Forgetting is an everyday affair when dementia creeps into a family’s life. For adult children it presents a conversation conundrum.
Speaking with fragile parents as they recall even more fragile memories can be frustrating and time consuming. Used to functioning as knowledgeable and independent individuals, people with memory challenges do not expect to be corrected. And yet, as the memory grows ever weaker, many of their comments and recalled memories are erroneous. Moreover, a parent can often forget a comment that was made a few minutes ago, so it’s repeated — sometimes over and over.
So what to do? Should I correct or not correct?
Several years ago I decided not to correct my parents, and today I never correct my father unless I can expand the conversation to include more accurate information. Nothing good comes from correcting a faulty statement or even reminding a parent or any other person with dementia that he or she is repeating comments over and over. And if it is a question, I just keep answering it when it’s asked a second or third time.
Honestly, it’s not worth the trouble and especially not worth the pained, distressed, or even angry look on a parent’s face when an adult child points out that something was wrong or incorrect.
So most often now, I nod my head or acknowledge a comment, sometimes for the same thing many times. But that’s the way when coping with the challenges of with memory loss.
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