Is it typical for my dad to be in such denial regarding his wife's alzheimer's disease?

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My stepmom is alzheimer's, my dad denies her need for special attention and continues to get upset with her when she does things that alzheimers patients do, like putting shoes on wrong feet, etc. How do I make him understand, she is not normal anymore and needs to be handled gently with tender loving care?

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As you can see from the responses, denial is common, but not necessarily healthy. In this case it keeps your father angry much of the time (perhaps he prefers that to being sad) and it is very unfair and hurtful to your stepmom. For that reason I'd hope that you can move him gently into greater acceptance. Has her doctor had a heart-to-heart conversation with Dad? Is there a respected peer who could talk to him -- a golf buddy, his accountant, even his barber? It may be a little harder to dismiss coming from an objective outsider than coming from you.

Aside from this persistent denial, is your father otherwise of sound mind?
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Both my husband's brothers refused to admit their parents had dementia for years. Even when confronted by a SNF "committee" who was alarmed that MIL who was driving each day to visit FIL. One brother believed they were just trying to steal his parents bank account and home.

They went so far as to remove my FIL from his SNF months after the special meeting and dumped him at home on MIL. (They felt she should be taking care of him)

On the Houston news last year an elderly couple had been on their way to a family birthday party (bringing the cake) and ended up in Florida. If you are unfamiliar with the area, they traveled through Louisiana (another state) to get to Florida. After they were found on the news their daughters were interviewed. One daughter said "My dad has dementia". The other daughter became angry and said "There is nothing wrong with my dad!"

See it happens all the time. Some see it, some don't want to see it.
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Maybe the thought of her having this disease is too daunting for him to face. Maybe he thinks he'll have to face it alone and it scares him, so he just gets mad at her instead. Kinda like sticking his head in the sand so to speak. But I would look around on this site and see if someone can recommend a book for your dad. When you find one, ask him to read it to see if his wife fits the description of what they're talking about. You must know him pretty well, what's going to help him the best?
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My mom did the same thing with my dad. He passed away several years ago, and to this day she denies he had anything seriously wrong with his mind. I think this is the only way some people can deal with it. I used to get so frustrated with my mom insisting he was just aggravating her, or trying to get attention. I am pretty sure it was her survival mechanism.
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