Mom with Alzheimer's confuses son as her husband. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

Mom with Alzheimer's confuses son as her husband. Any advice?

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I have an 83 year old mother with Alzheimer's disease who is living with us. I am her son in her 50s and she lives with me and my wife. She has had delusions and hallucinations in the past, but we have managed to help calm her down. However, last night she started believing that I am her husband and started to get violently angry about it. Has any other sons or daughters of Alzheimer's patients had this problem? What did you do? It gets very awkward. She is on Namenda, Exelon Patch daily, and on mild amounts of Trazodone at bed time. Previously her Geriatric Psychiatrist has not wanted to give her anything for anxiety or depression. He gave me "smart food" vitamins to give her.

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here is a funny story- I had to take my father in law to it a OBGYN appointment with as i was pregnant with his fifth grandchild. the waiting room was full. He looked at me and asked why I was at the doctor and I told him it was for the baby. He looked at me and said "it is not mine so by which men do you have this baby because there are 5"! he was referring to his 5 sons and could not remember which son I was married to - needless to say it was a very embarrassing moment. keeping a sense of humor is absolutely a must.
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what triggered her anger? I say go with the flow at every opportunity possible. If she just is calling you her husband then just go with it. She may have gotten angry because you told her that she was wrong. So I think based on the other answers to your questions - stating what the trigger was would be helpful to get better informed answers
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Always remember to keep your sense of humor. That helps. Occasionally, we find a moment that we can chuckle about, even though the whole process is rather depressing. The other day, my father in law had a visit from his sister in law. He was not sure who she was, so she introduced herself. He got angry and told her " You cannot be her. YOU ARE TOO OLD and your HAIR IS WHITE." She wasn't sure how to handle it, so she excused herself and came back a bit later. He had forgotten the incident and they went on to have a nice visit with the rest of the family. We still chuckle about the "you are too old" comment. What else can you do???
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Jeffrey - you sound a little shocked (?) at quite how ready people are to recommend that your mother should be banged up in the nearest facility in short order! - but there is an important point to be made about the context.

We hear from a good many people who are living with their parent, enduring devastation of their home and family life (which also affects the cared-for person), struggling to provide the skilled care the parent needs - and who still won't even consider the option of placing the parent, not because of practical objections but because they fear guilt.

These people need to hear that there can be incredibly good reasons for throwing in the towel. Understanding offered by others on the forum can help them to accept - where it is the case - that their best intentions to care for their parent will not always make it possible for them to do so. It gives them a kind of moral permission to look at their situation more objectively, and perhaps consider options that had previously seemed tabu but which could in reality improve the quality of life of all concerned - not least the person they care for, with love.

I'm glad you're not in that situation; and I sympathise with your reaction, because my three siblings seem to me to hover like vultures waiting for the moment when I'll admit that I can't cope with caring for our mother at home - they'd have her in residential care so fast her feet wouldn't touch the ground - and I don't find it very supportive!

I'm touched by your belief that the caregiving role will become increasingly shared between the sexes. Don't think I'll hold my breath on that one… But there are some wonderful male caregivers on the forum - if you'd like their perspective, try posting a shout-out to them?
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My mother has thought my brother is her husband since about a month after they moved her in with them. She has been living there for almost a year!!! It is hard on my brother but he just tells her that he is her son and then she just says "I know" and giggles (she does this with a lot of things). She has been obsessed with him being her "hubby" and talks about him all the time when she is at my house (I watch her during the day when they are at work). She'll say stuff like "Now if Hank (nickname of my deceased father) would just come and get me I'd be happy" or "Hank is so good to me" or my favorite when he comes to get her is "There's my Hanky" and I just reply to all of them with a gentle correction and we move on to a different topic : ) Luckily my mom hasn't gotten openly angry about it but she does say things occasionally about my SIL and gives them dirty looks when they try to spend time together in front of her.
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Thanks for your feedback. I don't think setting a boundary means that mother immediately must go to an ALF or NH, nor is that a practical option. I appreciate your comments, but I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

I was actually hoping to get some male comments, and I see almost all of the comments are by female caregivers. It seems like there are mostly female caregivers today, but I believe we will see that change over time.
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Jeffrey20832, I can see the point you make about honor and respect to your wife. I think you should consider more space between your family and your Mother. Maybe an ALF or NH. I am surprised by your stand on this subject. I don't consider it disrespectful to my husband to go along with being called my Mothers name. My husband doesn't consider it disrespectful either. He supports whatever it takes to keep the peace and help the one who is ill. My Father climbed into bed with me once because he thought I was his wife and I panicked over that. Now I sleep with the bedroom door locked. That's the only boundary I have, but to each his own. You seem very inflexible on this issue and your Mother is only going to get worse. It's not her fault and she can't change so you should think about moving her out of your home.
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You have to understand that at that moment to her, you are really her husband and anything you do to try to convince her otherwise will only make the situation worse. You and your wife are going to have to come to grips with that or put her in a facility that can. It is a disease and your mother can't change her reality of the moment and neither can you. You as a person with a whole mind have to deal with it the best you can.

Just try to imagine how you would react if your wife and everyone else in your life suddenly told you that your wife was actually your daughter and not your wife and to top it off there was a strange man in your house who everyone said was your wife's real husband.
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I appreciate the answers, and certainly the need for patience and distraction on such issues is always necessary. As everyone noted, my mother forgot about this by the next morning, and we never discussed it.

The previous night she started talking about me as being her husband, and why was this other woman (my wife) there in the house, what was my plan with having this other woman there, etc. I guess if this happened again, I would try to get her out of the room with my wife. But in that circumstance, it wasn't going to happen.

I tried to calm her, change the subject, etc., but she was stuck on this subject.

In theory, I understand the need to go along with the delusions and fibbing to go along and keep the Alzheimer's sufferer calm. But when your wife is sitting there and is a co-caretaker sacrificing for your mother, it is very uncomfortable to deny who your wife is in front of her face. We have made many, many sacrifices for my family, my father who passed away years ago, and my mother now with Alzheimers. Denying the identity of my wife just seems like a line that I am unwilling to cross. I know we need to ignore what they say, as they can't understand things, but I just think we still need to have some boundaries in our family to show respect to caregivers as well.

Well, of course, trying to explain things also didn't work. I had a photo of my late father and I, and I showed it to her. I gently and calmed explained things, and I pointed out how we looked different (I have a beard and moustache; my late father didn't, among many differences in appearance.) No, that didn't work.

My mother dug in her heels and started to get violently angry that I (as her "husband") was cheating on her with this other woman (my wife). I didn't fight with her, but I wasn't going to lie about my wife. My mother was violently angry. She said things I won't repeat. But it was embarrassing and awkward. We finally got things calmed down, very late in the night. It was horrible. But I still don't think I would have denied who my wife is. I am sure my mother will get violently angry about other things as well. But I think I need to have some loyalty to the identify of my wife as well. I just don't feel it is right to my wife and the dignity that she too deserves.

The other delusions and hallucinations we have been able to deal with, but this one was really tough. I know a lot of people have said just go along with it, and I understand your point, of course, since that is what I do most of the time.

But to you daughters, I would ask you if your Alzheimer's father decided that you were his wife, and that you needed to deny who your husband is in front of his face, is that really a good idea for your marriage?

I really wasn't comfortable doing that with my wife. Certainly that is wrong as a caregiver. But my wife deserves respect as well. This is a marathon struggle, and I need all the help I can get, including showing my wife that I honor who she is as well.
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All good suggestions. Don't 'fight' with the person or try to correct them. Just go with it a bit. Then change the subject or talk about something else. Nothing you can do really, to change their mind.
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