How do I respond to my 82-year-old mom who thinks she has young children? Sometimes we have to go look for them and other times she wants to purchase clothing.

There is no simple answer for dealing with a loved one who is hallucinating or having delusions. Please reassure your Mom that she is safe and you are there with her. To keep from arguing, instead of telling her she doesn’t have young children, you may choose to distract her or tell her you haven’t met her young children or don’t see them. If she gets upset, you may want to consult with her physician to find the best course of action geared specifically for her. If you can distract her by walking into another room or bringing up another topic, that may help alleviate some symptoms. Check with her doctor as well to make sure her delusions are not being caused by an infection. If you are able to play along, ask her about her children and let her tell you stories. You can also choose to humor her by purchasing clothes, keep the receipt and take them back. Or talk to the sales clerk and just not actually purchase anything, depending on how observant your Mom would be leaving the store without the items she was wanting to buy. It can be frustrating to have your Mom insist she has young children, but a sense of humor can go along way in making this all much easier for everyone involved.

4 thoughts on “How do I respond to my 82-year-old mom who thinks she has young children?

  • Lois Adams

    Mother was in a nursing home and they would bring in animals to visit the residents. She did not like animals so I bought her a moving, sucking, crying, laughing real life doll. She loved the doll. I was wondering if a doll might be of some consolation to your mom?

  • Jenica Anagnostou

    Is you mother in her own home, perhaps fixing up a closet with some children clothing from a second hand store could satisfy her urge to buy her children new clothing. As far as being worried about them, I think distracting her by reminiscing is a appropriate approach. It provides her with dignity and good memories of her children. You are one of them so you could ask leading questions to assist her if she has gaps in memory. Does she have small grandchildren, nieces or nephews who could visit, have them come over to the house. Or maybe visit a park, preschool.

  • Janet Cobb

    I was a caregiver for a 97-year old woman who wanted to walk to the corner every day to meet her children as they came home from school. She had no memories of her life past her mid 20’s. To her, their children were still in school, not their actual ages. The children of the neighborhood would come up to her, asking if they could play awhile with the other children. She would always smile and say “yes, but be home in time for supper.” We would walk back to the house and she would be fine until time to go meet the “kids” the next day.

  • Amy Shaughnessy

    My mother is recovering from a broken hip and is unable to walk yet, but insists that she walks all day and wants to get out of bed. We have to have caregivers with her to keep her from falling out of bed as she tries to get up. I think it is important in her case to let her know that her dreams are not real – I can’t have her thinking she can get out of bed in het own when she can’t stand and it would be dangerous.

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