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New to forum - need advice on Mum not recognising Dad

Milliemiss

New member
Jul 5, 2020
3
Hello - my mum has been on Exelon patch, Risperidone and Mirtazapine for 3 weeks after being hospitalised due to delerium. She has improved but still has problems recognising Dad. I'm having trouble finding information on what is happening and how to cope. Mum will have episodes of thinking that there are people in the house. She also will suddenly be unable to recognise Dad. She says he is similar to dad but doesn't know him. The only thing that works is for Dad to leave the room and when he returns I say "hello dad" and mum remembers him. She will be fine then. I have read about photo albums and dad wearing a name tag, which I don't think will work as it will make her feel stupid. When mum is out of this episode I can explain what is happening to her and she understands so we are walking a very fine line. Does anyone have any experience with this particular issue? I would appreciate any advice.
 

Bunpoots

Volunteer Host
Apr 1, 2016
4,765
Nottinghamshire
Welcome to Dementia Talking Point @Milliemiss

Hopefully your mum will continue to improve. Not recognising family and friends is a common thing. Some people get around this by announcing themselves before they enter the room so your dad could say something like “Hello (mum’s name) it’s me (dad’s name)” as this could help your mum to recognise him. I don’t think wearing a name tag would help but many members have found this helpful:

 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
71,808
Kent
There were many times my husband didn`t know me @Milliemiss . Sometimes he didn`t know who I was full stop and other times he didn`t know me as his wife but accepted me as someone familiar.
Which way is it with your dad?

It will be very upsetting for your mum.

I learned not to persuade my husband to accept me as his wife, I was relieved he accepted me as someone good in his life.

The only thing that works is for Dad to leave the room and when he returns I say "hello dad" and mum remembers him
That is the best strategy. At least you have found something which works. If you are not there, is there any strategy you can think of which your mother can use which will help her.

Welcome to dementia talking Point. I hope you will be glad you joined.
 

Milliemiss

New member
Jul 5, 2020
3
Thankyou for your replies. I suggested to Dad last night to ring when it happens and I can talk to Mum and he can leave the room and return. Mum called my sister not knowing who "the man" was or where Dad was, so we went over straight away. Lucky we live close by. Mum also thinks that Dad is her own father. I'm not sure what happens but it's like a switch goes off and her brain puts a different face on Dad. He is struggling to cope. I really thought the Risperidone would help with this but it doesn't seem to be. Mums mood has improved which gave me some false hope. I'm not sure if the photo books would help as Mum sees a different face on Dad when it happens. I'm at a loss.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
71,808
Kent
Hello @Milliemiss

If this usually happens late afternoon or early evening it is caused by sundowning which is commin behaviour in people with dementia

 

Mandy76

Registered User
Jul 25, 2019
41
Thankyou for your replies. I suggested to Dad last night to ring when it happens and I can talk to Mum and he can leave the room and return. Mum called my sister not knowing who "the man" was or where Dad was, so we went over straight away. Lucky we live close by. Mum also thinks that Dad is her own father. I'm not sure what happens but it's like a switch goes off and her brain puts a different face on Dad. He is struggling to cope. I really thought the Risperidone would help with this but it doesn't seem to be. Mums mood has improved which gave me some false hope. I'm not sure if the photo books would help as Mum sees a different face on Dad when it happens. I'm at a loss.
This is exactly, exactly what we had with my mum. She would go into "states" where she did not recognise my dad and think he was her own father, or one of her brothers. It was like, as you say, she saw a different face on him. Sometimes she thought he was an identical impostor, or just a strange man that she didn't know. It caused a great amount of distress for her and for my dad. It was one of the worst symptoms of her condition.

Sadly she ended up in a state of constant delusion and she was hospitalised in December last year and she is now in a care home, but the funny thing is that when she was in these other environments, she has always recognised him!

No medication worked at all - she was on Rivastigmine patches and quetiapine, plus various anti-anxiety pills, but nothing helped with the non-recognition. She also did it to me, thinking I was one of her sisters.

I am sorry you are going through this - it is a very stressful situation. I wish I had an answer as to what to do - but we never found anything that worked. Being out of her home environment seems to have stopped her not knowing us though.
 

Jaded'n'faded

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
900
High Peak
I think part of the recognition problem (or lack of!) is down to the way many people with dementia disappear into the past. My mum imagined she was in her 30s (or younger sometimes) so it made sense to her that her parents were alive and her husband and young children should be around. Maybe it also explained why her surroundings didn't look 'right'.

Whenever I visited mum she would show recognition but denied absolutely that I was her daughter. Questioned further she said, 'well you're far too old for a start!' Looking in a mirror she would say, 'who's that old woman?' clearly not recognising her reflection because in her mind she was much younger.

I tried going through photo albums so she could see family members at different ages but unfortunately it didn't actually help :(
 

RosettaT

Registered User
Sep 9, 2018
509
Mid Lincs
That's what I believe happens to my OH @Jaded'n'faded. I'm sure he goes back to his teens and thinks I'm his mum at times. That doesn't bother me tho' as he adored her and was a very well behaved teenager (thank goodness).
 

Milliemiss

New member
Jul 5, 2020
3
Things have deteriorated. Mums patch was increased to the next level and things were okish. Then she had a couple more very bad episodes this week. She is now afraid of Dad and the prospect of sleeping together. The doctor has decreased the patch dose and suggested extra Risperidone when she is agitated. I've had a week off on stress leave. Barely slept for weeks so am a wreak. Mum didn't want to stay at home with dad tonight so I brought her to my place (rental). Dad has said he will leave as he is causing the problem - he is 84! My sister and I work full time and it's just us. No husband's. The thing is mum is quite good throughout the day, even if she doesn't know Dad all the time. We have given up telling her that dad is her husband. There is no way she would go into care voluntarily. The only thing I can think of with my fried brain is to stay over at their place a few nights a week and mum come to me a few nights. If I left my job I wouldn't get back into the workforce - I am 48. Mum won't accept anyone she doesn't know coming in to help her with social things or going to the shops. We are all beyond our wit's end. I just can't see any way out of this situation.
 

Hazara8

Registered User
Apr 6, 2015
512
Things have deteriorated. Mums patch was increased to the next level and things were okish. Then she had a couple more very bad episodes this week. She is now afraid of Dad and the prospect of sleeping together. The doctor has decreased the patch dose and suggested extra Risperidone when she is agitated. I've had a week off on stress leave. Barely slept for weeks so am a wreak. Mum didn't want to stay at home with dad tonight so I brought her to my place (rental). Dad has said he will leave as he is causing the problem - he is 84! My sister and I work full time and it's just us. No husband's. The thing is mum is quite good throughout the day, even if she doesn't know Dad all the time. We have given up telling her that dad is her husband. There is no way she would go into care voluntarily. The only thing I can think of with my fried brain is to stay over at their place a few nights a week and mum come to me a few nights. If I left my job I wouldn't get back into the workforce - I am 48. Mum won't accept anyone she doesn't know coming in to help her with social things or going to the shops. We are all beyond our wit's end. I just can't see any way out of this situation.
The whole ' non recognition' factor can fluctuate, dependent on the level of dementia and depth of loss of short term memory. Often there can be remarkable clarity when very early " memories " become the present norm and living reality for the one living with dementia.
Also it is not deceitful to 'manipulate ' the interaction in order to realise a ' connection'. I.e. Instead of " But l am your xx?" ( husband, wife, daughter etc) one can say " Yes, she or he told me that they are coming this afternoon " or in acknowledging the challenge to your identity in a positive manner, albeit false, can sometimes prove constructive. So next time one enters the room there is recognition, even if recognition of a different kind as per before the disease. You can NEVER challenge a dementia mind and that lesson is soon learned. But you can adapt, deviate or " trick " legitimately so as to bring about that sense of belonging. Because behind all the plaques and tangles and unfamiliar behaviour, resides the REAL person. However hard, however utterly exasperating hold onto that truth and reserve the contempt for the disease.
Dementia is an often subtle and unpredictable beast because it evolves from an unfathomable and complex mind beset with interference, damage. But l have seen a sudden spark of recognition/ realisation come about via a familiar tune, a name or an image on a television screen. Go forth day to day and let tomorrow be, because it never actually comes - yet remains so often a source of anxiety and expectation which drains the spirit.
 

MaNaAk

Registered User
Jun 19, 2016
2,563
Essex
I used photo albums as well but I do feel sorry for your poor dad too. He must be broken hearted and your mum is so lucky to have both of you.

MaNaAk