Mum won't sleep in her own bed

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by SusanH, Mar 7, 2008.

  1. SusanH

    SusanH Registered User

    Oct 25, 2006

    My Mum, who has Vascular Dementia and AD, is refusing to go to bed at night with her husband of 50 years. She thinks he is a stranger and not only won't get into bed, but is unhappy about him sleeping in the same house as her. She is even uncomfortable about him sleeping in the spare room. As a consequence neither of them is getting much sleep. She spent last night on the sofa (2-seater, so not very comfortable). Has anyone any experience of this sort of issue? We don't know how to deal with it and to help her to feel more secure. Dad is upset, but basically just wants them both to get a good night's sleep, wherever he has to sleep to get it!

    She has been getting increasingly aggressive towards my Dad(verbally and on one occasion physically). She often refers to my Dad as "him" and talks to him about "Colin" (my Dad's name). She seems to think on these occasions that my Dad is a strange man in her house. She asks every night when she can go home. I am worried about them both and am not sure how to help. My brother is going to sleep at their house on Saturday to help, but we all have families of our own and this isn't really a long term solution.

    Thank you if you have any experiences you can share that might help us to help them.

  2. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    I'm not sure if this is going to help (it definitely won't solve the immediate problem) but you might want to search the board (or google) Capgras syndrome. If what you read rings a bell, you need to get back to the consultant pronto: this is something that needs medical management. It may not be this, it's fairly rare, but if it is you won't be able to solve it on your own.
  3. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    Sorry Sue, I haven't any experience with this specifically but I have heard of it fairly frequently. Is it possible for your dad to nap during the day? Is your mother on any medication at all? Perhaps something to help her sleep & then your dad could go to bed after her. Hopefully it's just a phase. What does she say when she does talk about "Colin"?
  4. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    I've just thought of something else: you mentioned an incident of violence. I don't want to worry you unduly but if this has happened once it could happen again. I would strongly suggest that wherever your father sleeps he can lock the door. I realize that sounds overly dramatic, but it wouldn't be unheard of (at least on this forum) of someone deciding to take drastic steps to rid themselves of the (believed) imposter.
  5. SusanH

    SusanH Registered User

    Oct 25, 2006
    Thank you Jennifer and Joanne for your prompt replies.

    I have searched the forum for Capgras Syndrome (I'd never heard of it before) and I think I need to get my Dad to talk about this with the consultant. Some time ago my Mum accused my Dad of selling their home and setting up an exact replica and trying to "trick" her that it was the same one, but she wasn't fooled. I'm not sure she thinks my Dad is a replica of "Colin" though, she seems to see them as separate people. On those occasions she is aware of him as her husband she says she doesn't mind him touching her things, but not "those other people who come in the house" (or course, there are no "other people"). When she talks about "Colin", she talks about how much he annoys her and how he gets on her nerves (she has been saying this sort of thing for years however). She won't let my Dad do anything for her of a personal nature, he is having difficulty getting her to wash. She won't let him wash her clothes and the otehr week when I was helping her sort out her wardrobe I came across a pile of extremely dirty underwear stuffed in a drawer. I searched on this site and got some good advice about not stressing too much about personal hygiene!

    Thank you for your concern Jennifer, there are no locks on any doors in their house - I don't know how my Dad would react if I suggested getting one fitted, but I am concerned for his safety. Last week she told me she'd "swing for him" and he "drives her mad" - she is verbally aggressive to him with no provocation. She punched him when he threw away an empty envelope from a bank statement which had arrived for her - she ordered him out of the living room and punched him in the chest when he tried to come back in.

    She is very angry and distressed, she cries a lot of the time and seems so unhappy and I think she must be frightened to think of herself alone with a strange man. I think she thinks we have abandoned her in a strange house with a stranger. She is on Reminyl and an anti-depressant (can't recall which one), neither of which seems to have any effect. My Dad is finding it difficult to get her to take her medication and sometimes finds it dropped on the floor. She gets very angry if he tries to supervise her closely and accuses him of treating her like a child.

    I will get my Dad to contact the consultant for a further discussion. Thank you so much for what you have posted. It is comforting to know that we are not alone, although in so many ways I wish we were, because that would mean nobody else had to have the distress and heart-break of this terrible illness. I have suggested in the past that my Dad might find this forum helpful, but now I hope he never reads this post as he would be heart-broken to know that I had told you about these things.

  6. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    Well you know Susan, even if it's not capgras, but simply that at time your mother "forgets" your father, is it not possible that by being able to lock her own bedroom door she might feel reassured? If I thought there was a stranger living in my home, I think I'd want a lock on my door. Perhaps you could suggest locks on bedroom doors to your father in the setting of offering reassurance to your mother. Doesn't have to be anything fancy - a bathroom type bolt would be adequate for a reassurance point of view I would think.
  7. sherrie1962

    sherrie1962 Registered User

    Mar 9, 2008
    be strong

    We experienced the same thing with my mum in the middle stages of Alzheimers, it was a very distressing time and I do sympathise with you. We tried to reassure mum and kept showing her photos of dad(john) even puttin name labels on his jumpers, anything for her to try and recognise dad.She thought she was sleeping with her own father, and kept saying to us, its not right!When she wanted to sleep on her own, we let her do whatever made her feel comfortable. My poor dad was exhausted and the gp put mum on calming tablets,not great though.You will get through this stage of this wicked illness,keep reassuring her. We also had mum stay with us to give dad a break which did help. Hope this helps a little, I know some days you are at your wits end. Be strong for your mum and dad!
  8. SusanH

    SusanH Registered User

    Oct 25, 2006
    What is the role of the Community Mental Health Team?

    Since I last posted about my Mum things have not got any better. She is now "sleeping" fully clothed downstairs. She is still aggressive towards my Dad and has been very short with me and my brother (who is known as "Halo Kid" in our family because normally my Mum thinks he's fantastic - for her to be aggressive with him is shocking) She was telling my brother that the magazine-rack "isn't right" and it used to be more red (in colour - it's teak). Her "conversation" is increasingly random and jumbled, with odd comments and random phrases. More lucid phrases are along the lines of "This is NOT my home".

    My Dad went along to the local Alzheimers Support Group and spoke with the organiser who is a former psychiatric nurse. She thought there was a strong possibility that it might be Capgras and advised my Dad to go straight to the Memory Clinic as the GP would never have heard of it. I phoned on his behalf as my Mum follows him around like a hawk and he is not able to speak about anything like this on the phone. I explained what had been happening, stressed my concerns about the situation and mentioned Capgras. The Memory nurse laughed and said there was a long way to go before going down that route. She told me to get a urine sample from Mum and take her to the GP. Easier said than done - there is no way I could persuade Mum to provide a urine sample - I'll have to get her GP to ask for it, which means visiting the GP first to brief her and then getting Mum along there on some pretext, then returning with the sample - what a performance!

    The Memory Nurse I spoke to told me her role was only to monitor the effect of the drugs and that if things got "acute" we could call the Community Mental Health Team who could arrange emergency respite. I am still unsure as to the role of the Community Mental HEalth Team - can we only approach them in emergencies, or should I be contacting them to arrange some support for my Dad, who now cannot leave my Mum alone at all? My Mum has started saying that if he is going out, she is going out too (but not with him!) I work, have children and live an hour's drive away, so I can only get across to help at weekends to give him a break. Does anyone know what the role of the Community Mental Health Team is?

    In the meantime, both my Mum and Dad look dreadful for lack of sleep. I can't believe how patient my Dad is in the face of such abuse. Would it help if she had a different carer? I have thought about giving up my job to help, but my brother has advised me against this as he says he thinks she will have to go into a Nursing Home within six months. Normally I can get my Mum to co-operate but today she got really cross with me for asking her (repeatedly) not to leave her pills on the coffee table as I was worried my dog would eat them (she would not let me move her pills for her). She would not take them when we asked her to and I ended up having to tell her rather sharply that if she left her pills on the table the dog would eat them and would die. She waited a few moments and then took her pills. Result! But she made it clear from then on that I was not her favourite person.

    Sorry for the rambling post.

  9. jane@hotmail

    jane@hotmail Registered User

    Mar 13, 2008
    Take me home!

    It's interesting to read your post. It is so similiar to my own experiences with my mum 2-3 years ago. She would become very agitated at night though and not recognize dad and would spend the night wondering around the house trying to escape. Dad had to put all the keys under his pillow, and obviously got very little sleep. She evently jumped out of the living room window one morning at 4am! but thats a whole new story. Your mum, like mine may get more obsessive about escaping, so make sure your dad has window locks with the keys hidden. My mum is always convinced that her house is'nt her house and constantly asks to be taken home, If you move into another room she says 'I don't think we should be in here' or 'Are you allowed to do that'. She constantly is getting up and telling me that she needs to get home and would I take her. I wish she could feel safe in her house, but it does'nt matter how much we look at her doll collection, the furniture she's collected over the years, she can't be convinced she lives there. Distraction is the only short time fix. We also have problems with getting mum to undress at night, she can become aggressive, last night she hit my sister over it. Trying to strike a balance with personal hygiene is very difficult. I wish you luck with your mum, I know how difficult it is to see these changes and try and understand them.

    Jane x
  10. sue4

    sue4 Registered User

    Apr 15, 2008
    We are in avery similar situation to you.Someone recommended that I look at your thread because I was asking for advice for my Mum.It is the first time I have read about someone who has symptoms so similar to my Mums.My mum has Lewy Body Dementia and suffers many hallucinations a day.She is also convinced my Dad is two different people.
    Mum thinks that both these people look the same and have the same name.She gets upset because she thinks this other person that she didn't marry is getting into bed with her,is opening their mail,using the car etc.
    We have tried reassuring her,going along with some off the things,trying to distract her but sometimes none of these things work.It is very hard for Dad when he is on his own, some times it helps to just walk out of the room but very often it doesn't.I am going to see if I can talk to the Psyhciatric nurse without Mum there to see if she can offer any more advice.If she suggests anything that works and calms Mum down I will let you know. Sue4
  11. jesst

    jesst Registered User

    Jul 16, 2007
    Liverpool, UK
    This is the first time I've posted, but I just had to respond to yours.
    My Dad has AD and my parents went through exactly the same thing. My Dad didn't know who my Mum was a lot of the time and didn't like sleeping in the same bed as her. He used to say to her in the morning "you're not staying again tonight are you?". He used to talk about this woman who came when my Mum wasnt there. Somtimes he'd ring me or my sister and ask if we knew where Mum was. Of course she'd be there with him but he didn't know her. Unfortunately he didn't much like this "strange" woman. Said she was very difficult and stroppy and one time talked about her being very fat! needless to say my Mum wasn't too amused about that comment.
    He also didn't beleive that it was their real home either. He kept talking about their real house and wanting to go back there. He also commented alot about how it was funny that the people who lived there, had the same books and furniture as him.
    We used to tell him endlessly that this woman was Mum and that this was his real home but it never worked and he would never believe us. Sadly, he did get a little aggressive towards my Mum a few times, I suppose out of frustration really. My Dad is currently in hospital but is about to go into a nursing home. So, I can't really offer any advice, only to say I understand exactly what you are going through.
  12. Hilary K

    Hilary K Registered User

    Jan 15, 2008
    We been through the same


    This happened to our family last November. My Mum thought she had left my Dad and was living with another man! (They've been married 49 years) She kept phoning me every evening, saying she was being held against her will. One night she called the police, who arrived with an ambulance. She kept trying to phone my Dad but, of course, it was engaged because she was using the house phone. Some nights I managed to calm her by pointing out ornaments or wedding photographs to reassure her that the world wasn't as she saw it. Eventually the Community Psychiatrict Team called just as she was trying to "escape" and admitted her to hospital.

    They have been trying to balance some medication so she could come home but she has just (within the last two weeks) moved to a "home".

    We couldn't cope and luckily for our consciences the consultant made the decision that she wasn't well enough to come home.

    I can completely understand what you are going through. Even now that she is safe with 24 hr care it's impossible to settle and try to maintain our own lives. I'm trying to understand that this could be how our family is for a lot of years but it is so, so, so hard.

    I know exactly how you feel, if it helps at all.
  13. SusanH

    SusanH Registered User

    Oct 25, 2006
    Thank you everyone for your posts ... and yes, it does help to know that others are having the same sad experience. It is very worrying - Mum is still sleeping fully-clothed and hasn't washed for seven weeks. On my next visit I have to try to get her to wash - now how on earth am I going to get her to do that? I thought I might offer to do her hair and take it from there, but I suspect she won't want me to. The trouble is she seems adamant to do exactly the opposite of what we want her to do - even though what we want is to take care of her and help her.

    *!@@$& illness!

  14. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hello Susan.

    My husband doesn`t refuse to wash, he just forgets to wash. I know it isn`t comparable to your mother .

    When I find a dry facecloth in the bathroom, I wet it in warm water, wring it out and take it to wherever he is sitting. I hand it to him and say `wipe your face with this, it will make you feel better.` and he does. I then give him a towel to dry his face, and he does.

    I wonder if this would work with your mother. If so, it would be a start.
  15. SusanH

    SusanH Registered User

    Oct 25, 2006
    Thank you for that idea Sylvia. As you say, it would be a start! My Mum has always worn a lot of make-up (because she has always hated her freckles would you believe?)Now she just adds more foundation from time to time when she thinks about it, so is starting to look quite grotesque (she never takes it off). She has beautiful silver hair that she hasn't washed for seven weeks, so I would love to help her with that. I suppose it's us that is bothered by it though, not her, bless her, so I don't think we should stress too much about it, although I know it upsets my Dad.

    I'll give it a try.


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