substitute memory


Registered User
Jul 31, 2003
Blackpool, Lancs
Dad’s memory has got so poor that I have to accompany him on visits, be it the doctor or relatives or anywhere else. If someone asks him a question he either simply can’t remember or makes up an answer he thinks they’ll believe, often a long way from the truth. If he’s given instructions he’ll forget them in an instant – how do other people cope with these issues?

The demands this has placed upon my time mean that I am not able to work anymore. Is there anyone else who can provide this support that he needs? It strikes me that the only way to know about his present state of health or lifestyle is to spend regular time with him –I doubt Social services would be able to do this.

Should I just face up to the fact that whilst ever he is with us I am going to have to be his substitute memory or is there some support I could find somewhere that will enable me to get back into full-time employment?


Registered User
Nov 7, 2003
Hi Rob K

Yeh I can relate to your problem with being your dads substitute memory.

Until recently we were doing the same for my mum. If we went out anywhere and someone spoke to her or asked a question, she would give a very feasable answer - but of course unbeknown to the other person the answer was completely wrong! They would then say "isnt she doing well".Ahhh!!
Unfortunately, mum has now lost the art of being able to hold a conversation at all, so we tend to talk for her.

Mum is also at the stage where if you give her instructions she has no idea what you are asking her to do. We tend to try and make things very simple for her, ie if getting dressed we do one item at a time and try to get her to try for herself, but it is very time consuming and frustrating isnt it? Otherwise we do tend to just do things for her ourselves to save the hassle! Perhaps this is wrong, as everyone says you should keep encouraging her to do things herself, but sometimes its more upsetting for her to do that.

Im sorry to hear you have had to give up your job. Im not sure what help you could get in your area. We are lucky enough to have a day centre near by, and mum goes there each day til 3pm, so that means I can still work mornings and be back in time to pick her up for a few hours, before she goes home to my dad for the night.

I understand what you mean about social services not understanding your dads needs like you do. I think unless you spend time with the person there is no way you can understand their problems. Luckily, because mum has been going to the day centre regularly, they are pretty good now at knowing what she needs and being able to help her.

Perhaps if you give social services a ring they may know of local day centres or memory clinics that your dad could go to.

Good Luck


Registered User
Oct 16, 2003
Hi Rob

Have you contacted your local social services, when mum was finally diagnosed the specialist concerned gave us a contact name and number for a lovely lady at the Alzheimers help centre in our area, she in turn chatted to us at length about what and is available at different stages of mums illness, homecare, day centres, respite care, allowances etc. She also offered to help us with any forms that need filling out and generally went out of her way to be helpful. I am not naive enough to assume that it will be plain sailing from now on and have been told that sometimes its like banging your head against a brick wall (have experience of that!) but if you dont you will continue to struggle on your own.
Mum causes us some problems because as far as she is concerned she has no problems at all and like your dad can throw a proper tantrum when people try to help, her memory is non existent, but i have been assured that the people who in time will call either from home care or the social services are well clued up to all reactions from people with this illness.

Good Luck