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Negative Comments. Racism.

MrsMoose

Registered User
Oct 1, 2014
152
I know this is probably a well-worn topic.

But my father-in-law, who has dementia, has taken against my 18 year old daughter's first boyfriend - and we believe it's ethnicity which has caused him to do son.

They met at a pre-Christmas family meal.

Ever since then when the boyfriend's name has cropped up in conversation, my father-in-law has made the following comments.

- My daughter could have done better
- The boyfriend is rude
- The boyfriend is dodgy.
- There is something 'funny' about that boy
- The boyfriend is villainous.
- He, (my father-in-law) can tell this, because of his police background, although the rest of us my have been fooled by him.

The young man in question is a well-mannered, hard-working person who plays a lot of support and is studying medicine at a well-regarded university. My daughter is enjoying his company, and the rest of us are happy to have him around.

My husband is really annoyed by my father's behaviour!!

Any thoughts?
 

Beate

Registered User
May 21, 2014
12,010
London
Unfortunately you won't be able to do much about his comments, and getting angry certainly won't help as your FIL won't understand what he is doing wrong. Be calm, patient and try to distract plus reassure your daughter and her boyfriend that this is the illness talking and ask them not to take it personally. If he grew up in a time where casual racism was the norm, then that might be back in his mind now.

Try compassionate communication: http://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/show...ionate-Communication-with-the-Memory-Impaired
 

fizzie

Registered User
Jul 20, 2011
2,730
My only thought is to ignore it and make a comment like 'mmmmmmmmmmmm' and don't be drawn in at all. You have absolutely no chance of changing his perception wherever it stems from although it might be worth giving the young man an idea of Grandads condition and that he is prone to making remarks which he would never have done previously - good training for one of our Doctors to be - they could do with more experience of dementia :)
 

Shedrech

Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
9,163
Yorkshire
I agree with Beate - such an unfortunate but not unusual part of dementia

I wonder, though, would it be possible for the family to give the boyfriend a nickname, so that you all know who you mean but your FIL doesn't associate the nickname with the person he met - even allow him to think his granddaughter has a new boyfriend whose name is the nickname? You will then, at least, be able to talk about the boyfriend without triggering the negative comments. I know it's a bit deceitful; just for the sake of peace?
Might depend on how often he is likely to see the lad again.
 

MrsMoose

Registered User
Oct 1, 2014
152
I think what my husband and I are struggling with is the distorted thinking.

If he said directly something along the lines of, 'I'd have preferred it if she'd found a boyfriend of her own background/race,' then we would have sighed, but accepted that was his viewpoint.

It's the rather twisted thinking, where he is making a pleasant young man out to be an unpleasant person, which seems a bit - I don't know - crazy.

Forgetfulness is easier to accept, than this kind of illogical behaviour.
 

Sue J

Registered User
Dec 9, 2009
8,035
I think what my husband and I are struggling with is the distorted thinking.

If he said directly something along the lines of, 'I'd have preferred it if she'd found a boyfriend of her own background/race,' then we would have sighed, but accepted that was his viewpoint.

It's the rather twisted thinking, where he is making a pleasant young man out to be an unpleasant person, which seems a bit - I don't know - crazy.

Forgetfulness is easier to accept, than this kind of illogical behaviour.
It might not be as
illogical
as you think. Grandad's hold a special place in their heart for granddaughters and with dementia when it feels like you are losing everything the things that are dearest to you can become an object of obsession apart from the fact that your mind is more often caught in past events than present therefore viewing the person still as a young teenager or younger child the boyfriend can be viewed as a threat to this special relationship and become the focus of 'irrational' abuse, if she didn't have a boyfriend she could pay her Grandad more attention. Also quite apart from the fact that your FIL's understanding of social skills is evidently compromised by the dementia. Maybe the boyfriend spending time just talking to Grandad about a past or current interest or hobby may help his acceptance of him.

Just some thoughts
Best wishes
Sue:)
 

fizzie

Registered User
Jul 20, 2011
2,730
I think what my husband and I are struggling with is the distorted thinking.

If he said directly something along the lines of, 'I'd have preferred it if she'd found a boyfriend of her own background/race,' then we would have sighed, but accepted that was his viewpoint.

It's the rather twisted thinking, where he is making a pleasant young man out to be an unpleasant person, which seems a bit - I don't know - crazy.

Forgetfulness is easier to accept, than this kind of illogical behaviour.
Dementia has no logic :)
 

MrsMoose

Registered User
Oct 1, 2014
152
I think my father in law is fighting quite hard to keep up appearances and say the right thing, in most respects. Though it's clear there are huge holes in his memory, and he has little sense of time. It's quite hard for him to remember more than three or four names.

He has a small stock of remarks most of which are used in an appropriate way. (Though he will always thank me for a meal, even if my husband cooked it.)

So the rather distorted remarks about my daughter's boyfriend have suprised us, and seem out of character, even though we know about the ways dementia can progress. I suppose we are wondering/worrying if this is a new phase, and that there'll be distorted remarks about other people too, before long.
 

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