My father has dementia. My mother has been dead for 25 years. Lately he will suddenly start asking for her demanding to know where she is and when she will be back. No specific time or frequency just randomly it might happen today and not again for weeks or it could happen again tomorrow. Please don't think I'm trying to be cruel but I'm at my wits end. My mother did not have friends she was very much a loner and did not work or travel so telling him she's visiting someone is instantly seen as a lie. If I say I don't know where she is or when she will return he wants me to help search. If I tell him she is out doing errands he doesn't let go of it and when she doesn't show up in a few hours we're back to the searching again or if its very late he doesn't believe. If I tell him the truth that she's dead he calls me a liar and accuses me of hiding her and says God is going to punish me severely for saying that. I'm recovering from injuries from a car accident and he says my pain is God punishing me he will make me a cripple and worse for saying she's dead. Saying she's in heaven is not a comfort and offering to prove I'm not lying just gets more ugly talk and accusations. Please believe me I'm not trying to hurt him and I'm so so sorry if it makes him relive pain of her passing but I don't know what to say nothing works. I've tried but I can't distract him with TV or change of subject. He won't let go and just goes on about how cruel I am and accusing me of hiding her. Full disclosure I did not have a happy relationship with my mother she was a very cold person and was ashamed of me because I was emotional so that makes this even harder on me. And my father has always had a tendency to see their marriage through rose colored glasses. Does anyone have any suggestions to help when this happens? Thanks in advance. Jean

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You haven't done anything wrong here Jean. You're not selfish or anything else negative, you're doing your best with a very difficult situation. It sounds like dad is living with you & you're not getting much sleep lately, which is hard.

If your father's dementia has gotten very bad 'overnight', I'd see about getting him checked out for something organically wrong with him like a UTI or another infection of some kind. He could have had a stroke or something else which exacerbated his dementia, that's a possibility.

Dad is experiencing agitation when he's insisting on seeing his wife and not listening to you about where she's at, that she's deceased, or out, or visiting relatives, etc. It doesn't matter that he has dementia or whatever, what matters is that his level of agitation is SO ramped up, that he can't calm down no matter WHAT you tell him. And that affects him AND you. What are you supposed to do, exactly? He's bringing the wrath of God down upon you all the time, so you're just supposed to smile sweetly and 'distract' him, which is not working? You said that multiple times. It's. Not. Working. Period.

Dad needs anti anxiety meds like Ativan to calm him down STAT. My mother with advanced dementia INSISTED her mother was alive and I was 'hiding her' somewhere and that she was in the Memory Care ALF somewhere, but mom just 'couldn't find' her. No matter what I told her, mom would not believe me. Same thing. But here's the difference: Mom lived in a Memory Care ALF and I didn't have to hear her carrying on all day about how God would punish me for lying and yada yada. I got the doctor to give her Ativan .25 mgs every 6 hrs which then had to be increased to every 4 hours and then .5 mgs every 4 hours and THAT did the trick. She calmed down and 'forgot' about being nerved up about where 'mama' was. Forget about logic, lying, stories, etc. and get dad MEDICATED for this horrible level of agitation he's now suffering and that YOU are suffering as a result. If his doctor is not agreeable to such a thing, time for a NEW DOCTOR FOR DAD.

And if that all fails, it's time to place dad in a Memory Care ALF or in Skilled Nursing b/c he's become too much for you to manage alone at home. You matter too; your life is important too. Sometimes, dementia becomes TOO MUCH for a daughter to handle at home and that's when you have to consider placement. It's not a sign of failure, just a sign that he's in a place where he needs more care than one person can possible provide. As my mother did. She had more issues than Newsweek, and 'where's mama' was only ONE small one of 100. The caregivers in her Memory Care ALF did a splendid job of caring for her, let me tell you.

Wishing you the best of luck with a very difficult situation. And please do not think for one moment that you are doing something 'wrong'. It's the dementia that's taken over dad's brain and sometimes, no matter WHAT we say or do, it's not going to work. #Truth
Helpful Answer (14)

He isn’t “refusing to believe”.

HIS “TRUTH” is what is caused by his progressively damaged brain, not the “facts” There are NO LIES in dementia care, by either the dementia victim, or by the caregiver.

The victim is FIRMLY ENTRENCHED in his own continuing flawed belief system, and you are out of kindness providing comfort and peace for him, whether factual or not.

You need NOT enter his detailed (dementia based) conversation. If he fails to stop, use earphones, distance, activities, whatever.

He no longer understands any of what he is saying.

If he lives with you (hopefully not) “Oops, Sorry Dad I just heard the washing machine e go off. Gotta put the wash in the dryer.” “Making a grocery shopping list, Dad. Be with you in a minute.

If he doesn’t live with you, “Oops I forgot I had to (mow the lawn, pick up the canary from the groomer’s, make the meatloaf, etc.)” give a quick hug, say I love you, AND LEAVE.

You are not obliged in any way to suffer this. DO NOT SUBJECT YOURSELF TO THIS.

If you have not spoken to a counselor about your family history it might be very helpful for you to do so. Be sure to choose someone gentle and compassionate. With targeted counseling you may be able to become more objective about that cause(s) for his outbursts and lack of logical, rational thinking.

Please take good care of yourself. The damage of dementia makes victims of both the victims themselves and their caregivers too.
Helpful Answer (13)
ShadowPDW Sep 2022
This is a very helpful response. Thanks
Is your father on an anti-anxiety drugs? if not, I'd talk to his doctor to get him some. ASAP.

And KNOW absolutely that his behavior and comments in fact have NOTHING to do with YOU. They are all a result of his disease. You might want to try to get some therapy to learn to ignore them or not let them bother you.

So very sorry for your difficult time. ((HUG))
Helpful Answer (10)

Does this happen during the afternoons, as in he is sundowning? If so, you may need to start some activity to engage his mind preemptively and do all other things that help deal with sundowning.

Is he currently on any meds for anxiety? If not, please consult with his doctor for info and options.

You've tried telling the truth but this doesn't work for people with dementia since they no longer have reason and logic as tools.
You've tried "therapeutic fibs" and distraction but he is too paranoid.
None of it has worked.

Have you tried shrugging your shoulders and saying, "I don't know" and then asking him where *he* thinks she is? See where that goes. I don't have any other suggestions except to walk out of the room or house and then wait for him to get out of the loop.

I'm so sorry you are gong through this. Dementia is so hard.
Helpful Answer (9)

Do you have any siblings? If you do then tell him that she's visiting one of them.
Then you ignore any further mention about where your mother is.
If redirecting him doesn't work ignore it when he brings it up and refuse to discuss it.
I've had many homecare clients who had dementia and would get something into their mind and not let it go. Sometimes they'd be on it for days. Then the repeating. I would answer something a couple of times and then try to redirect. If redirecting didn't work I just completely ignored the entire subject. I also would never continually repeat the same answer to a question over and over because a client got into a dementia loop. It doesn't help. Learn to ignore with love.
If he gets too verbally abusive it may be time to consider placement in a care facility.
Helpful Answer (6)
ShadowPDW Sep 2022
Hello, thank you so much for your advice “learn to ignore with love”. Applies here as in many other situations with elder care. Wish I could help my spouse to better understand to do that.
You may as well tell a paralyzed person that they're refusing to walk. He's not capable of retaining that info. Just tell him she's at the beauty salon or shopping or something.
Helpful Answer (6)

I was going to ask the question about medications too - from what you posted that was the only possible option I was thinking might work - to keep him calm. I like Geaton's idea of redirecting the question back to him and see where that gets you potentially as well.

You don't mention in your post and I'm not familiar with your back story - are you caring for your father at home? Or is he in memory care? You mention that he requires you to help him search for her if you can't produce something distracting enough for him, so I'm suspecting he's not in memory care, so I'm wondering if his dementia has potentially progressed to the point where memory care might be something to consider now as well?

When these situations occur, and he gets upset that you can't find her - you mention that he calls you a liar - do things escalate - I guess what I'm asking is does he get violent or anything along those lines that would make YOU fearful of him during these episodes?

Are you noticing these times that he is asking for her increase? Or other behaviors like this increase?

I would certainly pass this information on to his doctor and see what they can do to help. As Geaton mentioned there are medications that can help.
Helpful Answer (5)

His reality with the dementia is that she is still alive it is not that he is refusing to believe it.
Your response to him should be:
"She went to the store, I do not know when she will be back."
"She went to lunch with some friends"
then change the subject.
"Would you like something to drink?"
"Why don't we start getting dinner ready, can you help?"
All that said I think you could talk to his doctor about medication for the anxiety.
And I think you might want to think about placing dad in Memory Care. It sounds like caring for him is not good for YOUR mental health.
Helpful Answer (4)

Geriatric Psychiatrist can evaluate, medicate and assist in getting Dad placed. Just be sure to locate Memory Care living situations that offer a lot of activities and doesn't guarantee he'll participate, but he will have options.
Helpful Answer (4)

I've read somewhere that it truly takes a village to care for just one person, so please don't go it alone to do caregiving beyond your level of care. Help will save your own life. In my earlier thread, dementia is a terrible disease that went way above the normal level of care. Requires 24-hour memory care that no single person can do no matter how skilled he or she is.
Helpful Answer (3)

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