Is this ' normal....?

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by abby, Dec 22, 2006.

  1. abby

    abby Registered User

    Dec 19, 2006
    West Country

    Dad has for ever...been a very proud and private man....all through my life he let Mum do the cuddles etc....not his fault he was away at sea for much of my early years and never ' learned ' and has always felt uncomfortable showing any physical closeness......but always reciprocated when I kissed / cuddled him hello or goodbye etc. But I always knew even though he loved me he found this side of parenting hard. Also he was from the old school ...woman did the childrearing etc...

    Well, lately I had noticed this has not only changed but almost gone in reverse....somuchso that I now feel a tad uncomfortable with it. The cuddles are not arms round shoulders etc but slid under my armpits :confused:
    I have not shared this with my family but last week 2 of my daughters took me aside after they had visted him , seperately, and said they were feeling uneasy because he was very ' hands on ' in a ' touchy feely ' way.....not over the top or sexual as such but concerning nonetheless....
    He seems to grab arms, arms around waists etc when ever you talk to him....but in a caring delicate way....

    Now, is this just me being aware because it is out of character and having never practised cuddling he doesn't know how to do it. Or not...?
    Am I over reacting / worried for nothing?

    I haven't enjoyed typing this post.....( usual feeling of disloyalty - guilt ) such an intimate subject and totallt disrespctful to dad ( who would be mortified if he thought I was worried about this ) but just wondered if this is ' normal ' ( whatever the hell that is ) or is just Dad.....might help me understand this and know whether to speak to my children about it.....
  2. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    Hope your daughters can just move out of the way if it gets too much for them.
  3. abby

    abby Registered User

    Dec 19, 2006
    West Country

    Ahhh is that a 'yes ' this is a condition AzD? ( sorry can't work out whether AD or AZ is correct abbreviation for Alzhiemers :confused: ) and if so it is clearly here to stay..?
  4. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    I don't know, everyone's different.

    My mother went through times of being physically very "clingy" in a toddler sort of way.

    And you have to draw up boundaries so you can defend your self without actually starting a strop about it.
  5. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    #5 Margarita, Dec 22, 2006
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2006
    My mother was never one to be overly loving with cuddling me when younger .

    she would grab my teenagers in strange ways when trying to kiss cuddle them and she has a very strong grip.

    In mum emergency respite, there was one man that would grab you strangely when wanting your attention; you had to tell him kindly not to do it that way. its how we perceive it , I am sure your father is not doing it in a sexually way , but can understand your children getting embarrassed about it, you all just have to come up with an assertive way to word it to your father they granddad not to do it that way , but this way . Not to be scared of they granddad it’s all part of the confusion of his disease in his brain , but they have a right to tell him not to do that without worrying that they are hurting his feeling .

    Now I know when my mum gets excited about something said in her horoscopes and can grip trying to cuddle the day lights out of me and it can hurt , so when I see it coming I put my hand up and say stop, she stops and I put my arm around her shoulder .
  6. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    I'd be thinking that he is desperate to hold on to his family and feels he is losing the ability to. so he tris hard as he can, in the ways his body lets him.

    May not be normal for us, but he is trying his best.

    Unless it becomes too difficult, or inappropriate, I'd let him show his feelings as he can.

    Otherwise, just try to keep a distance.
  7. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    Hi Abby

    Two thoughts spring to mind….

    Firstly that dementia seems to be a ‘disinhibitor’ …. manners, etiquette and understanding appropriateness seem to get lost …. conversely, could that be a good thing? … certainly from someone like me who throughout childhood and most of adulthood saw a rare ‘peck on the cheek’ from mum as a sign of any affection it still surprises me and confuses me when mum asks ‘for a hug’…… why now the need for physical demonstrations? Because she is frail and vulnerable and needs physical affirmation that she is loved and cared for? Or maybe, just maybe…. Perhaps it’s what she always wanted but felt unable (old school, as you say) to do so until now……?

    Secondly, that physical contact could be a form of validation…… again just from my own experience I can hold a conversation (albeit sometimes strange!) with mum when we are sat across a room …. If we are standing together somewhere it seems as her mouth opens, her hand reaches out and ‘grabs’ me …..same if she is trying to show me something ….. she physically ‘guides’ me to it ….. Is it her way of making things more ‘real’??

    So much for hypothesising on what’s going on in your dad’s (or my mum’s or anyone else’s) minds … what is so important is that you - and your daughters have ‘coping strategies’……as Lila and Margarita have already suggested ….

    My guess is that putting the onus on dad is not going to work …. (he may take it on board but how to expect him to remember?). On an emotional level as well as physical level being prepared to ‘distance’ themselves… on a practical level being prepared that if an arm creeps unwantedly around a waist etc they have ‘rehearsed’ taking his hand and removing his arm to a more comfortable ‘zone’ (e.g. shoulder as Margarita has mentioned or perhaps linking arms which provides the physical closeness without being too ‘intimate‘) … obviously much of this depends on the age of your children …. and if they are uncomfortable (even if they can rationalise that the ‘touching’ is probably perfectly innocent) then my personal feeling is THEIR needs MUST come first in this scenario…..

    Perhaps you could ‘rehearse’ your coping strategies together in a (superficially) light-hearted way … it could be a good ice-breaker to discuss lots of things which you need to share as a family….

    Much love, Karen, x
  8. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hi Abby.
    My mother was always a cold woman, we were never hugged or kissed. When she was in the NH, she shocked me by asking for a hug. What upset me was the fact she wanted ME to hug HER, this woman who`d never shown any physical affection towards me. This is the selfishness of dementia.

    When you become uncomfortable, it`s a different story. Then the physical contact, in my opinion, is inappropriate.

    Because it`s so difficult to differentiate, I`d give your dad the benefit of the doubt, but I`d be concerned that your daughters were made to feel uncomfortable. If that continued, they might want to avoid your father and that would be sad.

    If he is capable of understanding, I`d tell him not to touch the girls the way he does, as they are embarrassed. If he can`t be made to understand, I`d discourage it as gently as possible and tell your daughters to do the same.
  9. mel

    mel Registered User

    Apr 30, 2006
    Hi Abby
    my mum was never demonstrative/affectionate but she is now......She's always stroking me,kissing me and I have felt a little uncomfortable about it......
    How I longed for those cuddles when I was a child......I just believe that as Bruce says she is holding on to her family......and also she craves affection now...i find it quite difficult after all these years..........
    love xx
  10. abby

    abby Registered User

    Dec 19, 2006
    West Country
    #10 abby, Dec 22, 2006
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2006
    Thank you all for your thoughts.....

    It is so difficult to actually explain...I am not for one minute suggesting Dad is a ......well you know.......but because neither myself or the girls could understand why this change I didn't know if it was the disease or...well I don't even know what I thought !

    It seems from your replies that there IS a general trend for the sufferers to want / need this closeness and certainly some of the discriptions..........

    are all so familiar.....

    Also I can't get my head around the fact he clearly neither thinks it's wrong ( is it? ) nor knows it's not usual ( for him ). 3 years ago he would off marched up to any man and given him what for if he saw or heard disrespectful or inapropiate behaviour to a lady....

    I suspect ( and for this MORE guilt has piled on top ) that it's because he is my dad, a male.......I know for a fact, had it been my mum I would of seen it as awwwwwww bless...and not react......How shameful and disgusting is that?

    Also...a long shot ( still getting my head around all the concepts here :confused: ) if the sufferers regress (?) to childlike state...this could be ' a child wanting reafirmation of love ' ? Let's face it...I actually am parenting I failing him in that department? Spending to much time being a carer ( necessary ) and not enough just being a daughter? That might explain why he is the same with the girls.....?

    So, if it is a common innocent problem - as in part of the disease / regression, then that's just another thing for us to deal / live with.....but my concern was that if ' it ' was listed as a known problem, I needed to know....

    I love Dad to bits and now fear I / we feel ' uncomfortable ' because of my ignorance....and fear of the ' don't know whats happening ' syndrome? Maybe I have slighted Dad's character on the WWW :eek: because of my lack of not knowing enough about the disease ( or not being a member here long enough to learn ;) )

    * note to santa * please may I just have one day to not have to think, worry, sort out, racing around, understand........ok ok half a day then..... just so I can sit in the middle of an open field with my girls ( dogs not humans ) and breath deep...... empty mind.....just watch the birds...make a daisy chain...just anything just a few precious seconds for me...sometimes I just feel like my head will explode...
    Just re read this...and how dreadfully selfish I am......

    I end the day as I started..........guilty and ashamed...sorry dad
  11. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    #11 Margarita, Dec 22, 2006
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2006

    Sorry abby, santa can’t give you that ,:p as I ask first he did get back to me and says:) , yes I can have it when every I want , just 10min not more then an hours . out with my own imagination when I feel just like you

  12. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    Hi Abby

    What a difficult problem to deal with.

    I think Brucie is right, your father is not meaning anything inappropriate, although there is always the possibility that he is. Inhibitions, and the awareness of acceptable behaviour sometimes disappear with AD.

    However, you have to protect the feelings of your daughters. They should not be made to feel awkward or embarrassed by their grandfather.

    You have to tell them that it is OK to remove his hand to a more appropriate place if they feel uncomfortable. (It's OK for you too.

    It's better not to make a big fuss about it, and if your daughters can do it lightly, that would be best for all concerned, but if that fails you may have to have a word with him, and hope it sinks in.

    The important thing is that your daughters feel comfortable with him, otherwise they will make excuses to avoid visiting him.

    Difficult, but you can do it!

    Good luck,
  13. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    I think the change in behaviour is due to the disease. As for the "appropriateness" of it, perhaps simply moving his hand to the waist or shoulder would be enough. It seems to me he's simply being more physically affectionate and that it's probably not sexual in nature.

    There can be sexual behaviour with AD but I haven't heard of a great deal. The closest my mother got to it was when she told me one of the male staff was her "boyfriend" & they might get married. Hearty congrats from me & that was it.

    If your family was not the "touchy-feely" kind, it can be quite awkward & difficult. I have both in mine - on my father's side, aunts, uncles & cousins & kiddies - we're all wrapped around each other like boa constrictors & I'm totally comfortable with that. On my mother's side, I find it awkward & weird just for a Christmas kiss. So I don't. Totally different dynamics & I have a totally different reaction for each.

    Look at it this way - your father was unable to express physical affection when you were young. At least now you have a chance to have it with him, even if it was brought on by AD.

    "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

  14. abby

    abby Registered User

    Dec 19, 2006
    West Country

    My girls ( humans lol ) are in their 30's and rufty tufties like me.....;) Like me...once they know what they are up against they will be able to deal with it, was just this sudden change that alerted and worried us all...although they still don't know I had my own concerns.... We are a small caring family and my children were brought up with qualities I believed ( and still do ) to be right. Dad is the head of the family and should be treated with the love, respct and care.
    As long as we know ( or think we do :confused: ) then we can deal with it accordingly....particularly as there are grandchildren who visit weekly....

    Interestingly, my son and son in laws are met with absolute correct protocol.....a warm welcome and hand shake and no hint of anything ( ok ok typing this now makes me wonder on the gender aspect )


    Thank you...that link was brilliant, very interesting and clearly, even if the minority, can be attributed to AD.....will research this further......ty

    PS.....let me know which field you are sitting in.......I'll choose the one next door so not to disturb ;) We can both sit in true ' budda ' position and hummmmmmmm simultainiously ( sp ) :D
  15. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    They do say a family that pray together stay together.

    Also science has proven that a group of people that meditate together can produce a lot of good energy.

    So as we sit in the quite budda ' position and hummmmmmmm with the word peace within ourselfs simultainiously :)
  16. abby

    abby Registered User

    Dec 19, 2006
    West Country
    I can do ' peace within ' but not before I have unravelled Dads mind on his ' all season duvet ' that is causing huge confusion today :rolleyes:

    But the field is booked..has my name on it ;)
  17. Áine

    Áine Registered User

    hi abby

    just another thought to add to what the others are saying. has dad started having more physical care? or had carers who are more touchy feely recently? my dad wasn't one for physical closeness either ..... but when he started having physical care ( help with bathing, dressing etc) things changed a bit. i guess some of that reserve had to go. I think he also got a bit confused at times and thought other people were my mother, as so would express physical affection with them that he would probably normally have reserved for her.
  18. abby

    abby Registered User

    Dec 19, 2006
    West Country
    Hi Aine

    Dad has no outside help / carers........I/we care for him. We hope the assessment will be within 4-6 weeks...although we have the diagnosis and his doctor is activly treating the condition now ( on recomendation from ' the memory man ' ) sooo slow....
  19. abby

    abby Registered User

    Dec 19, 2006
    West Country
    Ok...another difficult post / admission.....

    Dad wanted me to pick him up * cough cough * an ' adult ' mag the day before yesturday. This is soooo out of character. He had very strong and Victorian thoughts on the subject on pornography.
    Now, I am an ' each to their own ' sort of person.......and what ever anyone wants to read is ok by me ...but it was the non recognition of what it represented that bothered was on his list next to ' Railways and commercial motors ' something he read decades ago.......! He read them both out to me with no qualms...and THEN when I delivered said mag :eek: he took it, smiled as if I had just given him a copy of Radio Times......he pointed to the front page ' picture ' and said ' Thank you dear, that's the one........... ' like we were going to discuss the content of the ' picture '......I beat a hasty retreat to the kitchen...:eek:
    Right up to ayear ago he would never of done anything like this.....never in his wildest dreams...he is such a private man.....but now...he seemed not to see any problem with this

    Oh I really don't know how to be dealing with all this side of's the not knowing if it is just ' clingy ' or .......not...:(

    I probably sound like a drama queen, and yes, you would need to meet my private and gentle dad to fully appreciate my total shock and concern...he would no longer of done this than sing in public :(


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