To agree or disagree???


Registered User
Jan 9, 2008
Brentwood, Essex
Hi Guys..I have never written before although I have viewed and read all of your sad sad stories on several occassions, and my heart goes out to you all. My Name is Wendy and my dad who is 72is suffering from dementia. Reading through all the information on this site I am guessing that he has vascular dementia, although i have never heard mum mention it before (she attends with dad on his hospital/clinic appointments)About 5 years ago, dad suffered a stroke and whilst physically it hasnt left him with any problems, it, from what I can make out, triggered his dementia. Over the last few years we have all coped (dad included)relatively well all things considered, however over the last 3 months we have seen a considerable change. Whereas some days his memory was good and some were bad, most are bad now. Mum is dads main carer and I do wonder how on earth she copes some days, he follows her around all over the place, I think it makes him feel safe. What we have all found quite hard at this present time in his illness is the fact the he will insist that his home he is living in now (and has done for the past 40 years) is that of his childhood and that mum (his wife) is actually his late mother. Sometimes he even thinks that my house was his childhood home too, thankfully though I have not yet been his mother!! For some reason this is all that he dwells on its like its stuck there at the front of his memory. We fully understand that dad cannot help what he is saying but it is very frustrating trying to make him understand that he is wrong about what he is saying. I have mentioned to mum in the past that maybe for him and her it would be easier to agree with him and let him believe what he is thinking. However, mum says that she doesnt want to agree with him because she doesnt want him to forget who she really is or encourage him into believing what he is thinking is right, which i can sympathise with. We are all aware that at some point sooner or later, dad wont recognize any of us. So...I just wondered what you all thought and what approach you may have taken. Should we agree or disagree with him. Also, whilst im writing. I mentioned earlier that he wont sit down for long and wanders around the house after mum and looking at items he thinks that his mum bought (she's been gone 35 years and none of the items at home were left/bought by his mum). He wont sit down and read/look at the paper, do a simple puzzle, wordsearch etc. Any ideas for something simple that might keep him occupied or get him thinking. Or am I asking too much?? I look forward to hearing from anyone who can help, and Im sorry if i've waffled on for too long. Take care all, Wendy x


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Hi Wendy and welcome

it would be easier to agree with him
actually there is not much point in doing anything else. You can try, and try and try, but eventually, it is simply easier to agree and if necessary play along.
he wont sit down for long and wanders around the house after mum
this is common at certain stages. Sometimes medication can help, but that can be at the expense of movement or ability to do other things.
He wont sit down and read/look at the paper, do a simple puzzle, wordsearch etc. Any ideas for something simple that might keep him occupied or get him thinking. Or am I asking too much??
again, try things but it is in the nature of the condition that the ability to read/watch/listen is lost. It isn't true that you can help them "to use it so as not to lose it". The best you can do is to try and slow the process of loss.

Sorry, this sounds a bit dire.

Bottom line is to hope for the best, but be prepared for reality.

I'm sure that other members will be able to suggest things to try.

Sometimes trying these things puts too much pressure on the person and can cause behavioural consequences.

best wishes


Registered User
Aug 9, 2007
Hi Wendy

It is a difficult question that you ask and each of us will answer according to our circumstances.

My Mum has vascular dementia also so know a little of how you feel.

Unfortunately due to living alone and emergency surgery she was admitted to a nursing home fairly early.

My brother and ex SIL tended always to make her re-orient to their reality. This helped them but could be very upsetting for my brother. He was also upset that she tended to mistake him for Dad, but often this was her verbal skills at fault rather than her understanding.

For me, provided that she wasn't distressed by her reality I would join her in it but make excuses as for why her Mum, Aunt etc, hadn't come or why my late father hadn't called (I'm sure he would have phoned you if he could.) etc.

It prevented problems. Sometimes cahnging the subject can work, but it is difficult when seomthing is firmly entrenched in their mind and often no amount of reminding is going to sway them.

My advice would be to do that which gives each of you least stress. Use avoidance and distraction if you can.

It is not easy.


Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
Hi Wendy,

As hard as it is for your mother (and I do understand why she doesn't want to agree), I think it would be easier for everyone if you just play along. If your mother doesn't want to agree directly, perhaps she can ask questions like "What's your favourite meal that your mother makes?" or other questions like that which may divert your dad for a while.

As for things he can do now - I can't help. It's the attention span and memory problems which do us all in.

At least he sounds like he's reasonably happy, which is the most important thing.


Registered User
Jan 12, 2008
Hi Wendy

I'm having similar problems with my ma-in-law, who insists on calling me Bette or Betty. I nearly aways correct her, mainly because Betty, one of her neices, is a total cow and I resent her thinking I'm anything like her :) She has a couple of lovely neices and I wouldn't mind if she mistook me for them. She usually asks me if my name was Betty and I've changed it to Doreen, we have quite a few conversations about that.

She often wants to "go home", and, no matter how many times I tell her she is at home, won't believe me. I find it easiest to try and distract her with something else, like the dog or the cat, rather than trying to convince her she's wrong. Usually, when she's off in lala land, I just find it easiest to go along with her, she gets less upset and aggressive than if I try and tell her she's wrong. It can be quite amusing - a bit like having a conversation about imaginery fairies with a 4-year old.

I'm off to visit in her hospital tomorrow (she's in for assessment) and I'm now wondering where she'll think she is!


Registered User
Aug 20, 2006
It is pointless trying to argue. Someone with dementia is not open to reason or logic. It should also be remembered that they are totally convinced that they are right, and you will be just hammering your head against a brick wall if you try to say otherwise. It does not matter if their chains of reason make no sense - in the diconnected, jumbled world of dementia where random events, old memories and new, delusions of real and unreal, are just jumbled together and like a child trying to do a jigsaw, the pieces just get hammered together until they "fit", even though the result is a nonsense.

Arguing will just provoke anger and distress - understandable if you are living in your own world which those around you say doesn;t exist.

When my dad goes into his fantasy world, if we try to correct him, we just get called names or accused "calling me a liar" etc. You just hit that brick wall of "I know I am right and no-one can say otherwise".

The only way forward is to just agree, no matter how bizarre the story, or if agreeing involves risk then attempt to distract or make vague and non-commital responses.


Registered User
Nov 28, 2005

Your Mum seems to be coping with the same sort of situation as I am with my husband. If you look at the Life in the Day of ....thread (a sticky) you will see I have posted about my lovely D and his references to'home'. I do not always 'go along' with him - if he asks where are we, I usually tell him clearly and if he thinks its his childhood home I gently explain his parents are dead and they 'sold up'. He just listens and accepts.

So alot depends on the reaction to the truth. Sometimes he hears noises and I just agree. He sometimes sees two cats and a dog in the lounge - I just say 'no we only have one cat now - you must be dreaming!' - he seems to accept it.

He sometimes thinks I am his Mother! (Golly she would be 110 now). I just say no, I am Jan.. and try to explain about how old his Mum would be. This seems to work.

It is not easy, we all have to work out our own methods of handling this awful disease.

He wont sit down and read/look at the paper, do a simple puzzle, wordsearch etc. Any ideas for something simple that might keep him occupied or get him thinking

You may eventually learn this has been a subject of my posting since I joined. How do you get someone to settle to something?
I have not found the answer yet and doubt if I ever will).

I am sure you will get much helpful advice here on TP.
Best wishes Jan



Registered User
Feb 26, 2006
Hi Wendy, welcome

I can only endorse what Brucie says. Each one of us adopts a strategy that works in dealing with the many problems thrown up by this dreadful disease.

After 50 years of marriage Mary failed to recognise me, I asked her who she thought I was and she replied "My best friend". As the hurt subsided I was glad that I was her best friend. Hide your hurt and go with the flow.


Registered User
Jan 9, 2008
Brentwood, Essex
Hi guys, thanks for all your replies,I didnt expect to get so many so soon. Deep down I personally think its easier to agree with dad, but then again its easier for me as Im not living at home with him, but I fully understand why mum doesnt want to go down this route. I do however have a niggle that by agreeing with him when he is wrong I am somehow cheating him in someway and i feel that I have a duty to correct him.
I read what you said DickG about your wife,Mary and the fact she thinks you are her best friend, and i thought about what you had least if dad is thinking that mum is his mother he (in his mind) is with someone who he loves and cherishes. Mind you saying this, he does get awfully upset when he realises that both his parents actually passed away years ago. We have found that he gets very very emotional, is this something that is quite common? Thanks again for your help. Take care all. Wendy x


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
I think that is very common, and in fact is the most frequently quoted reasons for not correcting someone when they get confused about who or who is not dead. I don't think that honesty comes even close to outweighing kindness when it comes down to it. I will come down firmly on the side of lying if that means the person doesn't have to relive deaths over and over again. My own mother frequently referred to me by her sister's name and sometimes I would correct her and sometimes I wouldn't - it would depend on her mood. Sometimes it was clear it was simple confusion and sometimes it was more that she'd slipped in time. In the latter case correcting her caused more distress and achieved nothing.


Registered User
Oct 16, 2007
manchester, uk
Hi Wendy

Welcome to TP.

As other posts have said, with my Nanna we played along with her. I think out of everyone I was the one she forgot first, she thought I was one of her late sisters (her favorite). We were told at the begining to tell her she was wrong, but this just caused her more stress, so as I say we played along.

With regards to people passing in your dads eyes, that have infact passed for a number of years. I can relate to this, on a number of occasions when I went to see my Nanna she thought people had only just passed a day or two earlier. When infact they had passed more than 15 years ago. Therefore she was grieving for them all over again, yes it's hard but unfortunately there isn't much you can do about it.

I'm sorry your mother is finding this really hard, I hope she finds strength to help her through. I'm sure your dad loves her to peaces just as he must have done his own mother.

Take Care


Registered User
Jan 9, 2008
Brentwood, Essex
"With regards to people passing in your dads eyes, that have infact passed for a number of years. I can relate to this, on a number of occasions when I went to see my Nanna she thought people had only just passed a day or two earlier. When infact they had passed more than 15 years ago. Therefore she was grieving for them all over again, yes it's hard but unfortunately there isn't much you can do about it."

Hi Clare, Yes he thinks they have only recently passed away. We actually think that his recent demise was as a result of going to my aunts funeral. We didnt imagine that it would have any effect on him, but it seems now that he thinks that he was attending his own mothers funeral. Like your nan, we have suggested that it seems that he is grieving over and over for his mother and father (but not as much) This must be so distressing for him and I wish we could help him. Thanks again for your reply. Take care and best wishes. Wendy x


Registered User
Aug 9, 2005
I do however have a niggle that by agreeing with him when he is wrong I am somehow cheating him in someway and i feel that I have a duty to correct him.

2 he does get awfully upset when he realises that both his parents actually passed away years ago. Wendy x

Dear Wendy,
I SO understand how you feel. For a long time after Mum's diagnosis I felt much the same way. It seems somehow to be disloyal and demeaning to the parent we love and respect to go along with what you KNOW is wrong or incorrect. Plus our parents taught us to "tell the tuth" and it seems to go against their teachings in a very disrespectful way if we don't do that.

Second part of quote: It is exactly for this reason (among many others) that I (and most people on TP) have learnt that we cannot insist on our reality because it is too painful and too hard in many cases on our beloved patient. Just imagine learning, as if for the first time, over and over again, that some-one you love dearly has died. How agonising - and why is it necessary??

We can say "Oh but he (she) already knew his parents (spouse, child, etc.) is dead." But the sad truth of dementia is that the person no longer KNOWS this. He/she might remember, sometimes. Or she/he might have to hear the news as if for the first time each time they are told it. How horrific!

The other part of all this is that the person with dementia is not doing this deliberately or to be obstructive. They TRULY believe what they think is right. This can range from muddles with dates, times and places (like my Mum) to people "seeing" and / or "hearing" things that are just not there.

It usually does no good at all to try and correct them - they know that what they see/hear/remember is RIGHT!! :eek:

I think you and your family will probably find that you have to look at "truth" in a whole new way. It is no longer about us telling the sufferer the truth; it is now about accepting that the sufferer's truth is (often) no longer the same as our's, and accepting that we need to enter the sufferer's world.

Having said that, each case is different. I can sometimes tell my Mum she's mistaken (for example: she often thinks I was around when she was a child and therefore I knew her childhood friends. I can remind her that I wasn't born then so I don't know these people, and she will accept it.).

At other times, Mum has a version of something that happened that is totally untrue and "nothing and nobody" can get her to see it any other way. (She is convinced we wouldn't let her stay with Dad when he died. This is very wrong - and hurtful to us - but she is convinced it is the truth and won't believe otherwise.)

Only you know what your Dad can or cannot deal with. The best guide seems to be:
"How does it help DAD to be told the real truth?"
This must take the place of us believing that we must always tell the "truth". Very hard to do - but you will be surprised how easy it becomes after a while!! :eek:

I wish you and your Mum and your family the best possible journey on this long and difficult road we all face.
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Registered User
Apr 15, 2007
Dear Wendy,

I truly sympathise with your poor mum and can well understand her desire to keep your dads memories accurate. Sadly, that is not possible at times. My own mum quite often believes that her mum is still alive and often calls me mum I just go along with her. Then at times she thinks her mum has just died and wants to go to the funeral. I really think that sufferers have such a difficult time trying to make sense of their world that they go back in time to a place where they felt so safe and that is with their mothers. I know it is very hard on your mum after all she is his wife, your dad seems content to be with your mum so he must feel safe with her this in it's self is a good thing. Some sufferers don't want to have anything to do with their spouse.

Best Wishes, Taffy.


Registered User
Jan 9, 2008
Brentwood, Essex
Thanks again for your replies. I can see that in the coming weeks/months/years you will all offer your support and advice and for that I am very grateful. I spoke to mum earlier, she had a bad day yesterday with dad, which followed into the night. They had both been watching a family video together, which I think must have triggered something in his head. He turned to mum and questioned who she was. He wouldnt believe it when mum said she was his wife he then jumped out of bed and went down stairs. When he eventually came back up again he studied mum and again insisted that she wasnt who she said she was and that he had been down stairs to call the police. Dad thought that mum was some sort of imposter/intruder. He hadn't phoned the police, although he did tell mum the number which he got correct (999) so I guess he may have had some doubts, either that or he couldnt locate the phone, he has tried answering the remote control in the past :). Anyway, after some time mum managed to settle him back down again but she knew he was laying awake thinking about things, maybe trying to make some sense of it, if that is possible. This morning he has said nothing of the night before, probably forgotten.
Thanks for listening.
Take care all Wendy x


Registered User
Jan 15, 2008
Oh, Wendy

What a dreadful situation you are in and your Mum must have been so upset by what happened last night and over the last few years that your Dad has gone into decline.

My own Mum also has vascular dementia but retains much more memory than your dear old Dad - she started to have problems about two years ago. I see we are in for a rocky ride.

She has SEVERE issues with money, not in the way of spending too much (in fact, she could spend more money on herself!) but in understanding it and managing it. Today, for example, she demonstrated a total inability to grasp the concept of how many bank accounts she has (two), how much is in each of them, how much money she needs to live on and even how much her pension is per week.

However, she trusts me to help her so that's OK I guess. Have you had these sorts of problems with your Dad?

Regarding keeping your Dad happy and "occupied", I've been reading up on this and apparently people with dementia respond really well to music and are nearly always relaxed when focusing on...I don't know, whatever floats their boat: Nat King Cole, Brahms, Rossini you name it! I know that my Mum adores music and this really helps her.

Why don't you give it a try? Anyway, big hugs to you!


Registered User
Jan 9, 2008
Brentwood, Essex
Hi Susan, sorry to hear about your mum. To be honest the money issue hasnt been too bad with dad. There have been a few times when he has raised the issue. Mum has had control of the finances for some time now and dad seemed to accept this. Initially his only real issue was the fact that mum wasnt left with any money troubles and that she was provided for as he had planned many years ago, he worried about this and would often go over and over and over again on the subject. Once we had explained to him that nothing would change and that mum was well catered for he seemed to accept it (of course this was a few years ago now). I think initially we used his stroke and the mental ability he was left with (which looking back now wasnt too bad) as a reason for us changing bank accounts etc, probably never even realising ourselves at the time what was to come. Looking back, I think that since dad had his stroke he probably hasnt actually carried any money about his person, and again overtime, I think that he has just accepted it as normal. But I do sympathise with you and understand fully how difficult it is trying to explain things and trying to make it as simple as possible for them to understand, sometimes when you dont fully understand yourself!!:) I do wish you, your mum and your family well. Take care of yourself. Wendy x


Registered User
Jan 9, 2008
Brentwood, Essex
OMG.:eek:...Dad went wandering today and didnt come back!! We did eventually find him thank goodness, some good samaritan had taken him to the police station. We were so relieved we forgot to ask any questions on how he came to be found. Between him leaving home and him returning remains a mystery!! Dear ole Dad, wet through and confused about where he was and who we are!! What a spiteful and nasty illness this is!! This is the first time he has not been able to get back again when he has been out. I think that he has declined even more since my first posting. It seems everyday turns up something new at the moment. Take care all, thanks again for listening. Wendy x

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hello Wendy
I`m glad your father was helped to get home.

Does he have identification on him? When my husband got lost, the police said it saves them hours of work if people are easily identified.

In addition to an ID card in his wallet, I have had a pet ID disc made and put it on his key ring. It carries his name and home phone number, and the fact he is diabetic and has Alzheimers. It was a tip from Norah on TP and I shall be forever grateful.


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Wendy, so glad your dad was found safe and well. I hope he has no after-effects from his soaking.

I know how frightening it is when someone goes missing, you must be so relieved.