How can I help my mother deal with believing that her parents are still alive?

Sad in georgia asked...

My 76 year old mother wants to call her deceased parents. I have explained that they died years ago and they are in heaven. She says she knows that but still wants to call them. What should I say? She seems to believe me and not believe me at the same time.

Expert Answer

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

It is not unusual for people with Alzheimer's disease to want to call their parents believing that they are still alive.  If telling them "the truth" does not work  I use the "fix the problem" approach.  Either give her the phone to 'talk" to them or tell her they are on vacation and she can record a message in a tape recorder to send to them.   Then whenever she becomes upset and wants to talk to them you can have her record more messages.  Validate her feelings by telling her that you know how much she misses them and encourage her to talk to you about them.  Remember "joining in their journey, their reality, helps them LIVE  a happier life.