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What to do when a parent no longer knows her children?

AntinTZ

New member
Feb 1, 2020
1
When my mum asked me recently, 'when did we first meet?' I laughed, 'you have known me since forever', I said. She was surprised but accepted it. But in the days that followed it began to become a bone of contention; I was clearly lying she said. At first I was hurt,then sad and then accepting. I could be her friend, I told myself. But when I prompt her for her children's names, she lists us all correctly. Why does this happen - why do children become so abstract? and what's the right answer - what ought I say? remind her, 'I'm your daughter, Mum', or go along with what she believes? I have so much to learn. Thank you for listening.
 

LadyA

Registered User
Oct 19, 2009
13,563
Ireland
It's one of the saddest aspects of the illness, I think. It seems just so unlikely that a mother would forget and not recognise her children, or a husband his wife, or whatever. My husband asked me one day what my name was. I told him my first name, and he said "No, your other name." I told him. He laughed delightedly and said "Ha! Same as mine!! No wonder I like you!" :D

Maybe just tell your mum you've known her "a while". You could also try, if you have them, making a sort of booklet of photos of you as a child, as you grew up, and then as an adult, so she can maybe make a connection. I did that for my husband, with his adult children. It kind of worked, for a little while.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
70,711
Kent
Hello @AntinTZ

I found the least upsetting way was to go along with whatever my mother or my husband said. Both forgot who I was, at first occasionally then later more regularly. Eventually neither was able to name me but both knew I was part of their lives.

The first time we are not known it`s a shock, then eventually we realise its part of the progression of dementia and the best way is to accept it.
 

northumbrian_k

Registered User
Mar 2, 2017
969
Newcastle
You just have to accept it as part of the disease I am afraid. It goes along with believing that parents are still alive, believing in non-existent siblings, and thinking of children as though they are still infants. My wife has done all of these and sometimes does not see me as her husband but some other person called K. The facts of your relationship do not matter compared to her continuing to trust in your love.
 

Lyd

Registered User
May 27, 2019
67
You just have to accept it as part of the disease I am afraid. It goes along with believing that parents are still alive, believing in non-existent siblings, and thinking of children as though they are still infants. My wife has done all of these and sometimes does not see me as her husband but some other person called K. The facts of your relationship do not matter compared to her continuing to trust in your love.
That is so beautifully put. My MIL has no idea who we are "the friends down the road" and yet know she can trust in our love. While its so sad she doesnt know my other half is her son he takes great pleasure when she asks him where his mother (me).
 

Champers

Registered User
Jan 3, 2019
228
Totally with all the above.

it is quite a shock and hard to absorb when you first realise your parent or OH can’t place you, but I’m afraid you have to accept it. It’s so tough.

I spend the whole of my visits to Mother in her CH answering questions about family members that she either thinks are still alive or has confused their relationship to her. She has completely forgotten her grandchildren so when they visit with me, I have to reintroduce them. She often thinks I’m her sister - although she never had one! She will ask me if I remember people and places she knew long before I was born.

Maybe it’s my dark humour, but she made me and my husband laugh on our last visit. “You two planning on having any more babies soon?” :eek::eek::D
 

Sarasa

Registered User
Apr 13, 2018
1,024
I too agree. I think if you look a bit like a family member would have looked years ago that will confuse things. Last time mum saw my brother she asked him how old she was when she met him. It was obvious from subsequent remarks she thought he was my long dead dad. The two do look very similar, same mannerisms etc. I sometimes do a double take when I see him. I look rather like my mum, so the carers often say we are sisters, which led to mum thinking I WAS her sister for a while. Again someone who died years ago and who I look nothing like. Mum now seems to remember I'm her daughter, but still asks me how my mum is. She hasn't said my name in ages so I think that's been forgotten.
I don't find the not knowing people or the wanting to go and see her parents as hard as when she was accusing the neighbours of stealing things. I can go along with muddles over who people are, but agreeing to accusations of theft seemed different, specially as I felt mum would take us going along with as reinforcing her beliefs.
 

MrsV

Registered User
Apr 16, 2018
148
Northamptonshire
Hi There,
I have this too with my Mum. About a month ago she flatly refused to believe I'm her daughter, When she asked me why I was in her house, I explained I'm your daughter, your my Mum!. Her response was heartbreaking for me. She said I am not your mother, how could I be, stop saying that, your a liar, Ive got 2 lovely little daughters, your not my daughter. I asked if she remembered me, she totally denied me, said I'm a troublemaker and a liar and pushed me to the door and threw me out of her house. It really upset me. When I told me children they couldnt believe it.
But here we are a month or so later and I've just had to accept that I'm just someone who pops around to visit. She has no idea who I am now. But If I call her Mum she goes crazy, tells me I cant call her that. So its easier to just let it go. Still upsetting though.

There is no point taking my grown up children around as she hasn't got a clue who they are and doesn't like people in the house. She says tell them to go away, they're not getting anything off me. When in fact they bought their grandma some flowers and came to visit. They wont go now, they dont like her anymore, and I cant blame them. I hate this disease :(
 

Shedrech

Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
8,811
Yorkshire
hello @AntinTZ
welcome to DTP

I tend to think of it that your mum has slipped in time ... for her she is her much younger self so she is looking for people as they looked then ... so she knows she has children but is looking for youngsters not grown ups ... having a mature woman say she is her daughter is therefore clearly ridiculous (any mother would react that way if faced with a person of the same age claiming to be her child)

you seem to be accepted by her as someone significant to her, so maybe take that and be her friend with the same name as her daughter, calling her by her name so as not to distress her ... if she talks of her children, enjoy her memories with her, after all you know she is talking of you