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I'm new to this forum and came across this via Google. I do not know where to go to get my parents help. My apologies for this being long, but it involves two people and I would appreciate any insight you can provide based on your experiences.


Both my parents are in their 70's. They recently sold their house to move closer to me and my family to be near their grandchildren and help us out. I've heard stories from my brother and some from my mother about my dad's behavior. Most of my life he was an unsavory character that would like to get to people's emotions just for kicks. Growing up he would embarrass us in public with weird questions and behaviors. This has continued, although it seems like my mom's new thing is that he's been cheating on her (well new as in the last 10 years). I'm not sure if any of it is true, but judging by some of her outrageous stories like middle-aged women climbing onto the roof of the house, I'm guessing it's not. Still, that has not stopped her from getting a full on security system and making my dad a prisoner in his own home where she holds all the keys and even then she still accuses him. She recently told me that he confessed to her about having an affair 15 years ago, but this is the first I am hearing of this so I'm not sure if it's true either.


When they sold their house and moved here, I naively thought that a new life with their grandkids would dissolve all of this, but two weeks into moving into their apartment my mom is accusing my dad of infidelity again. She always claims she finds things like grass on the floor or dog hairs in the car and they don't own a dog. Recently she said that she caught him red-handed an old woman that must of been in their bedroom and she came in and out of the window. Now again not sure if any of this is true, but I doubt an old woman would be limber enough to climb through a window, but maybe I'm wrong.


My dad's immediate reaction is to lose his temper to the point that he breaks furniture. It's gotten so bad in public that stores and places have had to question his behavior. They get into terrible fights to the point that the cops have showed up. Again, I thought this would stop once they moved, but I recently found out that the cops had to come to their apartment.


I'm at a loss. My mom accuses me of not believing her and I'm really tired of her and my dad's irrational behavior which is not limited to just losing his temper. I've caught him antagonizing my dog to the point my dog bit him and antagonizing my 4-year-old daughter to the point that she cries. I've also caught both of them lying to me in order to manipulate the stories to their advantage. I don't know what to do at this point. I'm not sure if they are exhibiting signs of dementia or what.


My mom also has a tendency to completely change the subject of a conversation we are having or redirecting it as if I was not talking at all. I'm not sure if that's a sign of dementia or hearing loss. And my dad just acts strange. It's hard to explain, but he will will randomly spill things or hurt himself for no reason. He also brings weird things into our house. I've often found him passed out with a cigar on his lips about to fall on him and he's covered in cigar holes in his clothes.


I just want to get my parents the help they need, but I don't know where to start. They both deny anything is wrong with them. Sometimes I wonder if they are just gas lighting each other. I always feel like I am pitted between them and supposed to take sides. I would appreciate any help and or experiences you may have. Thank you for reading this.

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It honestly doesn't sound much like dementia. When dementia starts, behaviors like this don't just suddenly happen. It starts with them forgetting little things. They might forget where their keys are, or where they put something. It then goes to them forgetting dates. Anniversary's, birthdays, and so on. It gradually gets worse from there. It's often in severe dementia that they start getting aggressive. When dementia is severe they have trouble remembering everything. Even who you are, or their own name. My Grandma has severe Alzheimer's, and when the doctors asked her name, she said Ellen. Ellen is her daughter. Then when they asked her age, she said 53. She's 91. Ellen is 62, so I know it couldn't of been that. She doesn't recognize me half the time. It's funny when she starts gossiping false information about me, to me. I just keep thinking, I had no idea that happened. My life sounds interesting.

Anyways, what it sounds like is possibly just them growing apart. It can happen to anyone. What you should look into is possibly a marriage councilor or therapist. Their primary or insurance can refer you to one if need be. They might also be depressed or stressed out. Try getting them out, separate not together. Go out to brunch, go see a movie. Take them to the park for a picnic. Just get their minds off things. Them maybe come over an offer to help make dinner, or to help clean house. Make things a little easier and more fun for them. Maybe even family game night? Get everyone together. Kids love game nights too
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Thank you for your help! I've tried to get everyone together but the last two times we have invited them over for dinner there has been a huge fight about my dad's philandering and they cancel on us the last minute.

I don't understand how my dad can philander. He falls asleep all the time. We have gone to public places to eat and he has fallen asleep at the table. I've been trying to do this whole family thing but according to my mom my dad says he's bored. He wants to go do something which is hard for us for the time being with a 1 month old baby.

I'm really sad about all this. My whole life I've never asked for anything and the moment I think I can have a healthy relationship with my parents it all boils down to me being their shrink.
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Do your parents have a doctor that they see for their general health? It sounds as though they both have mental health issues that need to be dealt with.

Get them to their doctor and explains about your mom's delusions and your father's loss of emotional control and erratic behavior.

I would not allow them near young children.
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How do I go about doing that with patient privacy? My parents won't let me accompany them. Can I call the doctor and let them know? Is that ok?
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You can TELL the doctor anything you care to. The doctor can't divulge information to you.
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You might also look up the rules governing involuntary psychiatric admissions in your state.
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It may be too bad that your parents moved closer to you. Sounded like a good idea at the time, huh?

It sounds like you father is as he has always been only more so. ("The older I get, the more like myself I become.") I would be very careful about how much exposure my children had to this man. I would be firm about stopping him when he is being cruel. You couldn't depend yourself as a child, but you certainly should defend your own children.

As to your mother, she is definitely experiencing some kind of mental health issue. Could it be dementia? Well, yes it could, but that is not the only possibility. As KayKay describes it, dementia (especially Alzheimer's) usually comes on gradually, and starts with memory issues. But sudden onset dementia (not gradual!) is not unheard of, and there are about 50+ types of dementia besides ALZ. In Lewy Body Dementia, for example, the earliest symptoms may not be memory at all, but hallucinations and delusions.

So, who knows what is wrong with your mother? Getting her to a doctor would be a good idea. Since they have recently moved I assume they'll need new doctors. If at all possible steer them toward a geriatrician. These people specialize in older adults just as pediatrician specialize in children. And I think it would be a very good idea to list your concerns about mom and give it to the doctor before her first visit.

Whatever is causing her paranoid delusions, I doubt you'll be able to talk her out of them. Usual advice is to Not Argue. Obviously you are not going to agree, either. Try to stay neutral. "Oh mom, how very awful and angry that must make you feel if dad is seeing other women! I know that was a problem in the past, but I thought he has cleaned up his act." "Gee, Mom, someone sneaking in or out of the bedroom window seems kind of unlikely, don't you think? Tell you what, next time you think that is happening call me right away and I'll play Sherlock Holmes and see what I can discover."

Aside from health issues, it sounds like there is a long-standing dysfunctional marriage here. You may be able to help with health issues, but stay out of their marriage! This is well beyond something an adult child can fix.
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This may not be a sudden onset of this behavior.

Because my Mom and Dad lived independently until a year ago...no one really knew the full extent of the "issues" my Dad had. Dementia on a full blown scale. Only person who knew was Mom, and she wasn't talking to anyone about it. Oh, occasionally she would mention some odd event...but, never really let on just how weird he had become.

We the family lawyer and I had me assigned guardian, my Dad was going to fight that tooth and nail. So, when all the specialist and the lawyer come to evaluate my Dad...I told them....ask him to pay a bill. Hand him the latest Electric utility bill and the check book....ask him to pay the bill and log the entry into the register. Of course, he didn't understand any of it. But, he got real mad and threw a fit....his way of covering for his deficiency.

For years he had been accusing my Mom of having another man in the house at night.

What we learned was...he had advanced hydrocephalus. The noise in his head, the dementia all caused by ever increasing fluid pressure in his head. Way past the point where anything could be done.

Anyway, do not discount dementia just because it seems like new behavior to you...you just might be the last to know is all
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Your parents are in their 70's so would first make sure they get their POA's in order or recommend it. You can call their doctor and ask for private call with them. Expect to pay $$ out of pocket but it will be worth it to get the ball rolling. Tell the doctor you are NOT their POA's but for the safety of society, you would highly recommended that their primary doctor give them individually a basic congnitive test. Your father, in his unappropriateness is showing definitely signs of dementia. I would not allow him near the dog or your kids anymore until he gets checked out. And don't feel bad about telling him so. As for your Mom, would just tell her to be safe she should get checked out too... and if the Doctor is in doubt, they will recommend a neurologist... there are meds to help with behavioral problems and they work wonders. And don't let yourself end up being the referee between your parents... try to have a relationship with each of them and let them know you are doing all of this out of love and for your (all 3+ of you) future relationships together. Good luck to you.
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Talk to their family physician - and suggest that maybe they need to be scheduled for some testing. They did a PET Scan on my dad for Parkinson's and found Early Onset Alzheimer's instead. It's a non-invasive test that checks the brain. I believe he had been sent to a Neurologist who then scheduled the test.

Always start with their family physician. Even if they cannot disclose information to you - you can disclose information to their physicians.
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It sounds like your parents have been this way for a long time .. your father most definitely. Please keep them away from your children ... your father is abusive.
As to dementia, that is a complicated thing that only a doctor can diagnose. In as much as they are not declared "incompetent", you have no power to get them to a doctor or make any decisions on their behalf.
It is a difficult situation to say the least. Please put your children (if they are under age 18 and living at home) FIRST.
Wish I had more to offer ... perhaps others. Also, you can see a therapist yourself for guidance on how to handle this situation.
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Hope this helps https://myageingparent.com/health/mental-health/what-to-do-if-you-think-your-parent-has-dementia/
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electric, this is so not fair and it may pay to look at the good things: you don't have to do any 'counseling' or be a go-between because they are not just a couple having marriage issues; and their problems are more apparent now, so you know they need help. I too think this has been the case for one or both for perhaps years already. I agree about getting a counselor or coach for you. If they have any doctor already, ask if the doctor's office has any 'navigator' or 'concierge' service available to help you take successive steps in referrals. Call your county's council on aging. Find a good phrase for your parents, like you want them to go to the doctor about the stress they're experiencing; tell your mom we need to get dad in because his philandering is a classic sign of 'X'? This can be so intimidating, and will be a bit of a project for you for a while, can you psych yourself up for it? So glad you found this site! As your questions change, just post a new question. GOOD luck, god bless. 💐
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Hi-First of all, you have now entered the Club; 'Parenting your parents and caring for them because you love them'...I completely empathize with you but you have a different kind of path ahead of you. You have to accept it ...Secondly, you need to start documenting each of your parents behavior. Then you need to get that info to their doctors.
Regarding your dad; it sounds to me (I'm no doctor but I have taken care of both my parents for the last 5 yrs ( and each of them at different ends of the spectrum so I know a little about what you are going thru. Since they're not my parents, I don't know the complete emotional attachment to this situation you are experiencing. ) It almost sounds like he's having a medical issue; like perhaps maybe a tumor or chemical imbalance of some kind, but it doesn't appear to be dementia. If he's done/said these things most of his life then it's definitely a medical issue.
Regarding your mom; it sounds like dementia.
Doctors don't really start to look at these issues unless someone else close to them lets the doctors know. Patients put on a good front to their doctors because they don't want to be considered 'crazy'(speaking from experience !!!) ...I felt terrible whenever I gave my notes to each of my parents' doctors, but it makes the medical care more exact and the doctors actually appreciate the 'real' things going on - after all, they are DOCTORS who are there to help...they were very supportive of ME once they knew the real story of each of my parents.
Talk to the doctor !!! Either slip the notes to the receptionist when the other parent isn't looking (have them sit down first and you check them in) , mail it to them, or give it to the medical assistant as they leave the exam room (my mother had the Alzheimers dementia and never noticed me slip it to the MA !!!)
The most important thing to ALWAYS KNOW is to maintain your parents dignity !!! VERY, VERY important...
And, to make sure either you or someone else close has the DPOA already taken care of so you have a little more ability to take care of important things instead of waiting til it's more difficult...
Get those notes to your dad's doctor ASAP, and also your mom's...I got Mom help at the early stage and was beneficial which allowed for better future planning. Help your parents, and help yourself. The bond you create with your parents' doctors is extremely important and beneficial to all involved...the doctors may have no idea of these issues and incidents (give specific info when informing the doctors) and once they know, they will start checking on it asap in their medical way.
I can't stress this enough...good luck to you. :)
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Listen to everyone who advises not letting your parents near young children. In addition to consulting doctors, start gathering information about nursing homes.
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You have a lot of symptoms that sounds like dementia. I just read this article about hearing loss and dementia on Seniors Matter
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Hello,
I would take to their primary physician first. Are you on their health care proxy? If not, then try to do it otherwise you will not be able to obtain any information regarding their mental/physical health. That said, dementia can come on very slow and the initial signs can be dismissed. My friend noticed her mother's personality became very 'flat' for while...turned out that was the beginning of alzheimers. My father has lewey body dementia and he hallucinates. Any unusual or different behaviors as they age, I would question.
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I started going with my Mom several years ago. She could never remember what the doctor said and that was the only way I could know what the doctor said! I don't know if that is possible for you to do, but it helps! Now, since my Mom has been diagnosed with dementia, both of my brothers and I all three go with her! When we finally suspected drmentia, I wrote all the weird things she was doing and slipped it to the nurse as she was leaving. The same way, my brothers had her occupied so she never realized I had done that! Her doctor sent her to a Neurologist, who then sent her to a Neuto-psychologist! The only problem with that is that the first one diagnosed her with Vascular Dementia and the 2nd one diagnosed her with Lewy Body Dementia. Your Mom sounds like symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia with the delusional behavior! Also, it is common for some to become aggressive with Dementia! My prayers are with you! This is not an easy road to travel! It is possible that you get the 'blame' for their Dementia, if that is what is wrong! My Mom would tell me that I told the doctors to give her Dementia! OMG! I couldn't believe it! Good luck!
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Oh my, I can relate. My parents moved 4 houses down from me about 13 years ago. It was nice until it became clear that their relationship had deteriorated since they had become empty-nesters. I have been playing marriage counselor for a decade. It sucks to be placed in that position and it's not fair. It has turned out, however, that my dad did develop dementia and it likely came on slowly and could have been a catalyst to some of the bizarre behavior I have witnessed between them. His dementia became apparent 3-4 years ago but he was likely struggling with it earlier. His dementia became clear when he could no longer manage their money (such as the check book) and started doing things he did not remember later (such as cashing in a life insurance policy and not telling my mom). 

At first I cried a lot after my visits to their house, watching the way they treated each other and begging them to "please be nice" to each other! After 2 years or so of this, I put up my wall of protection and realized their self destructive behavior had been going on for a while and had become their way of life. I recently placed my dad in a facility, I had to. His dementia got worse and they constantly picked at each other. 

Take care of yourself and your children first. Realize that you can't control or change another's behavior. The nasty personality traits could be the early signs of dementia. Keep an eye out for changes in money management, organization and care of the home, and personal hygiene. Those were the signs that slowly evolved in my parents' case. I wish you well, squabbling negative parents can drag down your life.
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Sounds like your dad has always been cruel and an instigator, and your mom has been worn down by all of it. Doesn't necessarily sound like dementia, but more like your dad has made her crazy and paranoid. She would probably be a lot happier if she could be on an antidepressant like Lexapro, something lower dose just to take the edge off things. Why in the world did she stay with him all these years and put up with his emotional abuse? She would probably benefit from some counseling, like cognitive behavioral therapy. Your dad would benefit more from psychotherapy, and he may be bi polar or something. DO NOT leave him alone around children or pets!!!
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How can you not be sure that an old woman climbed in the window? Your mother definitely must be having hallucinations and it sounds as though you father has problems as well. Writing up notes for the doctor and giving them to him/her would be very helpful for the doctor and important to help you parents. I believe you need a diagnosis for both of them.
Wishing you the very best on this difficult road.
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Try Teepa's Gems - there is much info that you can go to - best thing to do is educate yourself - could be dementia as a move can trigger the signs that were hidden in routine, familiarity of surroundings etc - those signs might have been there but somewhat hidden but now exposed

By the way saying spouse was unfaithful is common - usually unfounded - do not argue with her but ask for details so she knows you are taking her seriously which you are but not how she means it - deflection may become a new talent - NEVER PROMISE ANYTHING you can let them think you have but don't actually do it because that will add to your stress

Get some 1 on 1 councelling or education - you are being a bit unrealistic in wanting to have the perfect family at this stage - you may have to give this up for your actual family - there a quite a few threads here that can assist you - keep your sense of humour as you'll need it -
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It took years for us to finally accept the fact that Mom had dementia.We were confused with my mom's behavior. We thought she was just getting mean because so much of the time she seemed normal. She hid it so well and kept it at bay by constantly trying to learn new things and then telling us how smart she was. It would have been so much easier to deal with had we actually known she had dementia. At the beginning, and for several years, she was able to fool some doctors, even a neurologist. She looked up a simple test on line and prepared to be able to answer the questions. Do not delay getting them to a doctor who will, hopefully order tests and refer them to specialists. Most likely you will need to tell the doctor what is going on before you take the parents in. The doctor should take it from there. If the first doctor is not helpful don't give up. Keep looking until you find the kind of help you need. God bless you! This is probably the hardest thing you have had to face.
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Health care power of atty. is very important... it gives you the 'power' to discuss and receive information with a parent's doctors, attend doctor appointments etc. Cooperative, reasonable parents usually welcome adult children to attend their doctor appts. with or without Health Care POA. However, your parents sound so dysfunctional, they may not be able to comprehend establishing POA and Health Care POA is for THEIR best interests. OH! MY! I'm so sorry... and they're only in their 70's... ! Is there any chance they would meet with a good lawyer and get their HCPOA set up for you (if you want that job... that is...!) I've been my mother's HC POA for 10 years and it has consumed most of my life, taking her to all her appts and interceding with doctors and her health care as she declines physically and mentally.. but her STRENGTH of WILL has yet to decline (and she'll be 97 in June!!)
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Oh, my, I recognize this crazy behavior. It reminds me of my experience. Your parents have other issues besides potential dementia. You have probably grown accustomed to your dad's raging and bad behavior but it is not normal. In my life, I had to get professional help to learn to set boundaries and protect my children from the weirdness I experienced as a child. Did your father ever drink too much? Or your mother? I know you love your parents but your job now is YOUR family and they should come first. I believe in honoring my parents and I also believe that I should owe my parents too much money, love and care just because they had me. Your parents dysfunction can ruin your life with your husband and children if you aren't aware of it.

From personal experience, my father-in-law had bipolar disorder and it got more intense when he got older. My mother has always been slightly paranoid and ill-at-ease. Age and the onset of dementia has made it worse. She also gets memories confused and dreams up things that didn't happen. And usually those things are about someone or something that's "out to get her".

So, yes, do what you can to get her tested. (My mom just thinks that is crazy because there is nothing wrong with her) Be aware that they will be mean to you because they will be mad. And do some personal work to make sure you aren't accepting bad behavior because you are used to it. My marriage would be a shambles if I didn't put my husband and children above my parents needs.
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Every form of dementia presents itself differently depending on the person. Ask their doctor to do an assessment or refer them to a neurologist who can do a more thorough work up. My husband has mild cognitive impairment (dementia by the new terms) and began going almost psychotic, accusing me of all sorts of things I was not doing and becoming quite violent when I denied it. Turns out the medications he was taking was causing most of the problems. If you are able to get a list of the medications your parents are taking, do an online check of side effects and also talk with a pharmacist. It took 3 weeks in the geropsych ward of the hospital to get my husband's meds adjusted properly. The other thing I would urge you to do is to get at least a medical power of attorney so you are able to attend your parents' doctor visits, etc. Their doctor may be able to help you in encouraging your parents to do this. Good luck and may God bless.
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Hello Elctrcldylnd,
Not sure how involved you've been in your parents medical care. That is one of the most important factors in their lives as well as yours. There may be so many illnesses involved here. Your mom may be suffering from an infection (UTI) that maybe causing her behavior or some other illness. The same for your dad. He may just need to talk to some totally different from family. You need to let them know you love them and are very worried about their heslth. Try to get them to trust in you and TAKE them to a doctor. My sister and I would just tag along with my mom to her appointments. Once we were in the doctors office there was not much mom could do about it. And we just kept telling mom we had to be there because if something ever happened to her and needed to be rushed to hospital we could tell the nurses about her health history. Also, mom would behave better when the doctor was around. Mom's doctor would explain to mom the importance of us being involved in her health and she listened. As for your dad maybe have your brother deal with your dad and have him help with your dad. Not sure how far you will get without a doctors diagnose.
Good luck and god bless.
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This hits close to home on a couple of counts: My hubby is becoming angrier and meaner as he ages (he's 65). He enjoys needling people until they want to smack him. He has always been that way, but then if, confronted says "Oh I was just joking, get over it". Well the kids "get over it" by packing up THEIR kids and leaving. Hubby is FINALLY in counseling, but I have no idea what is going on with that as he refuses to talk to me. I'm pretty sure he's snowed his therapist into believing I am the wacky one and he is the patient, loving, much-maligned husband. I wonder what your dad thinks about himself? If he even does? Sadly, people DO seem to be "more themselves" as they age. You can step and let him dr know what is going on, but a PCP won't do much. This sounds like a pathology that's many years in the making.
Your mom sounds a little addled--but I don't really know if that's dementia. My mother is beginning to slip into dementia, but you'd only notice it if you spent more than 1/2 hour with her. In 1 hr's time, last week, she went from "normal" to "out of it" as we talked and she had to stay on track. It's a fairly slow moving disease, and there is not much to be done.
I'm sorry for your situation. DON'T get embroiled in their marriage dynamic--that's not your place. I know my hubby and I, while we do not openly fight, are really struggling to find balance now we're empty nesters and we have NOTHING in common.
They could likely benefit from some cognitive behavioral therapy--but I doubt they'd ever go. You have to WANT to get better, not be forced into it. Good luck--and you keep your kiddoes safe. You can control how much time they are exposed to gma and gpa and maybe it needs to be next to none.
The advice to get POA is good--then when the time comes,. you will have some power. Good Luck.
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My mother has mild dementia. First it started with absentmidedness. It has progressed now to paranoia and mistrust. She suspects my dad of things he never would do, and also thinks he deserts her when she "sees" him as other people. We are not clear yet if this is all dementia or psychiatric as well. We have found a good neurologist and geriatric specialist and tests are pending.
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There is so much good advice on this thread! Just want to add for your dad, frontotemporal dementia might be something to take into consideration.

Also I know of two ladies (my grandma's neighbor and a friend's neighbor) who both hallucinated ladies climbing in and out of windows. Both were diagnosed with dementia. My friend's neighbor was diagnosed with vascular.

You have your hands full! Best of luck as you start this process.
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