Help! My Dad thinks I am his wife!

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My dad came to live with us (myself, my husband & 23 yr old son) 5 months ago, after my mom passed away. He is 84 and in mid to late stage of AD. The last 6 weeks or so, my dad slips into a delusion in which he thinks I am his wife. This usually happens in the evening, during his Sundowning period. Try as we might, we cannot get him to understand that I am his daughter. He thinks this is "our" home and that my husband and son are visitors. Usually around 9pm, he starts trying to kick them out. He gets very agitated when we try to explain that we all live here. He accuses me of taking in boarders without asking him first. When I've tried to explain who we all are, he will sometimes think that my husband is my first husband but I have divorced him and am now with married to him. He can't understand why I would welcome my ex into our home. He gets mad at me when I won't go to bed with him or gets up several times to see why I haven't come to bed yet. We have even had a few nights where he actually cries because he thinks I am either mad at him or sleeping with another man. My husband has been a good sport about this, sometimes sitting out in the garage until after Dad has fallen asleep. But it is now cold out and I don't expect my husband to give up his home in order to keep Dad calm. My son has also been very good to his grandpa, but it is hurtful when he says mean things to them and acts as though he has never seen them in his life. They understand that this is the illness, but it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt them. I am no longer bothered by the fact that Dad doesn't recognize me. I can accept that he doesn't know I'm his daughter. And if he thought I were a nurse or his sister or mother, I could play along. But we are at a loss as to how to handle this. We cannot live in his reality and play into this storyline! This is definitely not one of the things that any of us anticipated having to deal with. Has anyone else had this problem? Any suggestions for us?

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When I saw an email to notify me that someone had added a comment to this post, I had to stop and go back and read it through again. November 2012 (when I originally wrote the post) seems so long ago..........

Jet200, I think you would be doing the right thing by trying to get the appropriate level of care that each of them needs. It may be very difficult for them at first but it will be even more difficult for your dad to heal properly and get the rest he needs while coping with the constant stress of your mom's confusion.

I lived about 100 miles from my parents before my mom passed and dad came to live with us. The last year of my mom's life, she was plagued with chronic health problems that I now realize were undoubtedly made worse by the stress she was under with my dad. I visited 3-5 times per month and they were still able to hide a lot of it from me. It wasn't until she was gone that I realized how hard it must of been on her.
I wish the best for your parents and for you!
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It is a little after 2am, and I am sitting in the library at the seniors home typing this post. My parents were in the midst of moving in here when my father became ill, and wound up in the hospital with heart and a multitude of other issues. I promptly came out 2 days later to help my folks out. I live in New England, my folks live in western Canada. Their house is sold, and I am trying to help my mother settle in, and make the apartment a home. The first couple of nights were OK, but tonight she began to think that I am my father, and the time line went back to when they were courting. She told me that her parents would be back soon, and I had to leave. When I tried to use logic, she became agitated. The ironic part was that she angrily called me by my name, but still confused me with my dad. It was a surreal combination for me. Instead of arguing, I left the apartment, and began researching to see if others have been in the same situation. It gave me great comfort to see this thread. I will not say "misery loves company", but the challenges we are enduring are partially mitigated by the camaraderie we are sharing. My father will be released from hospital soon, but given his current state, he would not last long if he has to endure this type of situation. I can not stay here long, and relocating them to my neck of the woods would not be possible. I have 2 patients to deal with. I think that it may be time to move mom to more critical care, and give my dad some breathing room to relax. I will see if they can still remain in the same facility, but apart. I need peace of mind as well.
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OP, I feel your pain. My mother-in-law thinks that my husband (her son) is HER late husband. I know she has dementia but it still drives me nuts every time she says that.
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It is said that one person with dementia will keep 20 people busy. Your experience proves it.

Despite difficulties in doing so, it may be time to have dad put into a nursing home...

If you choose not to do that, or if you simply cannot do it, you may want to try this ruse..."Yes, we used to be married but you divorced me two years ago and so I now have a new husband." (I expect I will receive brickbats for saying that, but I only am "saying" not really giving advice...sort of any port in a storm type thing.)

I empathize with you.
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Clare, when Mom and I cared for her dad over 20 years ago, he would ask us 20 times a day "where is my wife?" Sometimes he would say your mother or my mother when the right words wouldn't come. We would remind him over and over that she had died and he would grieve all over again every time. We were at our wits end, but there wasn't much info out there on how to deal with dementia back then. Now Mom is the same way and I have learned to redirect her attention to something else when I know the correct answer will agitate and confuse her. I also find just giving generic answers like "really", "sure", uh-huh" is just enough to satisfy her. Remember that they can't remember from one minute to the next, so telling the truth can do more harm than good.
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It sounds to me like he needs to move into a nursing home or a memory care facility. At some facilities they have specialists who can work with the residents, to help them with their memory loss.

Your husband and son have to live there too, and it sounds like that would be hard for anyone to take. You have to live there, and it sounds like too much for you to take!
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Thank you Kabeena, Bookworm and Clare49, I do believe we are setting a great example for our families and friends, unconditional love. Pats to all of you on your backs!!!! Remember, when it gets tough, sing! lol
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Thought I would let you all know that my dad hasn't referred to me as his wife for a week or more.... to be honest, he just doesn't know WHO I am. Any of us, for that matter. But he seems to trust us when we tell him who we are, show him pictures and assure him that he is safe and loved here.

Also, my husband is spending more time in the house with us, but I actually think he likes being out in his "man-cave" and sometimes my dad is just an excuse for him to go out there! He is a guy that like's his space. It's heated and has cable tv, so it's not like he's sitting out in the dark in a tool shed!

Reserve, doesn't it make you so proud of your son to see his compassionate side? And it is just wonderful that his gf is helping too! My son also has a gf that is very kind to grandpa. The other day I was at work and my son was with my dad. When it was lunch time, my dad was reluctant to go to the kitchen because he wasn't sure who my son was. His gf came over and asked my dad to join her for lunch and he got up and went right to the table. (He is much more comfortable with women!) She sat and had lunch with him and put him at ease. It made me smile.... Compassion is a quality that seems to be on the decline in our society and it makes me happy to know my son is with someone that possesses it!
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Reverse- Wow, you are so blessed to have such a wonderful son, and on top of that you are getting a wonderful daughter-in-law! Makes me happy to hear about such goodness. Thank you!
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Foredelicastle -- I don't know what you wrote but ... this is a Public Forum. Everyone has a say. If this is based on YOUR personal experiences, then I don't see why anyone would object. I have recently experienced with this by saying something and was "verbally attacked" by others. Unfortunately, it also got other posters to "verbally defend" me. I went to AC admin and asked them to delete My Comments because it was causing division among the posters. As other posters kept telling me, this is a Publin Forum and we all have a say - as long as we dont' Attack other people or Tell them what to do. We can suggest or bring up what helped for us. I have learned to be more careful with what I say - most times.

Fordelicastle -- from the comments that is still here on AC, I did not find anything wrong. We each have a choice - parents stay at home vs. Nursing home/Assisted Living. Each of us have a Limit before we want to have our parent move to some form of assisted living. And some do Not Have Limits and can care for that parent to the end. We each need to base on what we can do. As for myself, if we had the funds, one parent would definitely go to assisted living but in reality, the one parent I would love to go - would not be the one chosen. Anyway, the point is moot since we have no money to send either one. So, I just do what I need to do. Too bad with 7 siblings, only 1 is helping me physically with the parents.

Foredeli - please come back to AC if you are still caregiving or still suffering from the effects of caregiving. I have read over and over on this site, that just because parent is now in NH or AL, the cg is still suffering from Post Traumatic Stress.

Reverse -- I am sooooo glad that your son and gf are helping! I have nieces/nephews of that age living just next door to us. Bro and his wife, too. I have no help even though I have asked and asked. Since I came on this site, I have learned to Accept that every person (siblings) have a right NOT to help. Since then, I don't have so much anger and resentment towards the rest of my siblings. But, I am soooo glad that my visiting nieces do help suctioning mom when they do their weekly visits. Yep, you have a pretty good son!! =)
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