursday. I spend the whole day there on a Thursday and always make something like a shepherd's pie or chicken casserole while I'm there. She will stand right next to me watching and wiping around me as I work. I also do a load of cleaning etc. Sometimes Mum is happy to see me, sometimes I am treated as a stranger. But last week she actually said to me 'I hope you don't mind me asking, but have you been here before?' This actually came as a shock because although I know she no longer knows me as her daughter I thought she was remembering me visiting as it is so often. I always wear the same clothes and wear my hair the same. She always recognises my handbag so I always use the same one. But my question is this:
    How do I answer her? Do I just say, 'Yes, I've been before' and leave it at that? I have tried explaining that I'm her daughter and even taken her into another room to show her a photo of Dad and I together. It is met with blank looks. I always call her Mum and make a point of doing so. But I don't think she knows what 'Mum' is or even what 'daughter' is. So if I say 'I am your daughter' it means nothing to her. I am just concerned that when I arrive she will see me as a new person each week and a stranger. And all the new relationship building I've done as a 'carer' rather than a daughter will be forgotten. I'm not sure of the best way to handle it.
  2. fredsnail

    fredsnail Registered User

    Dec 21, 2008
    I would just say that yes you'd been there before, keep it vague and if she asks more questions just try to keep it reasonably honest but vague - ie when did you come here you could reply I came last week.

    It used to work with Grandad - he could normally tell when he was fobbed off but if we answered his questions with a general or vague answer he was happy.
  3. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    My mother lived with me & my wife and when I came home from work she used to as me if "I was on duty that night" and things like that, did I have any children and more than once if my parents were still alive.
    As Fred says you can only answer vaguely and leave it at that, after a certain point trying to get them to remember is pointless, "when it's gone it's gone" as they say (well they do in Aldi's marketing department).
  4. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    Its something I'm sad to say that I have got used to. My mum lives with me. She often forgets who I am and asks where her daughter is, when I say I'm here I'm your daughter she looks so confused. She recognises photos of me her daughter but cannot connect them with me standing by her side. So now when she questions who/where her daughter is I keep it vague: she'll be back soon and when she is I will go. Its all I can do.
  5. Bettybee

    Bettybee Registered User

    Nov 4, 2014
    Hmmm. ok, thanks. I'll just keep it vague then. No point in confusing things further. I have to go early this week as I'm looking after her while Dad goes to the dentist. She will be in a mood when I get there and tell her that she can't go with him. I'm sure that he will have already primed her for what is happening, but it's gone in 5 minutes. He can't take her with him because she wanders. I will take the ingredients for shepherd's pie and make one there. She will wonder what this stranger is doing coming into her house and cooking with her things but I have to get on with it don't I.
    She will be wiping everywhere down while I'm trying to cook but hey ho. The difficulty comes when I want to wash things up and she says 'I'll do that' and takes it and washes it under a cold tap so they are not washed properly. She doesn't use hot soapy water anymore and it's a race to the sink to fill the bowl before she can grab anything!!! I'm so glad she wants to do it but trying to explain that things need hot water is a waste of time. Gosh, it's so hard!!
  6. Onlyme

    Onlyme Registered User

    Apr 5, 2010
    Mum now thinks that I am her. I feed her and she thinks my hands are hers. We had a slight wobble when she got distressed until I realised I had loud nail varnish on which she would never have worn. She will look at me and passes comment as to why her hair style has changed. She never seems to spot that my hair is a completely different colour to hers and always has been.

    Conversation is impossible as she is talking to her reflection -me!
  7. Bettybee

    Bettybee Registered User

    Nov 4, 2014
    Onlyme..That must be incredibly difficult to cope with. We just have to get on with it don't we? I've already had a toot this morning just thinking about things. I think I need to toughen up a bit.
  8. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    You may find that sometimes your Mum does know exactly who you are and can have a "much better than usual" conversation with you.

    This is what happens with my Mum ... but only when she hasn't got a slight cold, minor UTI etc and isn't tired.
  9. Owly

    Owly Registered User

    Jun 6, 2011
    Bettybee, fill the sink with hot soapy water before you do anything else in the kitchen.

    In her later months, my Mum thought Dad was "our father" so I think she thought I was her sister!

    After going to hospital near the end, I don't think she had a clue who we were when we visited. She didn't 'relate' to us at all, only showed some interest in whatever magazine or picture book I took her.
  10. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    My mother hasn't known me, or any of my 3 siblings, for ages. Before that I went through quite a long phase of being her sister, and she would ask about 'our' parents. When she was still able to produce intelligible speech - alas no longer - I was usually just a 'nice lady' who made her cups of tea etc.

    I know it's hard at first, but it's easiest just to go along with whatever will keep her happy. And you do get used to it, or at least I did, very quickly.
  11. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    I get this 'transference' more and more these days, for example when I am dressed she cannot work out why she bought the outfit and it does not suit her so goes into her bedroom and attempts to change her clothes, comes back, looks at me and cannot work out why she is wearing the same outfit she's just spent all day trying to change, only 5 minutes, but that's all day to mum.
  12. Ash148

    Ash148 Registered User

    Jan 1, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland
    Bettybee, we went through this stage with mum, even at times where she was distressed by my sister or I being there i.e. an unexplained stranger in her kitchen. Lately, although mum's illness has advanced a lot, and she is no longer at home, she often seems to know us. She regularly uses my name when I visit. I remember that stage, though, as being particularly tough for everyone concerned, mum and dad (as sometimes she didn't recognise him either) and my siblings and me. Please do try to take care of yourself as well as your mum and dad, as dementia is definitely a marathon rather than a sprint.
  13. Pottingshed50

    Pottingshed50 Registered User

    Apr 8, 2012
    When Mum was 90 we all went to Kent to celebrate her birthday. Everything was normal when all of a sudden the phone went and it was a brother on the phone ringing up to say Happy Birthday. I was sat next to her. Imagine my amazement when she suddenly said to him 'I am so lucky my friend has come to see me for the day'. Friend, I was her daughter and from that day to this she has never remembered who I am. You never forget the moment. Mum is now 95 and is in a residential care home. I ring and speak to her on the phone occasionally, I say occasionally as she wont always talk to me. I get precisely 30 seconds and she puts the phone down and always said to the Carer , who was that. So I know Mum mops and wipes around you but make the most of what you have of Mum and Dad. They are very precious moments.

    God bless.
  14. TDA

    TDA Registered User

    Mar 3, 2015
    I do let my mum wash up, I just take them off the drainer later and slip them into the dishwasher :)

    And she can still peel so she does the carrots and potatoes
  15. skaface

    skaface Registered User

    Jul 18, 2011
    I'm dreading this happening with my mum. She no longer knows who my sister is when her name is mentioned and I have to explain who "Chris" is when I mention her, though when Chris rings her she seems to accept that she's her daughter when she's told that.

    Even when my aunt rings her she tells her that I never go near her - I'm there several times a week!
  16. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Ill never forget the first time that mum looked straight at me and said "Im sorry but I dont know who you are" :(
    Ive got used to it now. Quite a lot of the time she thinks I am her mother, other times she has no idea at all.
    But her face always lights up when she sees me. :)
  17. Raggedrobin

    Raggedrobin Registered User

    Jan 20, 2014
    I don't find the transition so hard, in that Mum seems to know on some level that I am familiar. My position varies, from being friend/sister/other daughter/doctor/mother etc. I call her Mum and once she had a go at me for that 'I do wish you wouldn't call me that' as it was patently untrue.:D As we all know, Mary Berry, who is younger than her, is her mother.:)
    The mirror image in another person must be tricky, I haven't heard of that before. My mum does that with women on the telly, but that is a bit easier to deal with than the person thinking you are them, what a strange trick of identity that is.

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