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My father (90) was diagnosed 2 years ago with short term memory loss/mild dementia. The dementia has steadily progressed, but my mother (86) refuses to accept it. She insists that it is just mild dementia and that he is just being stubborn and wants it his way. He not only has short term memory loss, but he now refuses to bath without a fight...always a standoff, can not shower by himself...she has to do it for him, constantly makes inappropriate sexual comments to women, refuses do simple walking or exercising as prescribed by his doctor...has had surgeries and is losing his mobility, needs help getting dressed, has lost interest in reading and watching television...just sits and sleeps, and gets extremely agitated swearing and saying very hurtful things when my mother tries to get him to cooperate. He was never like this before the onset of dementia. It's as though he's on a very slippery slope. My mother is exhausted and depressed...she does all of the care herself and will not get help. She still refuses to accept that this is the dementia progressing and get help...and she gets frustrated with me when I try to get her to see the reality. Her health is fragile and I don't want to lose her, too...Not sure what to do!

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For my cousins, it took getting a geriatric care manager involved to save her from "death by caregiving". It took time, but this wonderful professional was able to gain my Aunt's trust, got her to visit some memory care units and finally was able to help her place my uncle. It turned out he had been beating her black and blue for the key to the condo, because he like to wander. My aunt went every day to the facility to care for him thrre.
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This reminds me back 7 years ago when my Dad had a heart attack, my Mom refused to believe that had happen to him, and was angry if anyone said it was a heart attack... my gosh what would people think?... that my Mom wasn't a good wife? That probably was her reasoning and part of her generation. She refused to have Dad go live at rehab to get better... she could take care of him at home... earth to Mom, you are 90 years old, but she insisted.

I believe for my Mom her whole adult life was running the home, meals at 5pm, keeping a spotless house, caring for Dad and me... that was her job. And one does not retire from THAT job. Even at 97 today she keeps on working at her job. Glad my thinking is different.
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I don't think that my mother has started developing dementia. I think it's more the grave sadness that their lives are taking this turn and to face it squarely is just too frightening for her right now. Realizing that my dad is on a slippery slope and that her life is quickly changing in this direction is so difficult to accept. Heartbreaking!
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Such sage advise...it really doesn't matter what it's labeled...I just have to work with them to ease the way forward!
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My mother would never accept that my father had dementia. My father knew he had it, but wouldn't discuss it with her. My mother needed to see him as the brilliant man she had always known. To her, dementia was saying something bad about him. She couldn't accept that. In her case it didn't matter that she rejected the idea of dementia. We carried on the same either way. Even now, three years after my father died, she wonders why he did certain things. I rarely bother to tell her that it was the dementia. (I also don't tell her that she has been diagnosed with it.)
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Is it possible that mom is also developing mild dementia? She's 86, it's quite possible that she can't reason with your fathers dementia because her ability to reason is also comprimised. You have a difficult situation on your hands in any case. Good luck.
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Such helpful advice! It does upset my mother when I suggest that his behavior is not stubbornness or laziness, but may be the dementia progressing. I definitely think that dropping the issue is important so that she doesn't push me away. I really want her to continue to trust me so that I can help...I am so afraid of her becoming ill from all of the stress...she seems so fragile and so down! She had a serious a-fib situation about a month ago which put her in the hospital for a week. Fortunately, I was there/visiting at the time and rushed her to the hospital. The hardest part is that I don't live near my parents...2 states away. I am down there about every 4-6 weeks to help and we talk on the phone a couple times a day, but it's so difficult not to be there on a daily basis.

My dad was diagnosed 2 years ago with "mild" dementia and takes medicine for it. He has had heart surgery and a hip replacement in that time. I am trying to encourage a follow-up with this physician to "update" his medications, but it tough to get it done. I think they are both so tired and seem to be overwhelmed by any additional trips to doctors. Suggesting yet another doctor's appointment seems to topple the deck of what my mother is able to accomplish and yet, she's really resistant to engaging outside help...I guess that's part of the denial. What a difficult time of life...for both of them! I can only imagine how frightening it is for them to make these adjustments! All I want to do is help make it an easier situation for them: keeping them happy, healthy/safe and enjoying each other and our family...the simple pleasures!

I am so appreciative of any suggestions that you may have that would help me help them...this is unchartered territory for me! Thanks so much!!
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She may still be in denial, while expressing her devotion by handling all his care herself. If trying to get her to accept the reality of his situation upsets her, just drop the issue and focus on addressing his behavior and getting help for her, if that's possible. She sounds like a woman who's very dedicated to her husband and will continue to be so until she becomes too exhausted or ill herself.

Can you get some respite care through your father's doctor (who can script for home care) so you can take your mother out for dinner, or away just for a while to give her some rest?

Is he on any medication for the dementia?
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You sound exactly like me. I am under the impression that my father had the beginnings of dementia for 10 years before any diagnosis. In fact I am sure my mother covered up for him before she died. I think he made her life miserable at the end. Also in a similarity, one of our families closest cherished friend, then a widow cut all ties to our family. Six years later, I asked her if father had said or done anything inappropriate to make this happen. She said yes and I asked her what happened. She said she would not tell me until after my father has passed. Yikes, heaven knows he probably made a pass at her.

Long story short, I have been trying to communicate to my siblings for years that it is dementia, but most just want to believe that it is stubbornness and a mean spirit as well. I feel your pain. Do what ever you can to get your mother some respite...it will be good for her health. Can you do something sneaky like have a caregiver come over for a day to clean house and watch father while you and your mother go to lunch and a beauty shop day?
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