Understanding Recognition Challenges Why My Mother with Dementia Doesn’t Recognize Her Daughter

Dementia affects not only the person diagnosed but also their family and loved ones.

As the disease progresses, it can bring about some peculiar scenarios, such as a parent forgetting their own child. Such a situation can be emotionally challenging, leading to feelings of loss and confusion.

This video seeks to shed light on a particular case in which a mother-in-law with dementia cannot recognize her daughter, despite frequent visits and strong bonds of love.

Deciphering The Intricacies Of The Mind:

Our brain is a remarkably complex organ, with numerous possibilities for change and adaptation, particularly when affected by dementia. In our situation, several factors may contribute to this lack of recognition.

Age-Related Misidentification:

Firstly, the issue might stem from your mother-in-law's mental perception of her daughter. In her mind, your wife might still be the five or ten-year-old girl she once was, making it difficult for her to reconcile that image with the grown woman she meets.

Yet, the evidence lies in the interactions - her happiness and contentment around your wife indicate an underlying recognition, even if she can't verbalize it.

Building Relationships In Unusual Ways:

Another observation is the ongoing communication in her hallucinations. Even though this might seem distressing, these hallucinations might represent her way of preserving that mother-daughter bond.

If these hallucinations are not causing distress or harm to your mother-in-law, it might be best to allow them to continue as part of her reality.

Medical Factors:

Lastly, certain medical conditions, such as face blindness, could be contributing to the situation.

This condition, which impairs a person's ability to recognize faces, can occur in individuals who have experienced head injuries or, in some cases, dementia.

Recognition Challenges

Fostering Connections:

To nurture this connection further, encourage your wife to continue visiting her mom as frequently as she can.

Although the verbal acknowledgment might not be there, emotional recognition appears to be present, and this connection can be incredibly soothing for a person with dementia.


These scenarios are indeed challenging, but understanding the nuances can help us cope better.

We must remind ourselves that even in the absence of expressed recognition, love and emotional bonds persist in mysterious ways.

If you enjoyed this post and would like more insights into the world of dementia, consider subscribing to our YouTube channel, Think Different Dementia, for more useful content.

May you continue to find strength and patience in your caregiving journey.

For more insights and information, please subscribe to my YouTube channel, Think Different Dementia. Stay blessed and continue to make a difference in your loved one's life.

Remember to always consult a healthcare professional for any questions or concerns you may have about your loved one's health.

Read more: Talking About Caregiver Burnout With Michelle Gordon

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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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