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My father is 77 years old, and recently I have noticed changes in him. He is normally a person you can talk to, he has good advice and loves joking around. I do not live near him, but I do see him every few months and talk to him almost daily. When I talk to him, everything is fine and dandy, but we just got back from vacationing with him I was so upset by seeing such a change. I was making a joke in front of many other older family members and he got so upset at it, he went off!!! Yelling and screaming at me, telling me he never wants to hear anything like that again! Even my mother was trying to tell him I was just kidding, well he didnt care and kept on then finally walked out of the room. I let him calm down for a bit then walked outside to apologize to him. Big mistake, because all it did was start all over again with me saying, I get it, I get it, I wont do it anymore...but I have never seen this man that mad before....I did ask for a hug and he gave me one. About 20 minutes later we went out to eat and it was like nothing had even happened....totally out of character for him.
Another incident happened with another family member. Someone said something to him he took wrong and when approached the next day to clarify the comment a huge argument began on my dads side and the other family member couldn't even explain a thing without being told to shut up, my dad knew what he meant and he didn't need to hear anything he had to say....The next morning my dad met this family member with grins and chuckles say "sooo hows it going this morning" just like he always does...and like nothing ever happened. There are other instances when I have heard he gets very upset and will NOT anyone explain what they meant because he KNOWs what they meant.

I do not know if there has been a change in medications, or what the change is, but I plan on talking to my mother about it when she gets back off of vacation. I just fear it may be signs of an illness coming on. He had open heart surgery 2 years ago, he is diabetic, and has hearing loss for which he will NOT get hearing aids for. He says he doesnt need them.

How does one approach a parent when you think something is going on? I fear it will lead to more arguing, and not just I dont agree arguing, but full blown screaming match on his side....I am just so worried about it.

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Babalou, what an excellent answer. This is why this site is so helpful -- can't beat been-there-done-that subjective advice. Great example.
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You've got two suspects here; medications AND hearing. If your dad isn't hearing every word in a sentence, or mishear one word (not, doesn't,) imagine how it changes the meaning of a story.

Talk to mom. If this is happening often and she is also concerned (" yes, I'm worried to death, but I don't know what to do"), brainstorm this with her, have her call dad's doctor with some examples of these behaviors.

I remembering, many years ago when my ex-husband and I were still in out 30s, he started behaving more erratically than usual ( he was and is mercurial brilliant and tempermental, which why he's an EX). Anyway, suddenly things were more black and white than ever and he was blowing over smaller and smaller things. He'd been diagnosed with a seizure disorder as a teenager and was on a long term medication. I called his neurologist and described what was happening. He told me that there were recent reports that this drug, used long term, seemed to be responsible in some cases, for the kinds of changes I was describing. (Notice, he didn't say anything about e's condition, just about reports). He called my ex the next day and suggested that he come in, due to reports he was reading about this drug, and to discuss alternatives. Ex went happily, none the wiser.

Doctors can LISTEN to your concerns, even if they can't respond to YOU.
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You've got mom to ask. See what she has to say. I like that your head goes to his medications. I think I'd be asking mom whether or not this behavior had just begun...does or did it coincide with any medication changes...get a list of all meds he's on and Google side effects to see if any may cause aggression or anxiety.

If your mom isn't alarmed, I don't think I'd be too concerned. If he was completely out of his element and normal routine, maybe he was just really crabby about it.
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