My mother has been diagnosed with dementia. How important is it to know the stage of dementia/Alzheimer’s? How can we break her obsession that my father is cheating on her? It’s taking a toll on all of us.

I am so very sorry for this diagnosis with your Mom. I am sure your family is constantly adjusting and trying to understand what is happening. It is a difficult road but it sounds as if your Mom is fortunate enough to have a caring and supportive family helping her.

Knowing about where she is with the dementia can sometimes help be prepared with what might be coming (sundowning, incontinence, etc). Although there aren’t medical treatments to differentiate between stages like with other maladies, being prepared can help a small way in easy the burden and not having to feel as if you are constantly putting out fires.

Since each patient and progression of the disease differs, it is very difficult to be completely prepared, but it does help to have your mind prepared. There isn’t too much you can do about her belief about your father. No matter how many times you tell her, it will be as if you have never mentioned anything to her at all. This process can be so very frustrating.

Instead of changing her mindset (which won’t happen), you may need to change the mindset in your family. If you all know he didn’t and isn’t having an affair, is it possible to just go along with it? What would be the outcome of the conversation if you just let her say her peace and then distract her with something else that might interest her? Do you all have a good sense of humor and can somehow make some witty comments that will lighten the mood?

There is not an easy answer and I wish I had a magic wand for your Mom and all of our loved ones who have these same issues.

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