Do I keep correcting her on this one?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by janey106, Dec 13, 2015.

  1. janey106

    janey106 Registered User

    Dec 10, 2013
    139
    Haven't been on the Forum for a couple of months but been reading and learning from others but I am struggling not to keep challenging Mum on one thing ....nearly everything else I follow the acknowledge/empathise/distract route. About 3 months ago Mum started mistaking Dad (her husband of 54 years) for her own Dad (who dies 27 years ago). They do have some similarities visually to be fair but some very clear differences e.g, her husband has a false eye). Until about two weeks ago Mum trusted me when I reassured her it was Dad but now she tells me I am wrong, it is her Dad. Dad has had to move into the spare room 'because she will not share a bed with her Dad', keeps telling him it's time he went home ( to her childhood address), won't buy food he likes/wants 'because he doesn't contribute financially' (Dad pays everything) and is generally treating him like an unwelcome houseguest. I keep challenging Mum on this as she also has started ringing us (me and Sister) at all hours of day and night upset that Dad hasn't come home, has he been in a car accident etc. I guess I don't want Mum to lose her husband and Dad to lose his wife. Should we just be accepting it or are there any ideas to help her remember? Thought about making her a book with up to date photos of us all and even a list of those people who have passed away but the latter feels quite cruel.
    In the meantime Dad 's health/mobility deteriorating and he is exhausted. apart from accepting a 'housekeeper' coming in 3 hours a week, (and that has been a major breakthrough), can't get them to consider any other options. Love them both to bits but just horrible watching them resenting each other, not speaking, not living.
     
  2. LadyA

    LadyA Registered User

    Oct 19, 2009
    13,540
    Ireland
    Sometimes, people with dementia have no concept of time (as in decades of time) passing, or age - their own age. My husband was 84 when he died, but I remember on his 83rd birthday when I explained to him that it was his birthday, and how old he was now - that he was now 83 years old - he roared laughing and said "Don't be ridiculous!":D Several years before he died, as he started to "lose" his children (I was his second wife, his first having died in 1990, so he had adult children already when we married), I made a memory book for him, with photos of his children, showing each child through their childhood to adulthood, and then with their own children, to try and help orient William to who they are now. It helped for a while. And sometimes he would recognise them, and sometimes not. Weirdly, he would know his favourite grandson, but not his daughters.

    The best I could suggest is lots of photos of your parents' married life through the years, and you and your dad go through them with your mum regularly. And definitely talk to the doctors about this. But if, as you say, there are similarities between your dad and late grandfather, then you really are up against it!
     
  3. sleepless

    sleepless Registered User

    Feb 19, 2010
    3,223
    Female
    The Sweet North
    I am so sorry you and your parents are going through this, Janey. We had exactly this with my Mum (she died in 2004, and had vascular dementia.) The problem with her seeing my Dad as her Dad was the worst manifestation of her illness, and was very difficult to handle, especially as my Dad could not grasp that using logic would not work, or showing her photos of her Dad etc. Distraction didn't help in this situation either.
    Sometimes it helped if Dad left the room for a while, then came in again, but I am sorry to say that it was a problem until Mum went into a care home.
    Like your parents, Mum and Dad had to have seperate bedrooms because of this mistaking her husband for her father. She would not let him help her with bathing etc when she believed he was her father, and would shout at him to go home to mother, as she would be wondering where he was. She would want to know why he had come to visit her in his slippers, she really was convinced he was her father and wanted him to leave. It was the cruellest thing to witness after over 50 years of marriage.
    Mum didn't get the promised care package, which would have helped the situation on so many levels. She went into a care home.
    I would try your best to get some outside help accepted by them, as it will give your father some relief from the stress of this awful situation.
    You have my heartfelt sympathy, and I hope that this is a phase with your Mum, and will pass.
    Have you asked for medication to help at all?
     
  4. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    7,592
    Yorkshire
    Just a random thought. Please ignore if unhelpful :)

    Do you always refer to him as 'Dad' in her presence? I wonder if that is reinforcing her belief. Would calling him by his forename instead possibly help? I ended up calling my mum by her first name as, even early on, she found familial relationships totally confusing.
     
  5. sleepless

    sleepless Registered User

    Feb 19, 2010
    3,223
    Female
    The Sweet North
    This is a very good point, but depends on knowing where the person with dementia is at a particular time.
    When we did this, it backfired on us a few times, as then she couldn't understand why I was calling my dad by his Christian name, and this added to the confusion.
    I wish I had known then what I know now, but it's all been learned by trial and error with my OH, and now Dad, and so much gleaned from TP.
    When Mum was really bad, there was nowhere to turn for experienced hands-on advice.
    It never crossed our minds to 'go along with it' as I suppose we thought this would reinforce her delusion, but with the benefit of hindsight and because she did switch in and out of it, this may have worked at least some of the time, and you might consider doing this, Janey.
     
  6. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    8,088
    Yorkshire
    Hi janey106
    I too wonder whether Chemmy and sleepless have made a good point
    I now always say something like 'Hi dad, it's me shedrech' whenever I enter the room he's in, even if I've only been out a few minutes, just to help him orientate to our relationship and my name - and I say it before he can see me, so that he hears the familiar (I hope) voice before he sees me - I'm thinking that voices stay more the same over the years than how we look (even so he's started doing a bit of a double take when he sees me, as though I don't quite look how he'd expected - I guess his child doesn't have grey streaks and a few wrinkles and age spots!)
    It felt a bit false as first to do this - but now is just what I do
    Does your dad have a favourite pet name for his wife, or an endearment he uses - something her father would not ever have said to her - so he could say 'Hi (name), sweetheart' or some such ?
    and if you don't want to use your father's name, maybe invent or use an endearment instead - so he's 'me duck' or 'love' as in 'Hello love, you look happy today' ...
    May help - may not :)
     
  7. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    7,592
    Yorkshire
    I was given that advice very early on by an old school friend who was a district nurse. :)
     
  8. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    8,088
    Yorkshire
    Hi Chemmy - then you're probably my source - MANY THANKS :D
     
  9. janey106

    janey106 Registered User

    Dec 10, 2013
    139
    Thank you LadyA, it's definitely on the list to talk to the Consultant about on 4 January. I have made them a couple of photo books in recent years including a golden wedding book with all their life history and hundreds of photos but Mum won't look at it beyond the first few Oates (wondering if it is because her own memories start to conflict with what she sees). But had a chat with family this afternoon and we are going to take loads of photos this Xmas of Mum with Dad, us, grandchildren, her sister etc and clearly label and name them all with a timeline at the beginning of the book. Thank you for your help.
     
  10. janey106

    janey106 Registered User

    Dec 10, 2013
    139
    Really appreciate you sharing this Sleepless. It is just so cruel isn't it? Managed to get some time with Dad on his own this morning as Mum rarely up before 11.30 am and he is so emotional. Feels desperately guilty he can't 'manage it any better' ( he can't see how incredible he is being) then burst into tears as the grief of 'losing his wife' is hitting him. He has agreed we need to make some significant changes but Xmas last year was such a terrible time for us all (different thread about Mums anger and aggression) we agreed to postpone it unti January and try and have a good (as can be) Xmas this year. Put up their Xmas tree thus afternoon and house decorations to try and lift their spirits. Will be talking about meds with Consultant on 4 January. Thank you again.
     
  11. janey106

    janey106 Registered User

    Dec 10, 2013
    139
    Good thought Chemmy, Will try calling him by first name when Mum around and see if that helps. It is strange that she is pretty clear about the names and ages of everyone else so maybe we need to just focus on his first name and see what response it gets.
     
  12. janey106

    janey106 Registered User

    Dec 10, 2013
    139
    Hi Shedrech, we have tried to come up with unique names but not really found anything. I mentioned in another post that Dad has a false eye so that is a unique reference point for confirming it is her husband and not her Dad, that her Dad didn't drive (ours does) and that her Dad could not have afforded the home and life that they have ( sorry bit materialistic but so is Mum). When he tries to ground her in things they have done in the past she gets cross 'that her Dad uis talking to her like this.' We will keep trying to be inventive though!
     
  13. SisterAct

    SisterAct Registered User

    It's ironic but we had to 'forget' who we were and become who they think you are. It is heartbreaking and a hard thing to do at times but with Dad (vascular dementia) it made life a lot easier.

    I have been me;- my Mum, his Mum, his brother Tommy.
    My sister was;- herself (but not for long), a carer, his brother Arthur.
    Our youngest grandson was the dog!

    We could nearly always tell by the names Dad called us where he was in his world and 'act the part' We were lucky that Dad had an affectionate nickname that we all used at one time or another so we used that to avoid him getting annoyed with us for 'impersonating' members of his family! It worked most of the time! We should have had an Oscar for our acting at times.

    Luv
    Polly xx
     

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