For the past several weeks, my mother who is 90 and experiencing dementia, has been convinced that our entire town is burning down. She's not in a panic about it. She acts much more matter of fact, but every car she sees is "leaving town", she asks me if I will rebuild, what the animals will do, how bodies will be identified, etc. we try to distract but she persists. What should we do? How do we handle this when she brings it up? She doesn't remember of course if we tell her all is fine. Help?


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Hi, thanks for writing in! If it doesn’t bother her, embrace that reality! Sure, you’ll rebuild! The animals will be okay, they’re very good at adapting! Yep, that car is leaving down! Assure her that you’ll be safe.

Follow up is this: is she SEEING fire or is she just fixated that it’s coming? If she’s seeing fire and doesn’t normally hallucinate, she may have a UTI or other issue going on.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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