Mum doesn’t understand the circumstances of the lockdown

My Mum (56) suffers from dementia and hasn’t understood the restrictions regarding the lockdown. One of the symptoms of her dementia is extreme restlessness to the point where she would (under normal circumstances) want to go out to various locations (the supermarket, the high street, on the train to town etc) up to 5 times a day as she is obsessed with wandering around shops buying nick nacks. We have tried countless times to explain to her that we are in lockdown, the shops are shut etc, but it never registers. Now we are on lockdown number 3 and I really am getting to the end of my tether with it. I can only explain so many times a day before I lose my temper with her and her constant pestering wanting to go out. I make her watch the news hoping that will get the message through but I don’t think she really understands what is being said. I don’t know what else I can do to make her realise the severity of the situation and her individual vulnerability to the virus. I get angrier and angrier by the day and I know we are in for several more weeks of this and I know it’s not fair for me to lose my temper with her as she cannot help it but I don’t know how to relive the situation.

Hello Ellie
Am sorry to hear your mum has dementia, young too.
My lovely husband had vascular dementia, other health issues as well. On the days he was fidgety to go somewhere, I would try to distract. Let’s have a cup of tea, and biscuits, watch TV for a bit, as the place isn’t open yet, and so on. Have you tried distraction tactics? I understand how hard and frustrating it is for you. If you feel your anger rising, walk out of the room for a few minutes if you can. The couple of times I lost it with hubby, hurt me more than him, as it went out of his thoughts.

Hi Ellie, I’m sad to hear about your mum suffering from dementia. Do the doctors know why your mum got dementia while in her50’s. ? (I hope you don’t mind me asking).
It must be incredibly difficult helping her through these challenging times. Are there any board games she could play? Even if it’s just sorting out the items in the box.

Thank you for your responses. She has frontal temporal dementia and was only diagnosed in October so doctors are still investigating, looking for a second opinion etc. However she had a stroke in 2016 and her family has a history of MND (both her mother and maternal uncle suffered from it), so those are possible explanations the doctors are exploring. From suggestions from community nurses and consultants we’ve been trying to distract her with other activities such as puzzles, arts and crafts and so on but her attention span with that is very short and before long we get “can I go to the shops”. I’m wondering if we asked someone she views as an authority figure such as a doctor to explain why she can’t go out whether that may register instead. It feels as though we have the conversation with her and then it just slips out of her head and 10 minutes later we’re on the topic again. I had to keep my distance from her as much as possible on Saturday as it was just one of those days where I felt as though as I was going to shout every time I opened my mouth. And I agree, it affects me far more than it affects her, she doesn’t pick up those social cues so she doesn’t really register when someone is annoyed.

Worth a try asking someone in authority to explain to your mum. However, if it’s not registering when you explain, I’m wondering if it will with a doctor?
Do you have any support, so you can have me time? It’s very important that you do. Helps when things get tough.
Think you may have to keep bluffing, saying the shops are closed. I always called these bluffs kind lies.

Ellie, I don’t know if this will help, but you could try a social story. Social stories are usually used with those with autism and/or a learning disability, but might help your Mum too.

You can have simple text on each page and a picture (drawn/ from the internet / photos).

Something like:

_Lots of people are poorly with coronavirus.

It is lockdown again and the Prime Minister says we must stay home.

I can’t go to the shops because the shops are closed.

I can go for a walk to ___.

At home I can …

The Prime Minister will say when its safe for the shops to open again.

When the shops open I can go shopping again.

If you read with her regularly, you will be using the same consistent words and with repetition she may well begin to remember it better. You can blame it all on the PM - which is what I do with S.


PS there are lots of visual resources online - but they do tend to be aimed at children. Mencap might have some aimed at adults that you could adapt.