Advice please on repeated traumatic conversations

I am a part-time carer for my mother who has dementia. (I live with mum half the time and with my family half the time)

Every day, at least once but sometimes more frequently, she asks about my daughter.

Last year my daughter nearly died due a complex series of health issues, she is doing better now but is out of uni for a year while she deals with her health and catches up on what she missed.

I find these conversations increasingly stressful. daily recounting my daughter’s situation is very traumatic. Reliving her brush with death makes me tense and anxious.

I have tried avoiding or shutting down the conversation, but any attempt to gloss over the issue leads to mum asking more and more questions. Outright lying to mum (yes daughter is at uni and is fine) would lead to more confusion for my mum. Today I tried saying ’ I am really sorry but I dont want to talk about it’ and mum got upset and wouldnt talk to me at all (until she forgot why she was upset).

Obviously it isn’t mum’s fault. She simply cannot remember and is caring about her family. How can I be kind but also not have to have this conversation regularly?

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Very difficult. I had a similar situation with my Mum who had dementia. One son had nothing to do with her or us and she used to ask about him and I just had to keep saying “I don’t know Mum, I never see him.” and then I would change the subject.

After quite some time she did stop asking though.

Is your daughter well enough to visit her or facetime her?

The only other thing I can think of is getting one of those small photo albums and putting some pics of your daughter in there so she can look at them. Doesn’t matter if they’re not recent and if there are any of your Mum and daughter together that would be nice.

My Mum loved looking at photos and I also typed out lots of her memories and she got a lot of enjoyment from having them read to her.

Good luck!

Hi & welcome Uffy

So sorry you are having to constantly relive a stressful event.

Repetition in people with dementia - SCIE.

Hi there Uffy

I’m sorry you are being dragged back into a traumatic time. I don’t know much about dementia or where your mum is on the path but I do know that people with dementia can get fixated on certain things or certain aspects of events. Is there a particular part of that time that she keeps coming back to? Does she go back to that time as if it’s new to her or is she confused about specific points? It sounds like quite a complex event anyway but if you can perhaps identify her trigger for wanting to discuss it then you can develop a strategy for moving her on gently to something else (like the photo album idea from the previous poster). With my dad (not dementia as such, just cognitive issues and processing difficulties) we almost have to revert to how we would handle a toddler (which I hate saying but it’s a helpful analogy for me) in that we agree or accept responsibility to take the issue on or whatever, almost to release him from the burden, and then he is able to be distracted by something else for a short while. It’s a bit like learning a repetitive dance - they do their steps, we have our stock phrases ready to move them on to the next section, and then we circle back to the chorus again.

Wishing you well in finding the balance between being upset over going over the same trauma or upset at your mum being upset - it’s a tricky scale x