My father with dementia moved into my home 6 months ago as he is incapable of living on his own. He is verbally abusive to my wife who consistently and lovingly services his needs in any way she can. Despite my consistent pleas to treat my wife with respect, he continues to demean her (mostly when I am not around) and has made her feel unwelcome in her own home. Dad has the means to live in assisted living, and I’m considering asking him to leave my home. I feel like an unfit husband and son. Is there any way I can change my father’s abusive behavior?

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Why would you ask him to leave your home.
TELL him gently and with love that he WILL BE LIVING SOMEWHERE ELSE.

Your “job” as his son is to be sure he is safe, fed, clothed, and respected as a human being. You DO NOT have to “pay” for his needs by expending the comfort of your wife.

You have taken on a terribly difficult job. A six month’s trial has shown you that the present arrangement is not working.

A cognitive assessment may be accessible in a memory care unit, or if not, may be arranged for more easily than in your home. He may well need a trial of medication.

Remember, you cannot control what your father says or does, but you can control where he says or does them.
Helpful Answer (27)
golden23 Jan 2020
So very well said, Ann, especially "Remember, you cannot control what your father says or does, but you can control where he says or does them."
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IMO your family comes first. He either has dementia or is just a bully. In either case, your wife does not deserve to be treated this way.

He has funds, start looking for AL for him and move him out. He will not change, he will continue to get worse.

Sending support your way.
Helpful Answer (23)

You really cannot change a demented person's behavior in any way. Trying to get a message through to them is impossible; they get something stuck in their head and you can't chop it out with an ax! Sad but true. Even though he likely doesn't mean any harm with what he's saying to your wife, it's still something that is hurtful and bothersome to her, I'm sure. Verbal abuse is something that nobody should ever have to live with, no matter the reason for it.

If he has the means to live in Assisted Living, by all means look into it. Make sure the ALF has a Memory Care section as well, so he can move into that area either now or when needed. Dementia only progresses with time and never gets better, only worse, unfortunately. Moving dad into a Memory Care environment doesn't make you an 'unfit son' makes you concerned with his welfare and interested in getting him socialized and cared for in the best way possible. You are not an unfit husband, either, as you have no way to prevent his behavior towards your wife. You CAN be the hero by moving him out of your home and into an ALF, however.

Wishing you the best of luck with this whole situation
Helpful Answer (22)
disgustedtoo Jan 2020
Pretty much says it all. While seeking alternatives, be EXTRA supportive and understanding of your wife! Find ways to alleviate some of the care/interface she has with him. You say he has funds for AL - could you use some now to bring in help that would deal with him and give the wife a well-needed break?

Care-giving in general can be at the very least a thankless job, sometimes worse. Being verbally abused and unappreciated makes it worse. Dementia really plays into his behavior, though it might be how he has felt all along, and now just has no "filter" to prevent him from expressing how he feels.

As for the move, with dementia he will eventually, if not already, need MC. Moving/changing environments is hard on those with dementia, so it will probably be best to just move him to MC rather than AL->MC.

Moving him will relieve the pressure on your wife, make you the "hero" yet you can still be advocate for your father and visit often, ensuring he is well-cared for. Too many insist we *must* provide this duty because we owe it to them. Moving someone to a facility is NOT abandoning them and can actually make a relationship better, as it allows you to revert to being a caring child rather than a nurse-maid. With dementia, there is no reasoning with him or chastising him. No matter how many times you try to change his behavior or convince him to stop, he won't remember and it will continue, or even get worse.

Final thought - once he moves, he may become difficult towards you as well. Some adjust to the new environment, but it can take time. Others never adjust. Often staff will recommend staying away for a few weeks, to allow some adjustment. Learn to "redirect" his focus onto something else if he starts with the 'take me home' rant. If he can't be refocused, then cut the visit short, try again another time.

The only thing we can say is do NOT take the guilt about this on yourself. It is what it is, we can't control it. No matter what you do, you will likely get the "guilt" laid on you. Moving him will likely be the best for all.
You know some of our posts are from wives whose husbands move their father and mother in and expect the wife to care for them. Abuse and all. This is nice that the husband is worried about the wife. I would say to set boundries but that is not possible with Dementia.

My suggestion is to place Dad in an AL. The sooner you do this the more likely he will except it as "home" as his Dementia progresses. Your wife does not deserve the abuse. Your Dad will be safe, fed and cared for in an AL. Hopefully he will enjoy having meals with others and the activities.

Your responsibility is to your wife. To keep her happy. Seems to be a keeper.

Just a question, how was Dad with ur mother.
Helpful Answer (22)

Move him out of your wife's home. Your wife should not face abuse from anyone and your first duty as a man is to your spouse.

You say Dad has the means to afford Assisted Living, then that is where he should be.

If you do not move him out of your house, you wife may just move herself out. And she would be 100% in the right to do so.
Helpful Answer (21)

With dementia, you cannot argue with him - his brain is not working properly.  So, if he can afford assisted living, then that is where he belongs.  For sure your wife should not have to put up with abuse in her home.
Helpful Answer (19)

First - you don't ask him to leave, you make the necessary arrangements and move him.
Second - if your father has been abusive to your wife for 6 months, you're not going to change him - re-read First, and make the arrangements to move him.
Third - it is possible your father has been like this to all women and you never noticed it. Move him ASAP or risk your marriage.
Helpful Answer (19)
jacobsonbob Jan 2020
....or even possible he has been like this to all people! His son should have a good idea as to whether either of these are true.
Why consider it, do it before you destroy your marriage. I would leave you if I was your wife because you’re the one allowing that to happen by having him move in with you.
Helpful Answer (17)

What is interesting is that his father mainly does it when the son is not around. So he must not be that out of control, he does not do it in front of a witness. So perhaps dementia removed part of the filter for this behavior but he can still turn it on or off. Mostly likely he has history of being verbally abusive to other women. Regardless, it is not acceptable and he must be moved.
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MountainMoose Jan 2020
Excellent point!
Your father isn’t capable of change, he’s a victim of the dementia he has and it’s beyond frustrating and sad. This doesn’t mean your wife should bear the meanness. Finding another place for your dad to live will help them both, your wife won’t be subjected to the abuse and your dad will be cared for by professionals who are trained in dementia care. You’ll still be a caregiver as you oversee your father’s care in a new setting
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