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My mum inlaw constantly asks where her parents are although they died 35 years ago


Registered User
Jul 9, 2015
Mum in law has been in a home for 6 months and is doing well but although never talks about her late husband, she constantly tries to ring mum and dad and gets frustrated when she can't get through. We've been told not to remind her they are not here anymore but she does remember that she can't seem to get through on the phone even though she forgets most other things. Feeling awful when she asks us " do you know where they are?" or "Have you spoken to them recently?"

Any advice??


Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
South coast
When my widowed mum asked me if I had seen her husband recently I would say vaguely "no, not recently, Im afraid" and start talking about something else. If she continued fretting I suggested that perhaps hes away for a few days/shopping/working.

Please dont tell her that they have died. In my innocence the first time that she asked I told mum that her husband had died - never again, she was so upset.


Registered User
Aug 24, 2013
Like Canary says it's best to deflect, my wife askes about her mum who died when my wife was 8 years old and her dad who died when she was about 20 (so 40 years ago).
I just use the old lines "out at work, on holiday, it's dark outside so they're probably in bed" anything that keeps her happy. I only get asked once or twice a week so it's not a big problem, just say you've spoken to them and they're all fine and asked how she is.


Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
SW London
When my mother asked the same about parents who'd been dead 30+ and 50+ years, I used to say I hadn't seen them for a while. (!) When she wanted to go and see them ('They must be getting old and could do with some help') I would say yes, maybe we could go tomorrow, when the roads weren't so busy, or some other plausible excuse. Sometimes I would add that I'd give them a ring later to see when they'd like us to go, since we wouldn't want to go all that way and find them out, would we?

Her short term memory was almost non existent by then, so quite apart from upsetting her it would have been useless to tell her that they were dead - she'd have forgotten again so quickly. I was able to use the same 'love lies' over and over - she never remembered that I'd said much the same before, and they alway kept her happy, which was the most important thing.


Registered User
Dec 10, 2009
Maybe I'm a little crazy, but when my late wife use to talk about her parents and attempted to make her way home, I joined her in the world of her past, and happy to so.

One can learn a lot from a parent or grandparent of a time and place long passed. I met my wife in the early 1950s and retain very fond memories of her home in West Auckland, Co. Durham. It was my very first introduction to what family life was like. My memories of the people and the close knit community I still now bask in the warmth of them. So it was nice to enter into a conversation regards her childhood days family and friends.

When she attempted to make her way 'home', I'd take her by the hand and we'd set off chatting all the way. After a while she'd become tired and we'd return home for a rest and cup of tea. The home of her childhood had been demolished some fifty years earlier. I'm pleased to say the memories of the place are still fresh in my mind.

One of the many lessons I learned in the years of looking after my wife was, the earliest memories and experiences are the deepest embedded and they make you the person you later become.
Of course you can ignore this, it's just been my mindset to managing Alzheimer's.


Registered User
Mar 2, 2012
Telling an Alzheimer's patient that Mum etc died years ago could cause a massive shock to the sufferer as if they had never known of the death and grieving could follow, maybe causing massive deterioration to them. I often tell people about this, some are not aware, unbelievably.

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