Pittsburgh / Allison Park Senior Care Blog

How Should You Respond When Your Parent with Dementia Starts Looking for a Deceased Loved One?

By Erin Carll

Home Care in Gibsonia PA

The first few times that your elderly loved one starts asking for a loved one who has passed away, you might find yourself at a loss as to what to do. Dementia removes your loved one's ability to differentiate between the past and the present. Your loved one may believe that people from her childhood are nearby. Responding to these situations can be tricky, but it's important to find the right response for your loved one.

Ask Your Loved One More about the Loved One She's Asking About

Sometimes an elderly loved one is asking about or looking for a loved one because she's trying to remember that person or she simply wants to talk about that person. When she brings up that individual, try asking more about that person. Ask what that person looked like, what that person's personality was like, and what your loved one loved about that person.

Distract Your Loved One with Another Topic or Activity

Another option is to attempt to distract your loved one with another topic or activity. You might want to suggest a snack or even a walk around the block. It's possible that your loved one is focusing on someone from her past because she's bored, but another consideration could be that your loved one has some unmet needs. Double check to make sure that she's not hungry, thirsty, or in need of a bathroom break.

Weigh the Risks of Being Completely Honest with Your Loved One

When your loved one is worried about a loved one who has passed away, you might feel torn about whether to let her know that the person has actually passed away. Telling your loved one has the advantage of alleviating some of her worry, but it can also backfire. You might need to use your judgment in this situation to weigh the risks of upsetting your elderly loved one too much.

If you're not sure you're responding properly, talk to your loved one's doctor and to her home care providers. Both have experience with this type of situation and can give you advice that can help.

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring in-home care in Gibsonia, PA, please call the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (412) 201-0712.