How do you deal with parent who has always been quick to correct or argue facts and opinions, but is getting worse as their memory fades?

Asked by

My 82yo father has always had a reputation as being very knowledgable and would never hesitate correcting people, for which he also had reputation. As he has hit his 80's his memory has faded, so as he corrects you he is very often wrong. The frequency has also increased to the point where having a normal conversation with his is a challenge and unpleasant. He spends 4 out of 7 days a week at our home and his relationship with me and especially my wife has become strained. We are his prime and only caregivers. I need to contain the issue before relationships are damaged. All advice welcome on how best to manage the situation

Answers 1 to 10 of 21
Top Answer
This is the key: You must "bite the bullet". Now, and going forward, there is no more arguing points, negotiating, or trying to prove you are as smart as he is.
You can say, "Yes, you're right, Dad", "Thank you for that"--whatever will assuage him and keep him from further agitation. He is changing, you must adapt.
When you neutralize the situation, the angst diffuses. Your "normal conversations" are a different normal now. Align with your wife and have an agreement that you will try this, and perhaps the calmer atmosphere will nurture a "new relationship" with your Father. You see the deterioration of his mind; knowing that will generate a compassionate response from you.
He knows, too, even if he will not admit it, that he is winding down, and that is SCARY to them. Enjoy your time together. Blessings;) Christina
I agree, forget trying to be logical with him and tell him he's wrong, won't happen. Just like Christina said, say 'is that right..' 'no kidding' 'how about that' That way you're not admitting he's right, just placating him so he'll move on to something else. I know it's frustrating, but don't make it bigger then it is. It'll drive you crazy.
You also might remember that if your dad still had his brain, he'd probably be right anyhow.
I am in a simular situation its my mother 85 she lives with me and my husband always correcting me, yet she is not safe to be allowed to cook and when I'm trying to prepare a meal she moves everything tells me what to do it really angers me she certainly knows how to push all my buttons life it no fun around her its hard to just too agree, if she was of sound mind you wouldnt allow so what makes the difference now
What you are really saying is, he is the same now, as he always was! Only now, just agree with him on everything. Just a nod and 'um hmm' will do. It will make it a lot easier on all of you.
My parents have always been "right" not matter what the issue. I have finally stopped arguing with my mother because I am the one who becomes stressed and she enjoys the argument. As she becomes older, I think it also means a great deal to her self-confidence to feel that she is correct. She is frightened by becoming older and I will be in the same place one day, I imagine. I also try to introduce topics where she has a great deal of accurate knowledge that she can share. I share your frustration, however! Hang in there.
All of the above!!! Just agree with him, all it does when we argue with our elders is cause them anxiety and stress. When Ruth says it's raining and it's not, I just say it sure is, wonder when it will stop. I have used this term many times, I have to go to her world, she doesn't live in mine anymore. It may be an adjustment, but as Dr. Phil would say, " do you want to be right or get along"
I t is an adjustment for him to be there. Be supportive of your wife and the changes she is going thru giving up her privacy, ect. Keep posting, we are here for the good and the not so good... hugs across the miles
I notice with my Mom that her mood follows ours (my husband's and mine). If we get frustrated with her "quirks", she becomes frustrated and whiny. When we are in a lighthearted mood; she is as well. We try so hard to agree with her and laugh alot (not always successful but getting better at it). We know the atmosphere of the household is up to us. There is no more trying to reason with her ... she's just different now.
The above answers are great -what ever works or you will drive yourself crazy and hopefully you will be able to vent the gross out thread has help everyone so much it was started over a year ago and has more than 13430 responses the group get help from each other and some laughs along the way-this is Maxine-there is a story behind that name but will not bore you we laugh we cry we stand up for each other we vent we bitch we get gross if need be we are there for each other most are caregivers some like me post caregiver it is better than booze-wait a min better than xanax almost as good as a good night's sleep though most do not remember what that was like-people from all over the country and Italy-so someone is always awake and will be glad to listen and respond. Try us you will like us.
I agree with Verlaine. This is just something you will have to go through and make the best of it. I think you cannot argue with him, which will make it worse. Just go along as much as you can, change the subject, interject a question on a different subject which will switch his mind. I do this sometimes with my mother, who is in a continual paranoia over the nursing home staff wanting to kill me or harm me in some way. There is no convincing her otherwise, so I just try to appear that I am one up on them and watching them instead of them watching me! By all means, don't take his arguments personally. Just go with the flow. And find humor in it. It IS there. Keep a journal. I have four on Mama since going to the nursing home, one for each year she has been there. Godspeed to you.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support