Dad talks to strangers differently

Candice Marie

New member
Feb 1, 2024
7
0
My dad has Lewy Body Dementia. I have noticed, and find it quite upsetting, that my dad will be 'off' with me - not looking at me when I talk to him; talking as if he's annoyed with me; non responsive in conversations (unless we talk about his childhood or something that interests him); refusing point blank to do anything, but not explaining why he won't do something, just saying, "I just don't want to."

However, when someone visits the house from outside (a workman for example) or Dad has a medical appointment and interacts with a health worker, or talks to his nephews on the 'phone, even if we go to a cafe and Dad speaks to the waiter, he will maintain eye contact, crack a joke, his voice will be stronger and he will prolong the conversation. I just don't understand why he doesn't show the same enthusiasm when speaking to me, my husband and my mum (his wife).

My mum does tend to criticise Dad, but I never do and I always tend to defend him. I haven't confronted him either or told him how upset his lack of effort makes me because I don't want to hurt his feelings. I put everything down to it being his condition, but I don't know whether this is to be expected in someone who has dementia. Have other people come across this behaviour? Sometimes it's downright rude! I know he loves me, but he's like a completely different, sociable, man when he's talking to other people. Any insights?
 

sue31

Registered User
Oct 2, 2023
189
0
Medway
My dad has Lewy Body Dementia. I have noticed, and find it quite upsetting, that my dad will be 'off' with me - not looking at me when I talk to him; talking as if he's annoyed with me; non responsive in conversations (unless we talk about his childhood or something that interests him); refusing point blank to do anything, but not explaining why he won't do something, just saying, "I just don't want to."

However, when someone visits the house from outside (a workman for example) or Dad has a medical appointment and interacts with a health worker, or talks to his nephews on the 'phone, even if we go to a cafe and Dad speaks to the waiter, he will maintain eye contact, crack a joke, his voice will be stronger and he will prolong the conversation. I just don't understand why he doesn't show the same enthusiasm when speaking to me, my husband and my mum (his wife).

My mum does tend to criticise Dad, but I never do and I always tend to defend him. I haven't confronted him either or told him how upset his lack of effort makes me because I don't want to hurt his feelings. I put everything down to it being his condition, but I don't know whether this is to be expected in someone who has dementia. Have other people come across this behaviour? Sometimes it's downright rude! I know he loves me, but he's like a completely different, sociable, man when he's talking to other people. Any insights?
Mum was the same with me, but she could cover & make out she was ‘fine ‘ with people that didn’t know her well.
As it progressed she became like it with everyone. Maybe they are scared of showing us how vulnerable they have become - mum was a very determined independent lady.
I know they don’t actually realise they are doing this & it hurts us, it’s their way of denial & defence.
 

Angel03

Registered User
Mar 26, 2024
12
0
I've noticed this myself. My grandmother talks to her friends, district nurses, doctors etc as if she's fine. I think it's why dementia went un-diagnosed for some time. While I noticed her memory loss and her not paying attention during conversations to everyone else she seemed fine. People would often say to me "she's still sharp for her age, isn't she?". Thankfully she's still friendly towards me but I can see her becoming more withdrawn day by day whereas with other people she makes an effort.
 

Collywobbles

Registered User
Feb 27, 2018
288
0
My Mum is the same. At least now, if the people she’s speaking to stick around for more than a few minutes, she starts repeating herself as she has pretty much no short-term memory now. But before that started, you’d have needed to know her well in order to spot anything “off”.
 

Candice Marie

New member
Feb 1, 2024
7
0
Thank you everyone for your responses. I hadn't heard of this host behaviour. I think perhaps his behaviour also stems from going on the defensive and a vulnerability - a whole gamut of reasons really. My poor dad. In some ways our relationship has improved immensely over the last few years - when lockdown started and Dad wasn't so bad I started ringing my parents every day and chatting for a long time with Dad - something I'd never done before. Now it's more difficult to talk to him about the things that used to interest him, but sometimes I can still spark a good conversation with him. We look at Facebook together at the history of our local town and we're often coming across stuff he remembers (he has a very good memory of distant events). The past is where he likes to escape to and I'm happy to do that too. I will just persevere with him. It has helped to get all your insights though. Thank you.