• We're currently experiencing technical issues with our newsletter software, so our Dementia Talking Point monthly updates have been put on hold for now. We hope to restart the newsletter soon.

    Find out more >here<.

Anyone had experience of both parents with AD arguing? At a loss as to how to help...


Registered User
Jun 2, 2014
Both my parents have AD and have been in a CH together since July. Their AD is at about the same stage - moderate - both been diagnosed about 2 years. My Mum also has significant physical difficulties and it was obvious, after my Dad was admitted to hospital with a UTI in June, that things weren't going well at home and they needed more support than a full home care package could give them.

They are settling in to the CH gradually. It's lovely - they have a very nice couples suite and the staff are great. They've been quite homesick and often insist they are going home 'tomorrow' but have good days when they enjoy themselves, love being closer to their grandchildren (they were 150 miles away prior to the CH move) and have very limited short term memory so generally think they've only arrived a couple of days ago. All is going OK and although I feel very guilty I am confident that they are in the right place and they wouldn't cope at home.

I've always been really comforted by the fact they are together and they've always supported each other very well and to the best of their abilities, but in the last week we've hit a new problem...

Their poor memories and gradually increasing confusion means that they've started to argue. Really quite heated arguments (only verbal, never physical) and it's really upsetting my Mum. And me tbh as it's happened a few times when I've been visiting. I am struggling to know how to deal with it. As are the CH staff - who tell me it is happening with increasing frequency. It's no-ones fault but because they are both confused they constantly contradict each other

eg. Dad "We used to live in Wales" Mum "We've never lived in Wales" Dad "We lived in Wales for 10 years" etc etc until my Mum gets upset
(They lived in Wales until July)


Dad "We are on a cruise ship" Mum "No we are no we are in a hospital" Dad "Don't be stupid we are on holiday" Mum "Don't call me stupid, we are definitely in a hospital" etc etc getting more heated until my Mum gets upset.

If I'm there when they are having an argument they will look to me to clarify who is right. And it generally upsets the person that I 'side with' (in their eyes - I'm trying not to side with anyone, just clarify for them, tell the truth and calm everything down)

So I've read the compassionate communication thread but I just don't know how to help the situation. When I'm not there I obviously can't stop them arguing. If there was one of them I would just go along with the delusion or thought process but when they have different views and it's getting more and more heated I don't know who to agree with. It's quite often that they are both wrong or confused. Do I just tell them the truth and upset both? Or agree with one of them so only one is upset? The last couple of visits have been so stressful trying to manage the situation that I've ended up only staying a short time and leaving

The CH staff have suggested that they try to get them to do things separately for a short period of the day but they can't get my parents to agree - they do want to be together. But hearing the argue and then get upset on an increasingly frequent basis is really hard.

Anyone else experienced this? Any ideas what I could do to diffuse the arguments when I'm visiting.

Sorry this is a really long post and a bit of a rant but finding this latest situation really difficult.


Registered User
Mar 4, 2013
Auckland...... New Zealand
Yes it's a tough one.
In a similar situation, but not, with my parents.
Mum has moderate AD & Dad has cognitive impairment.
Dad has always been an argumentative so and so, and with Mums Alzhimers there are still no exceptions. Mum always gave as good as she got, but now with her AD cannot see her way clear of course to argue her point, but now just contradicts what ever Dad says.
And sometimes Mum is totally in the right :D

Mum & Dad live in their own house behind me.
Apart from Mum having some kind of activity or outing go go to 4 days out of 7 to seperate them as much as possible, if they get into an argument and I am there I just shut the pair of them down.
In a sort of stern voice " Thats enough of that then" and then totally change the subject.
Works most of the time.

It is getting to the point though where I feel, not only because of Mums decline, is it fair on her staying at home with Dad, who neither understands or can cope with her Alzheimers. Compassionate communication is totally lost on him.


Registered User
Jan 25, 2015
Compassionate communication worked so well with my Mam but not my Dad at the beginning of this year. Since then Mam has passed away ,now compassionate communication works with Dad. I believe that my parents communication with each other was, as with your parents, untenable because of this dysfunctional disease. Even after sixty seven years of togetherness they had reached a point where their individual needs had to be met separately. I wonder whether, at this stage, this may be relevant? Love Rose x


Registered User
Jul 18, 2015
Surrey, UK
BessieB, I too have 2 parents-in-law, both with different types and degrees of advancement into their dementia journeys. Both still live at home, but with lots of support from family members and an external carer. Neither really understands that the other has the disease and how it affects them. Mum-in-law sometimes loses patience with Dad-in-law and shouts at him. He sits there all day and does nothing and can't understand why she can't run around after him.

There are no easy answers to this. Sometimes Mum-in-law can be distracted by an activity of some kind - getting the table ready for dinner is a favourite. Dad-in-law is relatively low maintenance - he is easily settled by watching sport on the TV. I think, sadly, it is entirely possible that they will have to be separated at some point in the future, as they have very different care needs and the safety of each of them individually has to be the most important consideration. So I don't have any answers, but I do feel for you and your predicament. It's good that your parents are in a care home, and I would hope the staff there could come up with some suggestions. I do hope you find a way to diffuse the arguments, or that the situation resolves itself soon.


Registered User
Jun 2, 2014
Thank you all. It isn't an easy one as I know that they are very reliant on each other - for some sort of stability and familiarity. Certainly when they were separated, when my Dad was in hospital, they didn't cope at all well and were desperate to be back together.
It has crossed my mind in the last few days however that there is just a possibility that in the future being together (certainly all of the time) might not be ideal.

The CH are really good and have a number of couples in their care. They seem to have seen this type of situation before and are aware of the issues - I am very grateful for their support. I think their suggestion of trying to get them to do separate activities for some of the day might be a good one. We just need to get them to agree to do it.
And I suppose I can hope that this 'phase' passes and they settle back to some sort of routine. It must be dreadfully confusing and difficult when your partner is telling you things that seem incorrect to you though. No idea how to help really and I suppose it is just part of this dreadful illness where nothing is ever ideal or easy .

Thanks again


Registered User
Jan 20, 2014
Both my parents had dementia but Dad died before Mum got bad. However there is a couple at her care home and they did two things. They sent him to an external day centre a couple of days a week to give his wife a break from being with him and eventually the difficulties were around sleeping together, because of the nature of the illness one or other of them was up half the night so eventually they had to have separate rooms. They were a totally devoted couple but when you think about it, not many non-dementia couples could cope with being around each other 24/7. So I think some separate activities is a starting point.
And just to say I feel for you. There is something terribly sad and poignant about seeing a loving couple both having to embark on this difficult journey together.


Registered User
Aug 15, 2015
I would think a combination of saying I didn't come to visit you to listen to this may make them stop if you are there. With my parents who both have it in different ways, if they argue I usually say now now children to them and they stop.

Maybe if one of them falls asleep in a chair the care home staff could persuade the other one to take part in something in another room perhaps.

My worst thing is my Dad confuses my Mum, and they try to explain the same thing to each other but neither can think of words needed. Drives me mad but weirdly funny.


Registered User
Jun 2, 2014
I see the same thing Mrsbusy....and it is quite funny at times, the constant talking at cross purposes. But I think because of the additional confusion the CH move has caused the talking at cross purposes has become arguing.
Adds to the guilt of the CH move to be honest...but there was very little choice and being logical I know that there were arguments due to the same reason when they were at home too. All part of the illness.

We do seem to be lurching from one issue to another. I'm looking for a stable situation where they can be safe and looked after and we can enjoy visiting them. But maybe AD doesn't allow for that really and I do find that very sad.


Registered User
Mar 17, 2005
Both my parents had dementia neither went into a Care Home bother died of different cancers and were in hospital for few days before passing on , mothers brother and sister had dementia dad died age 85 mum and brother & sister in 91,92 & 93 I was diagnosed with dementia 16 years ago and mothers brother daughter just died age 75 she had brain tumour and dementia but never got the diagnose so I reckon with six close blood family ties it possibly inherited