Parents in denial and angry with me

magasala

Registered User
Nov 2, 2023
13
0
Hello everyone. I've been reading this forum for a while now, and it has been comforting. For the past couple of years, I’ve been noticing that my mum (88 years old) is showing signs of dementia. She asks the same questions over and over again, forgets what she just ate, what she did the day before etc. During the last couple of years my father has taken over more and more tasks at home. Mum doesn't do much around the house anymore. I brought up my concern about my mother's memory problems a year ago. My mother dismissed it, my father initially said he would think about it, but then, a few days later, told me I was utterly wrong. I was not a doctor and shouldn't pretend to be one, he said. I was shocked by the harsh response and decided not to mention it again. 12 months have passed since then, I have been visiting my parents every week and they were and are doing okay, except that my father is now quite sick cancer, and my mother's memory problems are even worse. Some weeks ago, I spent a few days with them away on holiday, and that made me realize that my mother's state is worse than I thought. I could also tell that my father noticed her forgetfulness as well as other behavioral changes. For instance she talks really bad about a lot of people. So I thought, that now my father must admit that something is not right with her. But no! Now they’ve told my brother, that I’m entirely wrong, that I made up the whole thing, and they haven’t contacted me for 1 1/2 months. Occasionally I phone my father, but he is quite cold. I’m devastated and heartbroken as my father is dying from cancer and they both deny anything is wrong with my mother and blames me for pointing it out. I don’t know what to do or say to them. My relationship with them has never been very warm, they have been quite selfish parents in many ways, but I’m very shocked that they seem to want to ‘terminate’ our relationship like this. Has anyone experienced such a brutal reaction?
 

northumbrian_k

Volunteer Host
Mar 2, 2017
4,291
0
Newcastle
Hi @magasala and welcome to Dementia Support Forum our friendly and supportive community of people who have experience of many aspects of dementia. I am sorry to hear about your parents. Partners of people with dementia-like symptoms are sometimes reluctant to acknowledge this either to themselves or others. There may be many reasons for this but fear of what may lie ahead is possibly a factor. Family members, like yourself, who try to help can feel shut out. I don't have experience of this myself but others here will have and may be able to suggest how to go about regaining your father's trust in order to get help for your mother. If you aren't able to do this, the situation will eventually become unsustainable as your father finds that he can no longer cope. Unfortunately it sometimes needs a crisis to develop before a person will acknowledge their need for support.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
81,180
0
Kent
I agree with @northumbrian_k @magasala Your parents may be unable to bear the truth and their behaviour is the only way they can protect themselves.

I would just tell them you will respect their views but if ever they need you you will be there for them.
 

Gosling

Volunteer Host
Aug 2, 2022
1,529
0
South West UK
Hello @magasala and welcome to this friendly and supportive forum from me too.

I am so sorry to read of your parent's situation. You have already had sound replies already, and yes sadly, refusing to admit there is a problem is so common, and they are both just keeping their own little 'status quo' going for as long as they can. It possibly will take some sort of crisis to happen before some sort of acceptance kicks in.
Wishing you strength.
 

Jaded'n'faded

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
5,218
0
High Peak
If this was me... I would write a letter to your father expressing your concerns. Make a bullet list with examples of all the changes you (and others) have noticed with your mum and tell him how worried you are. Say also that as he is so ill himself, he needs help to look after your mum and offer to help him arrange this. People to help around the house - gardener, cleaner, etc, or someone to sit with your mum while he attends his own appointments, etc, might be accepted more easily than 'carers'. I would acknowledge his anger but point out your only concerns are for his and your mum's welfare and you cannot bear to see them both struggling.

Denial, both from the person with dementia and often from their spouse too, is not uncommon and is extremely difficult to deal with. I'm sure your father tells everyone that everything is fine and they don't need help. But this is a pride thing and a refusal to accept what is really happening is not helping anyone. You know your parents best so you will know the right words/phrases to use but maybe you can say you want to make sure help/assistance is in place for your mum, in case anything happens suddenly to your father. (I don't know how his cancer affects him or whether it will kill him or not...) You might also tell him that unless these things are sorted out now, when a crisis occurs (which it certainly will) Social Services will take over - would he want that or prefer to 'keep it in the family'? I'm guessing he won't want the former!

He may come to his senses and he may not. Again, you might want to make up a story about another old couple in a similar position (colleague or friend's parent perhaps?) and say what happened to them because they didn't have plans in place. Scare tactics in other words!

In the end, all you can do is offer your help - the rest is up to him. But apart from that, you probably need to step back and let them get on with it. Sometimes it takes a big crisis (your mum falling and ending up in hospital or him having to go into hospital) for people to admit to their problems.

What does seem clear is that your dad is in no fit state to look after your mum. Memory problems are just the start - how would he cope with incontinence, being up all night, aggression, etc, etc?
 

Violet Jane

Registered User
Aug 23, 2021
1,938
0
Your father is dying. I would work on trying to spend quality time with him without talking about your mother's dementia. He's currently unable to take on board that your mother might have dementia, which is perhaps unsurprising given that he is coming to terms with his own death. It will probably take a crisis before your father will accept help or any sort of intervention.
 

magasala

Registered User
Nov 2, 2023
13
0
Hi @magasala and welcome to Dementia Support Forum our friendly and supportive community of people who have experience of many aspects of dementia. I am sorry to hear about your parents. Partners of people with dementia-like symptoms are sometimes reluctant to acknowledge this either to themselves or others. There may be many reasons for this but fear of what may lie ahead is possibly a factor. Family members, like yourself, who try to help can feel shut out. I don't have experience of this myself but others here will have and may be able to suggest how to go about regaining your father's trust in order to get help for your mother. If you aren't able to do this, the situation will eventually become unsustainable as your father finds that he can no longer cope. Unfortunately it sometimes needs a crisis to develop before a person will acknowledge their need for support.
Thank you very much for your reply. I guess the only way forward is for me to respect their being in denial, regardless of my worries about their situation. It's just so frustrating not being allowed to help them.
 

magasala

Registered User
Nov 2, 2023
13
0
Your father is dying. I would work on trying to spend quality time with him without talking about your mother's dementia. He's currently unable to take on board that your mother might have dementia, which is perhaps unsurprising given that he is coming to terms with his own death. It will probably take a crisis before your father will accept help or any sort of intervention.
Thank you for this. I guess you're right. Maybe it's all too much for him to handle and take in. And that's why he refuses to see it.
 

magasala

Registered User
Nov 2, 2023
13
0
If this was me... I would write a letter to your father expressing your concerns. Make a bullet list with examples of all the changes you (and others) have noticed with your mum and tell him how worried you are. Say also that as he is so ill himself, he needs help to look after your mum and offer to help him arrange this. People to help around the house - gardener, cleaner, etc, or someone to sit with your mum while he attends his own appointments, etc, might be accepted more easily than 'carers'. I would acknowledge his anger but point out your only concerns are for his and your mum's welfare and you cannot bear to see them both struggling.

Denial, both from the person with dementia and often from their spouse too, is not uncommon and is extremely difficult to deal with. I'm sure your father tells everyone that everything is fine and they don't need help. But this is a pride thing and a refusal to accept what is really happening is not helping anyone. You know your parents best so you will know the right words/phrases to use but maybe you can say you want to make sure help/assistance is in place for your mum, in case anything happens suddenly to your father. (I don't know how his cancer affects him or whether it will kill him or not...) You might also tell him that unless these things are sorted out now, when a crisis occurs (which it certainly will) Social Services will take over - would he want that or prefer to 'keep it in the family'? I'm guessing he won't want the former!

He may come to his senses and he may not. Again, you might want to make up a story about another old couple in a similar position (colleague or friend's parent perhaps?) and say what happened to them because they didn't have plans in place. Scare tactics in other words!

In the end, all you can do is offer your help - the rest is up to him. But apart from that, you probably need to step back and let them get on with it. Sometimes it takes a big crisis (your mum falling and ending up in hospital or him having to go into hospital) for people to admit to their problems.

What does seem clear is that your dad is in no fit state to look after your mum. Memory problems are just the start - how would he cope with incontinence, being up all night, aggression, etc, etc?
Thank you for your reply. A year ago I tried to talk to my father about my mothers symptoms. He flat out rejected that anything was wrong. When I tried to talk to him about potential problems in the future, and that it might be good to be prepared, he dismissed it as well: No crisis will ever occur, my mother is fine and will be fine, also in the future. I also tried talking about other older couples. It didn't work either. So I guess my only option is to step back and be available, in case they need me at some point.
 

magasala

Registered User
Nov 2, 2023
13
0
Hello @magasala and welcome to this friendly and supportive forum from me too.

I am so sorry to read of your parent's situation. You have already had sound replies already, and yes sadly, refusing to admit there is a problem is so common, and they are both just keeping their own little 'status quo' going for as long as they can. It possibly will take some sort of crisis to happen before some sort of acceptance kicks in.
Wishing you strength.
Thanks a lot for your kind words.
 

Palerider

Registered User
Aug 9, 2015
4,150
0
56
North West
I just wonder if this may help a little as the grief cycle is applicable to any scenarios where there is significant change. I don't often post this on here as it can be misinterpreted as being only relevant if someone dies, this of course is not true, it is relevant for any change that has a significant impact on someone's life. The Kubler-Ross cycle of grief, the first hurdle is denial -this can take longer than many people expect and can be difficult to bridge. My dad found it very difficult to get past the denial stage and so did my mum as well, mum never really admitted her dementia until after my dad had passed and one day she spoke about it with me -to my surprise.
grief-cycle-1.jpg
 

magasala

Registered User
Nov 2, 2023
13
0
Thanks a lot. I haven't thought about it this way, that denial can be so strong. I hope it will pass, it's frustrating that we're at the moment living in totally different realities.
 

JoannePat

Registered User
Jan 24, 2019
178
0
Hi @magasala I have read through the answers and I know you have too and it is never an easy time. When you see the decline of one or both of your parents and they are in denial it is heart breaking, its almost like watching a child walk into the middle of the road.

I know you can't ignore it but what you can do is just pop in and out, call like nothing has happened (I also had a strained relationship over many years with my parents).

You could also play the shopping card (used so often by me), I'm going so and so do you want me to pick anything up, it a great door opener/conversation starter.

Lots of hugs to you and your family

Joanne x
 

Ali1234

Registered User
Oct 19, 2023
44
0
My situation has certain similarities to yours in that my dad didn't see what was happening for a long time. I spoke to their gp and got mum a memory clinic appointment and she refused to go. He was doing everything in the house and had gradually been taking over all mum's jobs for a while. But they were ok with that. I helped when I could. He tended to focus on my mum's physical limitations. But as my mum got worse he did accept that something was wrong until in the end they were both at the point of total collapse and social services had to sort out a placement for my mum as they were both in danger. My dad was due ongoing cancer treatment which he knew put him in bed for 3 three days at a time last year previously so he wouldn't be able to look after my mum. The memory clinic are coming to the home next week. At 89 both of my parents are quite frail now. I hope you are able to reconcile with your father.
 

magasala

Registered User
Nov 2, 2023
13
0
Hello. Thank you very much for sharing your story. I noticed what you said: "They were ok with that". I think I have to accept that, for the time being, my parents feel that they are okay. I just worry about the future. But maybe, as the situation with your parents shows, when my parents can't cope anymore, it will be obvious, and the doctor and social services will help sorting things out. I have reconciled with my father. We don't talk about my mother, though. I have decided to back off for now. I hope your parents will get the help they need.
 

magasala

Registered User
Nov 2, 2023
13
0
Hi @magasala I have read through the answers and I know you have too and it is never an easy time. When you see the decline of one or both of your parents and they are in denial it is heart breaking, its almost like watching a child walk into the middle of the road.

I know you can't ignore it but what you can do is just pop in and out, call like nothing has happened (I also had a strained relationship over many years with my parents).

You could also play the shopping card (used so often by me), I'm going so and so do you want me to pick anything up, it a great door opener/conversation starter.

Lots of hugs to you and your family

Joanne x
Thanks Joanne for your kind remarks. I have reconciled with my parents now. I have decided to be "in the background" for now, letting them be in charge. That's what they really want. They don't want to think or talk about old age, sickness etc., but want to pretend/feel that their current situation more or less is the same as it has always been. I don't think it will be possible to talk to them before the situation gets worse. Thanks again.
 

leny connery

Registered User
Nov 13, 2022
234
0
Hello everyone. I've been reading this forum for a while now, and it has been comforting. For the past couple of years, I’ve been noticing that my mum (88 years old) is showing signs of dementia. She asks the same questions over and over again, forgets what she just ate, what she did the day before etc. During the last couple of years my father has taken over more and more tasks at home. Mum doesn't do much around the house anymore. I brought up my concern about my mother's memory problems a year ago. My mother dismissed it, my father initially said he would think about it, but then, a few days later, told me I was utterly wrong. I was not a doctor and shouldn't pretend to be one, he said. I was shocked by the harsh response and decided not to mention it again. 12 months have passed since then, I have been visiting my parents every week and they were and are doing okay, except that my father is now quite sick cancer, and my mother's memory problems are even worse. Some weeks ago, I spent a few days with them away on holiday, and that made me realize that my mother's state is worse than I thought. I could also tell that my father noticed her forgetfulness as well as other behavioral changes. For instance she talks really bad about a lot of people. So I thought, that now my father must admit that something is not right with her. But no! Now they’ve told my brother, that I’m entirely wrong, that I made up the whole thing, and they haven’t contacted me for 1 1/2 months. Occasionally I phone my father, but he is quite cold. I’m devastated and heartbroken as my father is dying from cancer and they both deny anything is wrong with my mother and blames me for pointing it out. I don’t know what to do or say to them. My relationship with them has never been very warm, they have been quite selfish parents in many ways, but I’m very shocked that they seem to want to ‘terminate’ our relationship like this. Has anyone experienced such a brutal reaction?
 

leny connery

Registered User
Nov 13, 2022
234
0
denial stems from fear. it is frightening to lose your mind. my husband refused for a long time to get his condition diagnosed. Yet in the case of your dad, it is a harsh reaction to take it out on you. a bit like shooting the bearer of bad news really. Do not take it too badly, just be there for them. tell them you love them and wa only trying to help. maybe apologise. what else can you do? if I may say, just do not give trying to be there for tmen. let us hope he will come round, You are good. big hugs. stay strong
 

magasala

Registered User
Nov 2, 2023
13
0
Helllo. Yes, I feel exactly like you said, that my father is shooting the messenger. I'm better now, trying not to worry too much about the future. But it's difficult. I have reconciled with them, but we don't talk about the issue. They prefer it that way, maybe, as you say, out of fear. Thank you for sharing, and kind regards to you and your husband.
 

Jaded'n'faded

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
5,218
0
High Peak
I'm glad you've reached some sort of reconciliation with your parents, as long as you don't mention the elephant in the room...

Although they won't accept organised help right now, there's nothing to stop you looking into care homes in the area and checking out what's available should your mum need to go into care or whether they offer respite care. It's hard to prepare for a crisis when you don't know what it will be or when it will happen but this is something you can do now that will be useful for the future.

Believe me, trying to find a care home when an emergency happens is not easy so any research you do now will help.