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My mum doesn't recognise my dad - what can I do?


Registered User
Feb 5, 2015
My mum is 72 and was diagnosed with alzheimers a couple of years ago. Unfortunately over the last couple of weeks she has started not to recognise my dad and is getting quite agitated with him and doesn't know why he is in her house. She is also telling him not to touch anything as it is all her dad's things and he wouldn't be happy. I don't know what on earth to do. My mum is still very mobile and sociable but cannot be left alone. My mum is constantly asking for my dad and saying how fantastic he is but doesn't accept that he is with her. I feel so sorry for dad but I don't know how they are going to get on in the same home with her feeling so agitated with him. Any advice at all please? I have said to dad that maybe we need to set-up their spare bedroom for him to sleep in. Thank you so much.


Registered User
Sep 17, 2010
It's quite common for this to happen but wholly heart-breaking when it does.

Other TPers have suggested unrecognised spouses should briefly leave the room and then return - when hopefully they'll be recognised again.


Registered User
Jan 14, 2010
East Kent
Hello Prezzy Welcome to TP.

I really don't know what to suggest that may help. When my mum forgot Dad ,thankfully she was not distressed, just used to ask me who he was , I used to tell her that he was that man she liked, this satisfied her.

I am wondering if your mum thinks your Dad cannot be her husband because she remembers him as a young man

Sorry no help I know .


Registered User
Jan 20, 2011
Welcome to TP, Prezzy, though I'm sad that your family circumstances brought you here. I think your dad should move to another bedroom as you suggest. It will be less distressing for him, and your mum won't have to share a bed with a 'stranger'.

What to say to his wife? It's truly heartbreaking for him. There is some comfort in how much she cares about her husband, even though she doesn't recognise this person as the younger man she imagines her husband to be. Perhaps he could tell her that her husband is his best friend, they are very close, her husband wants her to be well looked after until she sees him again; that sort of thing?

With regard to the bedroom dilemma.... I knew someone who had both parents with dementia. They moved into a nursing home together. Her dad wanted his wife with him all the time and would get jealous and angry if she was taken to the day room without him. She, however, didn't remember him at all and was very frightened about having to share a bedroom with a 'strange man'. She wouldn't allow him to see her in her nightie, so providing personal care for 2 physically frail people in the same room was virtually impossible. Her mum became a screamer because by that time she had lost her speech and it was the only way she could communicate. :(

The wife was moved to another floor to which he did not have access, but she would be brought up in a wheelchair to visit him at his insistence. Eventually this was stopped because she found it too distressing. He would 'resume control' of the relationship and behave to her as her husband by expecting kisses and hugs and talk about the family. She, poor thing, had no idea who any of her family was and just wanted to be left to get on with her new life without having to see the old man every day.

I know your parents are a long way from that scenario, and I don't want to upset you further. My point is that her dad wanted to keep his wife grounded in the marriage by daily contact, but the more he did this the more she wanted to get away from him. It was the dementia that did it. They had been a close and loving couple when they were both well and he had been her carer for many years before he himself became ill.

I would say that your mum needs more privacy, especially in the refuge that is her bedroom. Our bedrooms are private spaces, where we feel safe and can relax and go to sleep. Would a move to another room by your dad compromise your mum's safety or toilet needs?
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Registered User
Aug 30, 2012
Brixham Devon
I also think separate bedrooms could help. When my Husband no longer knew me I had to sleep in a separate bedroom; when he was having a particularly disturbed night I slept on the floor outside his bedroom door. It's heartbreaking when this happens but I'm afraid it has to be faced when sharing a bedroom actually scares the Dementia sufferer.

Take care

Lyn T X

Treacle Tart

Registered User
Oct 24, 2014
Picture Book

Morning Prezzy
My Mother was diagnosed two years ago - slow to progress at first but now every day seems more confused. To help Mum with recognition I put together a family photo book starting with photo's of Mum and Dad when they were younger, their wedding and then so on. Each photo has in large font at the bottom of the page their names and who they are so for example their wedding photo would have You and (name) wedding day. I have added photo's of them as they have grown older, last one was taken at their 67th wedding anniversary. There are photo's of my sister and I as babies, us and our hubbies, grandchildren and family get togethers which she enjoys looking at and telling me stories she remembers from the past :)
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