My parents — both in their early 90s — have lived with me for three years because they need care. We have maintained their home all this time, but they will never be able to return there. Although my parents are somewhat cognizant, both suffer with mild dementia and haven’t been back to their house for nearly two years. We have enlisted the help of an auctioneer and are planning to sell their house and much of the belongings and furniture. Our dilemma is whether or not to tell them. I’m not sure whether it’s kinder to let them believe things are as they have been or tell them differently.
From New Haven, Connecticut
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You said your parents have a mild form of dementia. But because it’s going to get worse, use their growing loss of history to your advantage in regards to their house. As their memory gets increasingly fuzzier, focus on more recent history, and then start going backwards. Tell them they lost their house due the “recent” Stock Crash of 1929, and they should be grateful that you invested well in the Wright Brothers Corporation. Or you can tell them that the year is 1692, their home is in Salem, Massachusetts, and if you mother goes outside, she risks being falsely accused and later burned at the stake. As their dementia progresses, go back further in time, and tell them that is dangerous to go outside, since the city no longer has leash laws in regards to walking a T-Rex. And if that isn’t going back far enough, have someone with a really deep voice and a megaphone shouts outside your front door early in the morning and say, “Let there be light!” Hearing that might startle them so much, that they both might simultaneously have a heart attack, and be immediately standing before the person the guy with the megaphone was mimicking. And whether God presses the “up” or “down” button on the elevator after judging them, they won’t be bringing up the house anymore. I hope this helps.