My father’s mental health has been rapidly declining and I’ve had to take a more active role as of lately. He has been repeatedly calling me about non issues and will leave many voicemails in a row if I don’t answer.
Sunday morning I awoke to 17 voicemails from him from the previous night in a span of about an hour. They started with him accusing the neighbor of poisoning the food he had brought him, saying that my husband needs to take him to get it out his system, to telling me he wasn’t going to make it and was dying, to then apologizing for calling and telling me ignore his messages.
When I called him, he was fine. He remembered he had called me because he wasn’t feeling well but did not recall all of the details. I told him that if he calls me and I do not answer, he should leave a message and I will call him back when I’m available and if he is having a medical emergency and I don’t answer, he needs to call 911. He was upset and told me he won’t call me anymore to which I told him that’s not what I was telling him.
So this morning he calls to tell me that last night, he called 911 and went to the ER at 1am because he had a cut on his back from a fall 2 weeks prior that was bothering him.
He is lying about the ER.
This seems manipulative to me.
I didn’t think people with dementia could be manipulative or spiteful. I’m trying to learn about this. I appreciate any insight. Thank you

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My mother with vascular dementia has turned from a nice lady into a spiteful unhappy person. She is in a memory care home. Every visit, I take a lot of passive-aggressive insults from her and she will not cooperate with the care workers. Just remember that this is not the person you knew, it is a person with dementia.
Helpful Answer (19)
Reply to felixmental

This is called CONFABULATION.

His malfunctioning brain is "filling in" the information and memories he has lost by creating preposterous stories. That doesn't mean he's deliberately lying, but that the void created by the missing information and memories cannot be tolerated by the brain and it will literally make stuff up to "explain" these gaps, even if it makes absolutely no sense.

Please look up CONFABULATION in dementia to see if it matches what you seem to be experiencing.
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Reply to Sataari
Wolfpack Sep 16, 2023
Exactly spot on!
My mom can exhibit behavior that might seem spiteful but it's her way of struggling to cope with what she has lost. She is aware that there are things she can no longer do, or do well. If you are with her (on the phone or is person) when she becomes aware that she's made a mistake she will often be short or show anger. It's not personal, it's just her grief. I'm not suggesting that it's easy to be on the receiving end of it. It's not. I try to remind myself often that she's upset at the disease. It's taken far more from her than it has from us (her children).
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Reply to Ziffisme7

Absolutely they can be spiteful but "they know no what they do." My Mom cared for her aging parents alone and had to work full time (my dad died young and her only sibling lived on the other side of the country). My grandpa actually hit her one day when she was at their house helping them with bills and such. She had to put him in a nursing facility after that (where he picked a fight with another resident and broke his arm in the fight). She had put up with the verbal abuse from him but drew the line at physical abuse. Plus she was concerned about him hurting my grandma. He really did not realize what he was doing. Dementia is such a sad illness for everyone involved.
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Reply to Monica19815

You have my compassion. Seems like others have already responded helpfully. Just want to share my sympathy. I'm going through the same with my husband.
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Reply to EstherBernard
Windy2022 Sep 16, 2023
I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how hard that is. I watched my mother in law go through it with my father in law suffering from Parkinson’s and dementia. And it started when he was in his early 60’s. Absolutely devastating. I hope you have a good support system.
Sadly, dementia can bring out the worst in a person. Dementia behavior is a very individual thing. There are many similarities between dementia patients, but not everyone shows all the same behavior. To add to the confusion, those behaviors can come and go. It really is a “moving target.”

So to answer your question, yes, they can be spiteful, hateful, lie, vindictive, childish, petty, mean, violent and downright scary. They can also be loving and sweet. Their brain is dying and their behaviors can change on a dime.

Your father may need more care than you can provide. Can you hire home help so he’s not alone or would you consider a facility? Something to start thinking about.
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Reply to Donttestme

There’s an oft repeated saying here “if you’ve met one person with dementia, you’ve met one person with dementia” In other words, the diagnosis can mean almost endless differing variations on behaviors. But it always means a person loses the ability over time to make sound, reliable choices. I’m sorry your dad is there
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Reply to Daughterof1930
Windy2022 Sep 11, 2023
You are right about that. My father in law had Parkinson’s and Dementia. We spent years dealing with that and I still feel I know nothing about the disease.
Good heavens---

They not only can be spiteful, they can be hateful, cruel, mean, unbending, depressed, anxious, mad, selfish and well--you get the drift.

To some degree, the dementia is just a broken brain. The person is not really able to make decisions and do what's 'right''

Dementia can also be a very sneaky disease in that it takes a person who wasn't so lovely to begin with and as the dementia progresses, the family just kind of shakes their collective heads and go "well, that's mom being mom'. And dementia is not even counted as a factor.

My MIL is the latter category. She was NEVER 'nice' but always had a sharp barb to stick you with when she felt you needed it.

Her kids have been caring for her for quite a long time and the other night I made some off hand comment about her (VERY OBVIOUS) dementia and my DH came right back with the statement that SHE DOES NOT HAVE DEMENTIA.

I looked at him and said "you HAVE to be kidding me? you can't see how she acts, talks, etc. and think it's OK? just the way she is?" He argued that since a Dr had not diagnosed her as such, in their opinions, she was 'fine'.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to Midkid58

He has dementia. He may need to go to his healthcare provider if this is a change in behavior, since other things, like a UTI, can make the dementia confusion worse. Understand that he isn't acting deliberately. He has a disease that is slowly blocking his brains connections, and one of the areas of the brain that is affected is the one that lets us remember what we've been doing all day. If he's aware there's an issue with his memory he may be very scared. Sometimes the disease makes it so the person doesn't have the capacity to see that they are struggling, (called anosognosia) and they may resist you trying to tell them what changes you see. It may upset them. If it does, just drop the subject. Along with the memory the disease affects how a person can take in and process information and emotions, so go slow.

If we assume that his behaviors are an effect of the disease and he doesn't recall phoning you, then his behaviors make a lot more sense, don't they?
Then he's not lying, he's genuinely not able to remember those 17 phone calls, and's relying on some scrambled bits of information he can still access to try to piece together what happened. Sometimes those memories are from a long time ago. From what you're describing, he's at the point where he's going to need more help with managing his meds, finances, home, etc. Now might be the time to start looking at a downsize from his home to assisted living places that have memory care. A move now may be easier than farther along in the disease. It's also the time to get the advice of a certified eldercare law attorney (CELA) if you dad doesn't have a power of attorney signed up or a long term financial plan.
This board is excellent, and the alzheimer's assosciation also has a forum and help line:1-800-272-3900

These helped me... (sorry-you'll have to paste the links):,Arial,Black,White,One-and-a-Half

Tam Cummings assessment tools/AD checklist

Teepa Snow-10 early:

5 losses besides memory:


Talking to a parent:

Stepping Into Dementia’s Reality: Advice From Teepa Snow | Brain Talks | Being Patient:

Careblazers-5 mistakes to avoid:

Stage 4:

Stage 3:

Moderate stage:

Careblazers-How To Convince Someone With Dementia They Need Help:

Talking to a person w/ dementia.

Teepa-multiple videos:
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to ElizabethY
Windy2022 Sep 11, 2023
Thank you so much for all of this information. I feel very lost in this whole process. This information will be very helpful.
This is a very difficult situation as I have not had a close relationship with him and have not spent much time with him over the past 30 years (his choice). There has been no real baseline for me as to what is normal behavior (manipulating and lying) and what is the dementia. I am still learning and accepting that the person he was is not who he is now.
There are so many challenges that the dementia is only one of them.
He currently has no health insurance, is not drawing SS, and has no assets except a semi small settlement he received recently that will run out in about a year based on his current living arrangement.
Fortunately, I have been able to hire an eldercare attorney as well as a wonderful eldercare consultant to take the next steps for his care.
In my experience this sounds pretty typical. Yes, people with dementia can be spiteful and manipulative.

With my mom it isn’t voicemails but it is texts and they can be similar at times to your dad’s voicemails . She has some health issue in the middle of the night and she is dying and needs to see a doctor. Then she is angry that no one cares. Then she gets suicidal or says she just wants to die. This is followed by a note saying she is okay. Then next day if you ask her about it she says: “Oh, I was trying to reach you but I can’t remember why. Everything is fine.” If questioned about the texts she will laugh and say “I did that?”

That is just when she is anxious. However, there are times when she is angry and manipulative, too. She says she will call 911 if we don’t take her to the doctor. We tell her that is a good idea if it is that urgent and then she gets mad. She says she will get a taxi. She never does but there is nothing wrong with her and she is full of it. She faked having a stroke in a restaurant and that got her a 3 day hospital stay during which they found nothing wrong with her except that she has mental problems (anxiety and depression) as well as dementia.

Anyway, yes, this behavior with your dad sounds familiar.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to taimedowne

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