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How can my dad not argue when my mother says something that is not true?

Pumpkin Pie 2020

New member
Jan 14, 2021
We just found out my 82 year old mother has vascular dementia. She had been recovering from an aortic dissection followed by open heart surgery in November 2018, and she's had strokes at some point in the timeline. She had been physically fit as a fiddle prior to the aortic dissection and would have fully recovered had it not been for the stroke(s). The stroke(s) prevented her from regaining all of her mobility. She's good with a walker but no good with a cane. She can no longer drive. She has struggled with chronic severe depression for about 30 years. Following a UTI which put her in the emergency room on New Year's Eve, the doctor said she COULD NOT GO HOME because she was a danger to herself. He said she HAD TO go to memory care.

My parents had promised each other they'd never put the other in any sort of nursing home. My dad is incredibly distraught. He hasn't been able to see my mom since she went into Memory Care on January 6, because she is in quarantine for two weeks due to COVID. When he called her the other day, she said she wanted a divorce (they've been married for 55 years), and she accused him of putting her in Memory Care.

I've read you shouldn't argue with a person who has dementia. How can my dad not argue when she's saying he put her in Memory Care when he didn't? The doctor put her in Memory Care. (Also, what I say to my dad to comfort him about my mom telling him she wants a divorce?)

Thanks for your help. I am brand new to this forum.


Volunteer Host
Apr 1, 2016
Your dad needs to stick to the truth that the doctor insists that your mum stays in memory care on this occasion @Pumpkin Pie 2020 but he doesn’t have to tell her it’s permanent (even if it is) just “until the doctor says she’s well enough to come home”. If she believes your dad is on her side and waiting for her to get better and come home to him she might not want a divorce.

I found this useful

Has your mum recovered from her UTI? I know they can have a very bad affect on people with dementia.


Registered User
May 21, 2018
Hello @Pumpkin Pie 2020 . I'm sorry to hear about the problems your mum has had. My mum also has vascular dementia and has now been in a care home for several years. I agree with @Bunpoots that your Dad should "blame" the doctor for your mum being in the care home, so that he is not seen as the bad guy. The term "Convalescent home" might be more readily accepted by your mum.

We have found that regular reviews of medication have helped a great deal for my mum, who can be extremely aggressive and agitated. Is your mum on medication for depression/anxiety?

The staff should be on the alert for urine infections, which are not always cleared up first time, so it is worth checking that your mum's infection is definitely gone. As already mentioned, they have a terrible effect on dementia. A preventative antibiotic can be useful if they return frequently.

Your mum will need time to settle. I hope that, with the right medication and experienced staff, she will become less aggressive and life will be easier for you all.

Many of us here have broken our promise about care homes and it can be a very difficult time, so keep posting for advice and support. There are lots of us out here to help you along and lots of success stories too.

Pumpkin Pie 2020

New member
Jan 14, 2021
Thank you for your replies. None of us (my two sisters and my dad) believe that my mom seriously wants a divorce, but it hurts to hear her say that nonetheless. I will read the threat you recommended @Bunpoots. (What does that name mean, BTW?) (Edit: Actually, I had already read the initial post in that thread.) In theory, she's all recovered from her UTI. She was in the hospital for six days before being moved to Memory Care. I wonder if dementia patients are regularly checked for UTIs or if they have to be demonstrating "erratic" behavior? I wonder how you know if behavior is "erratic" or simply dementia-related? @lemonbalm, we can't sugarcoat the term "Memory Care" for my mom. She would definitely perceive that as being lied to. She appreciates honesty even if it hurts. She has been on medication for depression/anxiety, but nothing has ever worked very well. A friend in the field of Memory Care pointed out that some depression/anxiety meds that work well in people with intact brains don't necessarily work well in damaged brains. That said, my mom is on a new depression/anxiety med that takes four weeks to have full effect, so we'll see what happens. Yes, I think she is getting used to the scene. Last night, she told me that she had them open her drape so that she can watch the reflection of the activity outside her room in her window. She noticed that when she refused to take her meds for one nurse, she went out and gave the meds to another nurse. When the second nurse asked her to take her meds, she complied. She said, "They're watching me, and I'm watching them." Thanks again for your help. I will probably be posting again. (Can I keep going in this thread with a new topic so as to not have to start all over with the background? My new question would be, "How often should my dad visit after the two week quarantine, and how long should he stay each time?" I suppose people will answer, "It depends ...")


Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
South coast
My new question would be, "How often should my dad visit after the two week quarantine, and how long should he stay each time?" I suppose people will answer, "It depends ...")
Well, yes, it does depend, but I would aim for short and sweet. Mum started getting tired after about an hour, so try that to start with, but be prepared to cut it shorter if it all goes horribly wrong. Dont visit in the afternoon when she might be sundowning and try and project a fascade of positivity (Im sure it wont be real, but put on the performance of a lifetime) as people with dementia will "mirror" the emotions of the person they are with. I certainly found that if I was upbeat and happy, then mum would be too, but if I was upset or anxious, then mum picked it up and she would get upset as well.

I used to take some chocolate or my mums favourite sweets (candy) which I would produce as a distraction when I didnt like the way the conversation was going, or I could see that it was straying into dangerous waters. I also used to time my visits so that I left when the mid-day meal was being served as this acted as a distraction for me leaving. I learned the hard way that saying goodbye was a trigger for mum getting upset, so after advice from here I never said goodbye at all and left my coat and bag in the managers office so that there was no visual cue that I was going. I would just say that I needed the bathroom (ooh look, mum, your dinner is here. Ill be back soon) and go.

I hope it goes well


Registered User
Nov 1, 2016
When it’s time for me to go after a short visit in a Covid secure pod ( only allowed 30 minutes) I always tell mum it’s time for her to go to the cafe for a cake and a cup of tea! She is then happy to toddle off with a Carer, particularly if it’s a male one for some reason!

I take a piece of cake for mum and the carers give it her at the beginning of the visit with a cup of tea. She enjoys eating it on her side of the screen while I eat my piece on my side, a bit like going to a cafe which we used to do a lot.

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