warring family


Registered User
Jun 12, 2007
hi everyone. My dad was diagnosed only a few months ago, though we had our suspicions for quite a long time before that. when a family member finally persuaded him to go to the doctor, because of course there was the denial that he had anything wrong with him, it was also discovered that he has cancer, so he has those care needs too, as it is advanced and not curable. he is in a lovely care home with super staff, as none of our big family were in the postion to look after him at home. although he is still married to my mother, they spilt up many years ago due to him having an affair. he made a life with the other lady, though eventually he and mum were able to be freinds, and in the last three years since his partner died, he and my mum had come to an arrangement as freinds, and although mum resisted his wishes to move back in with her, they have spent time together, gone shopping, a few holidays, he helped with gardening and so on.
he also ended up in hospital with some kind of blood clot on his brain which did not help, though he luckily recovered his faculties after an operation. He talks a bit about things in the last three years, and of course talks about thngs like his national service days and so on, and events from when he was in his thirties, bit all the years he was with the other lady he does not remember, and can't really remember the house he lived in the last three years, other than as an address now and then when reminded. he and mum never divorced, so of course he refers to her as his wife and says how much he loves her. he has had some bad days and got a bit angry now and then and wants to know how come mum can live in the family home, and he has to live in the care home, and why can't he go and live there.
my policy is to just gently remind him that him and mum had not been living together for some years because they spilt up, and also that mum would be ill if she had to look after him if he got ill, and it calms him down, this only happens occasionally at the moment, most of the time he says how happy and lucky he is to be in a nice place. we have been sharing visiting him, and my mum has chosen to visit him a couple of times a week, though she did say if it was nearer to her she would go every other day(she does not drive, and it is 17 miles away fromher home), so she is feeling settled now because he is being looked after.
one of my siblings has the power of attorney thing, and in the major decisions about where dad went to live, and treatment for his other conditions we agreed no problem, but more recently we have fallen out big time about how to treat dad and deal with certain issues.
i believe in treating him gently and calmly, and the truth about things in ways he can handle it. i don't see the point of constantly reminding him of thnigs he has forgotten if it agitates him, it is only useful if it is necesary to put somthing in to perpsective, as in 'yes dad, you and mum are still married, yes dad you do both care about each other, dad, you did not go back to the family home because you were not living there when you were taken ill, you and mum split up years ago and you were living at ........ address and just visited mum most days.' Is it wrong of me to not remind him about the years he spent living with someone else when he does not remember it and it serves no purpose? this is something now causing an arguement, because the other day i got there and he wanted to buy a wedding ring. I was a bit taken aback because he never had a wedding ring in the past. then it turned out that he is getting agitated because people keep asking about if he is married (mainly other residents), and the other men in there wear wedding rings.
having to think fast and to try and manage the situation the best i could, i did tell him that he never used to wear a wedding ring, and that wearing one won't stop some people asking him, because they will still ask. i also said I was not sure how mum would feel about it after all this time, and remember that they have been seperated for years. then i said, would it make you feel better if we get you a signet ring rather than a wedding band and you could wear it on your wedding finger if you like, and perhaps mum would be ok with that. So he was happy with that idea. I spoke to my mum and she was perfectly ok about it, and slightly amused, as she said he would never have worn a ring before, AND she understood why he was getting agitated and so on.
out of courtesy i told the rest of the family what had happened and then got a huge text critising me, saying i was allowing him to live in a fantasy world, and that he should be making a new life not living in the past ( this from the same sibling who told me a few weeks ago that taking him to a service at his own place of worship was a bad idea because he should be cutting all ties with the past).
things now getting very heated.
So, is it wrong to do something that will help settle him and feel happier? We all know the truth of the past, and if he gets ideas about why can't he live with mum, he can be told why with enough information to keep him on track. We don't know how long he has left, and I did think that as a family we had agreed to make these months a happy time as possible. in one lucid moment the week we moved him from the hospital to the care home, he looked at me and said, I know I am dying, but i don't want it to be morbid, i just want ot enjoy thinsh that i can, like we are doing now - we were eating a nice pub lunch at the time after a stroll through a park - and that is what i though we were all on board with. Yet the text i got about dad and why it was fuelling a fantasy, was filled with all the negative things he has said and done. I know that myself and some of my other siblings and my mum have had visits where we have been laughing out loud with dad, and seeing him enjoy things as simple as coffee and cake at a cafe is a good experience.
Did I make a wrong decision about the ring?

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hi Christa,

If your dad, suffering cancer and Alzheimers wants to live in a fantasy world only a stone would stop him.

I think your sister is bitter about the past, and it isn`t for me to judge, as she may have good reason, but I would much prefer the actions you are taking, than hers.

You do as your conscience tells you. As long as your mother isn`t being upset by what you do, I really don`t think you have anyone else to answer to. He never stopped being your father, good or bad, and you are being very kind to him. It is to your credit.

Love xx


Registered User
Mar 20, 2007
Hi Christa

I think you are doing the best thing for your Dad, I agree with Nada and you should continue.
We all like to talk about past events and happier times, they make us laugh, which is good medicine, for everyone.
Perhaps your siblings want to punish your Dad for some reason.
My Mum, lives with us, she never talks about BAD times and I would never provoke a conversation that I knew would upset her. What is to be gained from that.

I hope you continue to have some good times with your Dad and that you can convince your siblings to be kinder, after all he is thier Dad too.:)

Take Care
Janetruth x


Registered User
May 16, 2007
Hi Christa, I too agree with everyone else in saying your handling of this situation is better in the long run.

I've been reminded recently myself that constantly telling my mum what she's doing wrong or what she's forgotten, always being negative is not helpful and i'm trying my best to put a more positive approach into practise.

As our loved ones slip away from us the only things we are left with are our memories of them, good and bad so we should try and make the last ones as good as possible :)
take care
Ann x


Registered User
Dec 1, 2006
Hello Christa, I'd say that what you are doing is fine; trying to find a practical way through a forest of uncertainties. It's more relevant what your mum thinks than what your siblings think, I can't help feeling, and if she is OK about the ring then that should be a big factor in how things progress. If she forgives and understands your dad's situation then I reckon that is more significant than what the siblings think. Love Deborah


Registered User
Sep 10, 2005
Hello Christa

Welcome to Talking Point!

I agree with the others and think you are doing the right thing. You sound very empathic and supportive towards your dad. As long as your mum is happy with your approach (re: the ring) then that's fine too. It's amazing what conflicts arise within families when dementia rears its ugly head. You're doing a good job. Keep posting. :)


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Hi Christa

Yes, you did the right thing.

Your dad has so much to contend with; if wearing a ring makes him happy, here is absolutely no reason why not.

He and your mum are friends, she visits him, and if she does mind your dad wearing the ring, your sister has no right to criticise.Just carry on doing what you are doing, keeping your dad as happy as possible. It's all you can do for him now.



Registered User
Aug 3, 2006
Hi Christa,

I don't think I have Alzheimer's but my wife has. I do however have Oldtimer's as has been mentioned on here before.

As a well known Irishman said "Youth was wasted on the young" you have to be an oldtimer to understand that.

What is oldtimers? It normaly hits you in your 70's and sometimes at 65, when your made to feel you have little or nothing to offer or look forward to, so you bore the younger ones with tales of your past and happier times.

The difference between it and Alz is they are back in time and in the case of my wife she's now a baby! I pamper, cuddle and dote on her as you would a darling child. She enjoys her baby bottle with fruit juices a number of times a day.

This is a woman who would not eat or drink, was bedridden, had to have morphine for her pain from bad preasure sores. That was three and a half years ago.

You are doing the right thing by your dad, his memory will drift back and forth as if in a peasoup of a fog. Try and go with the flow.
I found it best to join my wife in her world. EG about eight years ago she was very upset, dashing around trying to dress herself:
"What's wrong sweetheart?" Almost crying she replied:
"I'll be late for school!"
"I'll have a word with the Headmaster to explain" with that she calmed down.
Sorry if it's long winded but I hope it helps. Padraig


Registered User
Mar 12, 2005
West Sussex
christa said:
then got a huge text critising me, saying i was allowing him to live in a fantasy world, and that he should be making a new life not living in the past ( this from the same sibling who told me a few weeks ago that taking him to a service at his own place of worship was a bad idea because he should be cutting all ties with the past).
Hello Christa

Your sister needs to understand that your Dad is not capable of either making a new life or cutting all ties with the past.

His illness means him living in the moment, in his own reality, he has no control over how he thinks or feels.

I think you and your Mum are fantastic to have dealt so well with the situation, all credit to you both.

My Mum has AD and we found out for ourselves that going along with her, unless it is a life-threatening situation is the kindest and simplest way for all of us.

If your sister either can't or won't understand, then so be it, don't let her try to make life more difficult for you.

Take care.



Registered User
Aug 9, 2005
[QUOTE=Grannie G]If your dad, suffering cancer and Alzheimers wants to live in a fantasy world only a stone would stop him.

I think your sister is bitter about the past, and it isn`t for me to judge, as she may have good reason, but I would much prefer the actions you are taking, than hers.

Dear Christa,

Isn't it the most awful disease? As if it isn't bad enough that the sufferer has to endure it, we (Carers and family) have to struggle with all the issues as well.

Sylvia sounds right to me. I expect there are many issues from the time when your M&D separated and your Dad was living with the other lady, and your sister has bitter feelings about this.

Could you wait until your own feelings are more settled (naturally you are upset by her text)? Then text her saying you understand her feelings about all the past issues, but that you are still going to do what you can to make your Dad's time left as pleasant as possible. This will include getting him the ring.

I know how much harder this is to do than to say! When my M&D were moving into the NH, my sister suddenly decided to "take over" arrangements and bossed the socks off the rest of us!! As she had less to do with M&D up to that time than my other sister and I, we were naturally miffed! It took a while to sort out.

In hindsight I can see that it was her anxiety that made her act in that way. I think your sister too is only acting from anxiety - altho' she may not recognise this!

I guess what I'm really saying is, you are absolutely RIGHT in what you are doing with your Dad. But do try not to let your sister get you sucked into a huge argument with her - families need each other at times like this.

Some people take a LONG time to understand the realities of this dreaded disease - even my dear sister (mentioned above!) still thought it would be a good idea to buy my Mum a computer so she could get on the internet!! (My Mum is 85 and used a computer once about twenty five years ago!!) :eek:

Take care of yourself and your Dad. You are doing a GREAT job!


Registered User
Jun 12, 2007
thank you

What a lovely group of people you are, I feel so much better with seeing how other people have had a similar approach to mine. I feel like most of what I have been trying to do with Dad has been instinctive, but also I like to think how I would like people to treat me if I was in the same situation as my dad. Today we had a lovely day, as he is still able to take manage going out for a while, though I have noticed he gets tired very easily now, though not sure if it is the AD or the cancer.
I took him to the Sunday morning service of worship at his own place of worship (even though I have a different religion to my dad, I figure out God is not going to mind). We met up with mum there, and then joined one of my sisters, her partner and my maternal grandmother (91 this week!) for sunday lunch at a restaurant. Dad was so happy. I started a kind of visitors book for him that we all write in when we have been to see him and or taken him out, as he gets in a muddle as to whether people have been to see him. At the moment he can still work out a strategy to discover what day it is by using notes and the TV guide, and he loves reading back in the book to remind him what we did. As I left, he was sitting quietly reading through it.
I will take the advice to try later to sort out the problem with my sibling. I think some of it is definately to do with unresolved issues from the past with my dad. I figured out a long time ago that most parents make a muck up at some point with their kids, I certainly was not a perfect mother, and I decided to let go of any old hurts I had over the less nice memories of childhood, and remember that my dad DID do the besy he knew how to, and that is what counts.
I put in his father's day card
"Thanks for taking me sledging, flying kites with me, teaching me to ride a bike, teaching me to swim in the sea, and lovely holidays in Cornwall".

Many blessings to you all, and many more thanks.