teddie Asked August 2011

Why does my dad pretend he is asleep when I visit him in the nursing home?

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jvackine Aug 2011
Their world is getting much smaller, and sometimes being accosted with news about the 'outside world' is a bit much for them. Much like a baby when they get overwhelmed by a loud room, will just fall asleep to shut out that which is too much to handle. Does he like to play cards or do puzzles? If you can get him to play without talking, maybe you can draw him out. I had one resident who was sitting beside the bed of her dying husband with her eyes closed while the daughters were talking around her. One said "well, when mom wakes up, we'll ask her." I told them she wasn't sleeping. They looked surprised, saying 'she sleeps all the time!' No, I told them, this is a life skill of hers that she uses to learn things. Plus, she can hear more with her eyes closed. It helps her focus." At that moment, the woman, without opening her eyes, said "It's a handy skill to have." The daughters were mortified, wondering what they may have said about her all these years! This is very common. If he has a hard time dealing with your life and chatter, try to stay quiet until he invites you into his world. Hang in there; you're showing him you love him and that's a lot!
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bebe10 Aug 2011
My mother would do that to me if she were upset with me (even though I did not know she was upset and she would not let me know) she would just shut me out or ignore me...pretend to be asleep...it is a form of punishment. It was upsetting for me at times. She did this all of my life but I only began to pay attention once I became her caregiver. It is sort of a passive/ aggressive kind of thing.. You really cannot get upset with them because they are not doing anything...but It gives them a sense of power and control and I think it is understandable....after all they are loosing it all and being placed in a home or given care by others And of course what they want is to be back to the past when things were in their control. Getting old is not for wimps...As for your Dad...I would just ignore it and when he gets tired of doing it (if he is faking) or you stop giving it attention perhaps he will quit. Try this when you are visiting and he pretends to be asleep...Touch him and say Hi dad, you asleep?...if no response just say ."You just go ahead and sleep and I'll just sit here with you for a while....then just sit quietly (meditate or whatever )and leave at the designated time...but not before giving him a hug and letting him know how much he is loved and how you miss talking and being with him. (Do this....Even if he is asleep or faking sleep). Thank him for being your father, etc. Try saying this even if you do not mean it....for later on you probably will. I know this is a very difficult time. Having worked with seniors my whole adult life (philanthropic work) I realize that Aging is difficult...that is why it is so important to have a good relationship with those close to us. The elderly often have negative ideas about getting old and sometimes try to think for us...My mother passed in 2009 and I can tell you there is nothing more rewarding than to know that your loved one had the best you could give and left this world feeling loved and appreciated. And you forgive them...and send them off with high honors! Love and blessings to you. I know you probably feel a little hurt but it will all work out for you. ~ Bobbi Henderson
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only1 Aug 2011
Maybe he feels more of a comfort & peace knowing you are nearby, this may be the most relaxed he ever feels is when you are near him.
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ppj784 Aug 2011
FasCnatingwoman .... thank you so much for your response. At least that strange behavior does have a name. For some reason that makes me feel better, and over time I have stopped taking it personally.
Teddie ... my Mom does this continuously. She peeks to see if anyone is in the room, and if nobody is (I can see her from the kitchen), then she opens her eyes and watches TV, but as soon as she hears someone coming her way, she immediately closes her eyes and pretends she is sleeping.
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arose4yu Aug 2011
or he could be like my dad and pretends he's asleep so he can listen in on your conversations!
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It's called self-isolation. It's a symptom. Some call it "playing possum". Don't take it personally.
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pltrickey Aug 2011
My mother liked to keep her eyes shut most of the time. She liked to think of the "olden" days and often would fall asleep. When she woke up, she thought that the people seen in her dreams were in the house. It is part of the dementia and getting old. it has nothing to do with you. The body is slowly shutting down and will sleep more and more until death.
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Tamara Aug 2011
My father sleeps thru most of my visits too. He has dementia (severe) and seems to nap a great deal of the time. I doubt it has anything to do with you...just how he's feeling as his brain & body are slowing to a snails pace. Just make sure the staff isn't over-medicating him.
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D2 Aug 2011
Perhaps he really is asleep. I've noticed with my father he falls asleep easily but is easily roused. He doesn't think he's been asleep when he has been.
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jeannegibbs Aug 2011
How long has your dad been there? How do you know he is pretending to sleep? Does he do this when other people visit him, or just you? What are his impairments? Does he have dementia?

Sorry to answer with just questions, but a little more information might help us be constructive.
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