My mother has advanced alzheimers. She and my father live together with a caregiver in their home. He is 91 and is presently very ill. The only person that she consistently knows is my father, they have been together for 65 yeas. If she doesn't see him in the room, she yells for him until she does. They are INSEPARABLE. When he passes, what do I do? What do I say to her about where he is? Please help. (Apprehensive Daughter)
Dear Apprehensive Daughter ,
Please do not tell her the truth! She will not retain it and will continue to ask for your father. Every time she is told, she will grieve again. Distract her with comforting short sentences. He’s coming soon, etc. Distract her with photos of your father. Try a video of him that she could see and hear. Take comfort that in a short while her consciousness of him will dissipate as this is the disease of oblivion. The expression out of sight, out of mind holds true. Comfort your mother with soft spoken words, hugs, a little humor to cajole her out of her calling for your father. She will bond with her care giver and view that person as a constant best friend. Your mother will adapt. Please take care of yourself. If you are in balance, your mother will feel it. Alzheimer’s patients sense agitation, frustration and sadness instinctually and react to these emotions. Hopefully your mother’s care giver is a bit more distanced. I am sorry for your grief.
Alzheimer's - Personal Advice Column
One of the best ways to shed stress for both patient and caregiver is to express yourself truly. Don’t suppress nagging questions or worries. Put your energy into a solution. Often two heads are better than one. Write to me and I will act as an objective friend.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer at Southampton College. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WLIE 540AM in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com