Dad with Alzheimer's, Mum with no sympathy


Registered User
May 26, 2008
My Dad (aged 81) was diagnosed in May following months of appointments with Doctors and specialists who couldn't have been more helpful.

He's just started on Aricept - no improvement yet. My mother (aged 72) is driving me round the bend at the moment though as she doesn't seem to have changed her attitude towards my Dad one bit.

She never makes allowances for his confusions, she snaps at him, she doesn't seem capable of showing him any kindness. It's almost as though she's in denial. I think her way of dealing with him is detrimental though, yet every time I raise the subject with her she snaps at me and tells me that she is at breaking point.

I fear that if her attitude doesn't change, both her and my Dad will be in a very sorry situation.

Has anyone any ideas? I've tried to get her to read leaflets on the disease, I've asked her to call the helpline - she says "what for?" She's just not the type of person that responds well to comforting. It's making me so upset as Dad is so much calmer when he's not around her.


Registered User
Apr 16, 2008
Devon, England
Hi Clarison
So sorry to hear about your dad and mum. It must be so upsetting for you (and dad) that your mum is so unsympathetic. As you say, perhaps she's in denial, or maybe she's just very scared about what the future may hold but doesn't know how to express that appropriately. Or perhaps she just wants a bit of attention herself if your dad has been in the 'limelight' with all his appointments lately.
If she doesn't want to contact the helpline and feels she's at 'breaking point' would she perhaps take more notice of her doctor? Could she be persuaded to visit her GP to address 'her problems' (then perhaps the GP would be able to get the message across to her as to why her husband is behaving the way he is and how changing her attitude might help him)? Some people seem to respond better to 'authority' figures than family.
Just a few thoughts off the top of my head as I haven't had the same experience as you, and obviously have no idea what your parents relationship was like before your dad became ill.
Keep posting and let us know how you get on and I'm sure others will come on with much better ideas than mine.


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Hi Clarison, welcvome to TP.

I think Chris may well be right, and your mum is scared, and fearful of the future.

She's not as old as your dad, and is presumably quite active. She sees her life changing, and knows she can do nothing about it. She may be blaming your dad.

It's a good idea to try to persuade her to see her doc, but I think you should also see about getting her into a support group, where she'd have the opportunity to talk about her feelings.

Try ringing your local branch of Alzheimer's Society, and princess Royal Trust for Carers. They both run support groups, and also will send someone to the house to offer support.

I agree with you that it's not good for your dad for your mum to refuse to accept his illness, and I hope you can find some help for her.

Let us know how you get on.


Registered User
May 26, 2008
thank you

Thank you Chris,

That sounds like a very good idea actually. I have to go to the doctor with her this week anyway for some health problems of her own.

I think you may well have nailed the problem. I will let you know how I get on. Perhaps the Doctor would be able to chat to her about how she could deal with things better, although the Mental Health Doctor that diagnosed his Alzheimer's already did this and she listens and then just ignores.

Thanks again. I'll see how we get on.


Registered User
Jan 1, 2007
Newcastle upon Tyne
Hi Clarison,
I really sympathise - I was in your position a while back. Dad was diagnosed three years ago, Mum found it hard to understand and cope. However their relationship wasn't great to start with so it was never going to be afterwards. As it turned out, Mum had her own AD problems which has made it impossible to care for Dad in his later stages - I'm not suggesting this is the case with your Mum but I can understand she would be frightened and try to pretend it's not happening. Maybe if I was 72 and having to cope with this I would be the same.

Dad's now in a Care Home and Mum lives alone - she is very afraid whenever he is mentioned - she is terrified in case "they" send him home. She tries her best to shut him out of her mind. I used to be very cross by Mum's attitude to Dad and the fact that she didn't really care for him - until I realised the severity of her own problems (which I initially put down to stress).

Don't know if this has been any help but it is a different perspective.


Registered User
May 26, 2008

thank you also. My Mum and Dad are both VERY shy and reserved people. There is absolutely NO WAY I could EVER see my Mum going to a support group. I will try to speak to her one and only friend though to see if she can offer some support.

Dad was offered a place at a respite centre, but he refused to go. They were never a very sociable couple, and have become more introverted as the years have gone by.

Mum has her own health worries and is not very active at all. Neither her or my Dad have a social life. There's a lesson for us all there! I think you may be right in thinking that she blames my Dad in a way and fears for the future. He's had to stop driving, so I guess that their independence has been taken away slightly. I am trying to encourage them to be as independent as possible i.e. using their Freedom Pass and local taxis.

I'll let you know how I get on and thanks in the meantime.



Registered User
Feb 13, 2008
HI there and welcome to TP

Perhaps it could be possible for you to print off what we all reply to you and let you mum read them at some point, I'm not suggesting straight away, but when the time is right so that she can see for herself what effect its having on you and also the concerns you are raising.
If they are both shy and don't have many close friends then you really have a lot on your plate because they will come to rely more and more on you.
I didn't want to go along to a meeting myself (I look after both mum and dad) however, the support I have received to date (and I've only gone to 3 so far) is immense. So, even if your mum won't attend a meeting I recommend that you go along to one yourself because the support you will receive and the encouragement you will get may just be what you need to then try to get mum to come along with you at some stage.
Sorry I can't be of more help but I do strongly recommend that you speak to your mum and dads GP to air your worries to them. You will find a lot of help out there by opening up to your GP.
Love Andrea

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hello Clarison

You have had good advice so far, especially from Andrea who suggests you get as much support as is available to you.

There will be suggestions from the support groups for ways your parents may be helped.

If your parents are as shy as you say, your mother will probably be terrified of what lies in store for them.

And make the most of the coming visit to the doctor.

As your mother finds it so difficult to ask for help and accept it, there`s nothing to stop you trying to find out what`s available. The diagnosis is new and frightening, your mother may still be in shock.

Keep posting on Talking Point [TP] This will become one of your best support groups.

Love xx


Registered User
May 26, 2008
Thanks all of you.

There are some really good suggestions here. I took Mum to her GP today and he has prescribed antibiotics for a UTI. I hope this may clear up her recent confusion. Although she didn't want me to bring up the subject with him, I did tell him that she was tearful and finding it hard to cope. He reassured her that this was completely normal and discussed how she should react to my Dad (i.e. with kindness and sympathy). It may make a difference to her if she hears it from a health professional. He also discussed the possibility of counselling.

I also took her out to see her friend today, although she was anxious about Dad's welfare while we were out! Can't live with, can't live without.

Mum's friend is very worried about the two of them as well.

I spoke to Dad today about the possibility of visiting a respite centre and he said he may think about it if I go with him first.

My brother (who lives abroad) will be coming on Friday which may take the pressure off me a little, but I will definitely look out some local support groups to attend myself. I already have a couple of good friends that have had parents with Alzheimer's and have been through a similar situation with my father in law who suffers from Vascular Dementia and is now living in a home. My mother in law still struggles with her own emotions 8 months on.

Thanks again and keep up the good work with this support network. It's invaluable.

C x


Registered User
Mar 6, 2007
Wigan, Lancs
Dear Clarison,

I could have written your first post! My Dad (83) was diagnosed in December 06 and my Mum (77) has been angry, snappy, in denial, all the things you say about your mum.

She refuses to look at any support groups for herself. In her view what use would it be to her to hear other people's woes? :mad:

It has taken some months for her to accept that my Dad is not being like he is on purpose, but that it is the illness that makes him the way he is. I have printed fact sheets off the AS web site for her, threads on TP, leaflets from the NHS. Is she interested? Is she heck.

So I do know what you are going through. I'm afraid I'm rather blunt with her and often get cross with her for having a 'go' at my Dad. He can't help the way he is, she can. I also try to point out to her if she were kinder to my Dad she would get a better response from him and life would be so much easier for her. If he does put his raspberries in the bowl before the strawberries, it is not important in the great scheme of things and shouting at him really doesn't help.

She had started to chill and be a bit kinder to him and this has improved relations a lttle. My Dad is in hospital at the moment with an infection. Today she was anxiously waiting at the end of the drive for me to pick her up and take her to visit him, but didn't really have a kind word to say to him when we got there!

Not much help I know. I hope you get some much needed support from your brother when he comes home.


Registered User
Mar 15, 2008
Barton upon Humber
Had and went through the same frustrations with my mum when my step-father diagnosed with AD showing no sympathy or understanding towards his illness. GP and the CPN told me mum showing all the symptoms of frustration and denial and hard for her to take in and adjust to my step-father's medical condition, someone who always had been there and done everything for her.

Eventually mum came to terms with my step-father's dementia, by then though his illness had taken over and realised no point in being snappy and frustrated any more with him. At this point mum also started show signs of dementia and I ended caring for the two.

Step-father went into a care home last year with mum staying at home for me to care for. Mum understands where step-father at, in a care and only talks now about him with fondness and love.

Hardest thing for me, having to deal with the break-up of two loving parents but the consolation have, mum has no bitterness towards my step-dad where she once did have for a while, in the early days and stages when diagnosed having Alzheimier's.