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I hear stories, I read articles, I hear tales from others...but until you see it for yourself in the actions of your own loved ones it doesn't hit home.

My Dad died at home at age 82 and over the last few months, he had dementia, probably caused by his lung cancer. We had moved his bedroom furniture down into the living room many months before so that he wouldn't have to climb stairs. During the last few weeks, he kept asking me why we had put in the garage. Every time he asked, I explained that he was in the dining room - see, you can look out the window, look into the living room etc. Some days he would ask me a dozen times and each time I would patiently explain.

Other times he would ask for matches or an ashtray and hold his hand out as though he had a cigarette in it. (He had stopped smoking only a few years before, after smoking for over 67 years.) He would get angry unless I offered him an ashtray. Only once did I tell him that he didn't have a cigarette in his hand and his reaction was so unnerving that I never said that again.

I wish I could tell you that it gets easier, nab, but it doesn't. You never know what it going to trigger an "exclamation" and you're never quite sure how to deal with it.

Just remember that she is not doing this deliberately. She can't control what she thinks. Try to be as patient as possible. As Phil said, try to maintain your sense of humor. Just don't let this cause you to stop seeing her, even if she doesn't remember when you were there last. I saw Dad almost every day and some days he would ask me why I hadn't been there for so long. It just about broke my heart.

Don't get angry or upset with her - it will only make things worse -- for both you and her.

As suggested, visit the Alzheimer's site as there is a lot of info available there about dementia.

My prayers and good wishes go out to your and your family and to your stepmom.

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