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how to deal with irrational hate


New member
Apr 22, 2021
My husband who has recently been diagnosed with mixed dementia has sudennly decided he hates our eldest son - age 40- he refuses to speak to him and is verballly abusive and this boy is the kindest softest man you can imagine. I dont know what to do. I want both to shout at him and argue with him or refuse to be pleasant until he's pleasant to our son but I think that probably wrong......I dont know why he has turned other than he's jealous of his dog (!) or wanted him to help with an enema - which wasnt needed. Its making me resent being his carer as he is so difficult...when hes verbally abusive with me I'm better at ignoring it....but this hurts us both...

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
Hellio @22kate and welcome to DTP (Dementia Talking Point). Unfortunately, dementia can cause the sweetest and mildest of people to become quite horrible. I have heard the opposite is true.

Does your son live at home? If he does, it will be difficult for him to steer clear of your husband, which would be the best option for him at the moment. With the current COVID situation, I'm assuming he can't go away for a few days or a week, just to allow your husband time to adjust.

These behaviours do change, so I think this is just a phase, albeit a very upsetting one,. You're right, arguing or shouting or being unpleasant will not help the situation at all. In fact, with dementia, the argument and reasons for it may be forgotten, but the unpleasant emotions remain. So your husband will retain the negative feelings. It is best to ignore as much as possible. When my mother became difficult, I would remove myself. So perhaps you can announce you're going to the toilet, have a bath, do something completely unrelated to the situation. I would offer my mother a cup of coffee and sometimes that distraction would work.

Keep posting and let us know how you get on. Others will have more suggestions. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone, we here have gone through what you have.


Volunteer Moderator
May 9, 2012
south-east London
Hi @22kate - I don't have any direct answer as such but I do empathise with your situation as the same thing happened with my husband and our son.

There was no obvious trigger for it that I could see. My husband was the kindest, most gentle of men and my son's character was exactly the same. My husband was diagnosed at a young age (58) and our son was still a teenager, living at home while attending university.

I've often wondered if there was some underlying jealousy that had come to the fore. People always praised our son for his kindness and academic achievements and I know that my husband would have liked to have gone to university himself - he was certainly clever enough but obstacles were placed in his way.

Anyway, for a time my husband developed a very nasty opinion of our son and said many detrimental things about him to me, though fortunately not directly to our son. Having said that, our son knew something was up by the way he would often catch his father glaring at him. Fortunately my son also knew how to read the signs and would often go to his room, hoping it would be a case of 'out of sight, out of mind'.

When I didn't back up my husband's opinion (I simply diverted the topic) he saw that as me being in league with my son. I could see that things were escalating beyond my control and spent two weeks trying to get help from the home intervention team but nothing was forthcoming. It took a crisis to happen (my husband attacked our son out of the blue) and then my husband ended up temporarily in a mental health unit.

It was an awful place but it was also the best thing to happen because they got my husband on the right medication and, after a couple of months, he returned home without all the paranoia. I am pleased to say my son and husband returned to their previously great father/son relationship and remained extremely close until the end.

So, however dire things might seem at the moment @22kate please know that medication can help and situations can change for the better. Even now, almost three years since my husband died, and despite all the huge stresses along the way, my son says his father's dementia ended up bringing them closer to each other rather than tearing them apart.

As a mother and wife witnessing this scenario play out between two of the people so close to me I understand your anxiety - but I can also say that it brought me great comfort in the end when I saw their relationship completely restored and strengthened.