For many years my mom has met her girlfriends out for breakfast every morning. With COVID-19 and her dementia recently progressing, she has not been able to go out since before the pandemic. In a new development, my mom insists on going out for breakfast every day, but she asks to do this at 10 p.m., or as early as 5 a.m. She has no concept of time. How do I get my mom to understand that she can’t do many of the things that she used to do? -Jillian S.

None of us likes to be told what we can and can’t do. People living with dementia are no different. This activity is something that she identifies as being significant to her quality of life. If she can’t carry it out as she always has, my advice would be to try to find a new way to do it.  Maybe it happens twice a week, instead of daily. Maybe she gets a ride instead of walking. Would her girlfriends come to her? Treat it as the important event she feels that it is–using frequent reminders of when it’s coming and maybe even writing them down. Utilize a calendar and clock in a prominent place. Instead of being the “bad guy” who is telling her no, be the hero who helps her maintain this ritual in some form.

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