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Mum unable to care for herself, but thinks she can


New member
Feb 22, 2021
My mum is being cared for by my father, and her ability to walk/shower etc depends a lot on whether she drinks.

I have been fairly sure she was getting alzheimers for quite a while, but this has now been officially diagnosed on her current hospital visit.

She is alternating between looking like they might let her go home, and recommending a rehab hospital.

The big problem is that she is being very abusive to my father at times (becoming more and more frequent). She thinks he is flirting when talking to female doctors or nurses, and keeps threatening to throw him out.

When he tries to encourage her to eat or drink to get her energy up, she gets angry.

When he told her that he really needed her to help him by doing these things, as he is now struggling physically to care for her, she said "oh, boo hoo!"

She won't allow anyone else in her home to help, and blames my dad everytime he needs to get an Ambulance, and send her to hospital.

I am struggling, but really, and advice for my Dad would be great.


Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
South coast
Hello @Guppy99 and welcome to DTP

Im afraid all of this is normal in dementia.

Im afraid that my mum was was the same, although she lived on her own. She insisted that she didnt need any help and was doing all her own cooking, shopping, housework and laundry and washed and changed her clothes every day, whereas one look at her and her house told you otherwise. This loss of awareness that there is something wrong with them is a little talked about but very common symptom called anosognosia. It looks like denial, but it is not - it is the complete inability to even comprehend that they have something wrong with them. In their own mind they have not changed at all, but deep down there is this feeling that Something has changed, so they think it is due to other people around.

They also lose empathy and compassion. Everything has to be about them. They have to be the centre of attention and are unable to see anything from anyone elses viewpoint, or even understand that they have needs of their own. All they can see are their own wants, needs and comforts.

When they get to this stage you have to stop simply doing what they want and start doing what they need. Has your dad actually tried getting outside help, or has he just asked her if she would agree to it? - because the default answer to this sort of question is always no. Do you think that your dad cannot cope, even with help? If so, he can refuse to have her back.


Registered User
Dec 10, 2018
Wow, you are describing my mum! Anosognosia - I didn’t even know there was such a thing! This is very helpful, thank you Canary. Sorry to but in on Guppy’s thread 🧵 I hope your dad gets help, Guppy ❤️


Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
High Peak
My mum spoke to me just like that too. When I tried to tell her (persuade her!) that the home she was in was really nice, she'd say, 'Well let's swap places then . You can come here and I'll live at your house.'

If I mentioned my back was really bad she'd say, 'Well what do you want me to do about it?' or even, 'So what?' in a nasty tone that showed she didn't care about anyone or anything other than her own immediate needs.

It's very hard to deal with and often hurtful. Mum also thought there was nothing wrong with her and when they take that position it's impossible to persuade them otherwise.

Try subterfuge, sneakiness and bare-faced lies. I know that sounds awful but needs must... you won't be able to change your mum's attitude.


Registered User
May 21, 2018
Your poor Dad. My mum was like this with my Dad and with me after he had gone. The person closest, who does the most, generally gets the worst of it. It's very difficult to deal with. I've put a couple of links below which might be useful.

Your mum may well be very anxious, feeling that something is wrong but she doesn't know what. Is she on any medication for anxiety/depression? If not, it may be worth asking her GP about that. It can really help with mood.



New member
Feb 22, 2021
Thank you all! What you have said resonates so much! I was at the hospital today, and the social worker pointed out that she has lost the ability to reason, and can no longer see the relationship between eating, drinking and being able to walk, and wanting to go home. They are pushing really hard for her to go into a home. My dad wants to try and get her home one more time, but if she refuses to eat and drink there, then he will have no choice. I was able to get her to eat a little bit today, but she has only drunk about 20ml today. My gut feeling is that she has chosen to die. Am I wrong for thinking this would probably be the best thing? I am so beyond stressed today, and my dad is falling apart.


Registered User
Jan 16, 2020
@Guppy99 tough times for you the social worker will advise what the next steps will be. It may be worth your while chatting to someone at Dementia Connect if your Mum isn't eating and drinking it is a cause for concern they can listen to and guide you with what potentially could happen to your Mum others will be along with more advice. Try and take a bit of time for yourself it is horrible to be embroiled in this situation.


Registered User
May 21, 2018
Hello @Guppy99

Hospitals are not great places for people with dementia. It is quite possible that your mum will rally once out of the hospital environment but it sounds as though a care home might be a good option for your mum, where there will be a team of carers who may be able to persuade her to eat and drink. It sounds unlikely from what you have said earlier that your Dad would be able to do that.

My mum sometimes refuses to eat, drink or take medication but, so far, she has been gently persuaded to do so by carers or on occasion a visiting doctor. I assume that the hospital have checked your mum for urine infection and also oral thrush, by the way, both of which can affect eating and drinking.


Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
Make sure she goes to rehab or a care home.

At some time guilt will wash over your dad. He will think’ I can cope if I try harder’.
Then he will say ‘ let us have another try at home ‘.
You need to help him manage these feelings.

All the time she is occupying a hospital bed people are very happy be be helpful,
Once she is at home don’t hold your breath for help of any kind.

The behaviours you describe are pretty standard, but one thing is for sure they will get worse !


Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
hello @Guppy99
a warm welcome from me too

such a sad situation, it's understandable that your dad is falling apart and you are struggling

I wonder whether it may be worth having a conversation with her doctor and asking that they be brutally honest with you, that you would prefer to know exactly how things are for your mum .... sometimes medics don't have that discussion until family members approach them, as some - it may be that your mum is overwhelmed by being in hospital, it may be that she isn't exactly choosing to die but that she is not wanting fluids and food because she is already in the process and her body is shutting down

if a discharge to respite care is being suggested, the staff really do think this is the best for your mum .. mostly it's suggested that patients return home with a full care package as this is the preferred option of Social Services, to keep someone in their own home for as long as possible ... maybe let your dad know this, and also that it will be harder to arrange a move into residential care after a return home ... he will feel awful if he cannot cope and a crisis situation happens ... so hard for him right now as visiting is much trickier with the current restrictions

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