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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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Jeffery, my husband also had major delusions. I re read the warnings on Namenda and thought that build up the drug was the problem. By eliminating acidic foods and increasing water, the delusions have decreased tremendously. From the Namenda web site:
7 DRUG INTERACTIONS
7.1 Drugs that Make the Urine Alkaline
The clearance of memantine was reduced by about 80% under alkaline urine conditions at pH 8. Therefore, alterations of urine pH towards the alkaline condition may lead to an accumulation of the drug with a possible increase in adverse effects. Urine pH is altered by diet, drugs (e.g. carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, sodium bicarbonate) and clinical state of the patient (e.g. renal tubular acidosis or severe infections of the urinary tract). Hence, memantine should be used with caution under these conditions.
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CM
Watch out dementia may be catching!!!!!!!!!!!!! or have you been sampling that wine?
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My aunt was showing me photographs of a recent event and said with a fond smile "and there's Arthur!" Arthur, her husband, had died five years before. But it was I who felt confused, because when I looked closely at the photograph I really wasn't too sure whether it was Arthur or my cousin, who had aged into the living spit and image of his late father. I THINK my aunt was enjoying a little private joke. I'm still not completely sure...
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If she thinks you are her husband, who does she think your wife is? If she doesn't know who your wife is, or even if she does, her anger may be jealousy from seeing "her husband" with another woman.

Alzheimer's can bring a different reality to people, a reality that sometimes changes from day to day. In the early stages, comments and visual cues could sometimes bring my mom back to reality. Now that her disease has progressed, I am finding that is usually impossible and often provokes anger. Much easier to try to understand her reality of the moment or where she is in time. If you do that, her actions will often become logical and it becomes much easier to avoid things that would upset her and easier to create diversions that fit in with her reality.
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Try photos with names and dates. Some with your husband, his mom and dad so his mom can see the difference. I keep these in frames near where my dad sits. He tends to remember he and mom both as younger so this helps him remember that even tho I now have grey hair, I am there "kid". Sometimes I comment, who would have thought you'd see your children become old people!
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If you find it difficult to deal with this remember what the spouse would have been doing in that time frame and prepare to leave the room by saying 'It;s time to walk Spot(the dog of that time) or the horses think it's time to come in. It's so cold tonight" that way the thought process can be redirected, you leave the room and come back later,
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Such good advise. I wanted to caution you, if no one else has, that hallucinations can result from meds for urinary tract infection. UTI. My mom was accusing me of "coming on" to my dad who was a stepdad who adopted me. I was horrified! Thankfully I called someone who knew immediately what it was. Thankfully for her, she doesn't remember it.
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My Dad was living in an assisted living facility and would often confuse me with my deceased Mother. One day, I arrived to pick him up for a trip to the doctor and he said, "We're getting married today, aren't we?" I told Dad that we were going to see the doctor for a checkup (thinking I might distract him from the idea of marriage). Instead, he said,"But then we can go get married, right?" I didn't know what to say or where this idea had come from, but hoped he would forget it. Well, he did not and on our way out of the doctor's office, he said, "Are we going to get married now?" I was not prepared for the question and blurted out, "Dad, I cannot marry you, you are my Dad!" He laughed so hard and looked at me as if I were a complete idiot. He never asked me to marry him again. Then another day, I arrived at his room and he was frantic about helping put out the fire. "We cannot just sit here, we've go to help! Their barn is burning and I think there are animals in there!" I realized that he was watching Bonanza and the fire was on TV. Then I remembered that the day of the marriage proposal, he had been watching Bonanza and a couple was getting married. I soon realized that Dad's reality had become whatever he had been watching on TV. Don't know if that help's at all, but it did help us understand where some of Dad's thoughts came from.
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I'm in the go-along-with-it school of thought. She will forget the whole conversation/disagreement and move on so you need to do the same. My Father calls me his sister's name sometimes and my Mother's name sometimes. I don't correct him, but he doesn't get upset about very many things. I would suggest getting your Mother back to the doctor. I'm puzzled as to why she is on so many Alz. medications at this late stage? I understand using those drugs when the patient has most of their marbles left, but not now, when she can't recognize her family. Does her dr. have any experience with dementia/Alz.? My Dad is on Paxil and it helps with mood and the upset that goes along with confusion. Instead of slowing the progress of the disease at this stage the focus should be easing everyone's stress and giving her meds for her comfort. Sorry, that's just my non-medical opinion.
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For 6-1/2 yrs, my aunt, for home I was "her everything", believed I was her older sister (that would be my mom). Even back in the early 90's, the psychiatrist recommended not arguing with or correcting her. If one of the symptoms of a particular dementia patient's illness is mixing up who people are, it is okay, even preferable and healthier for them that you give yourself permission to slip into their reality. Being a good daughter, son, nephew, niece, etc., really any kind of caregiver, may involve becoming a good actor to keep the environment stable and stress free for the patient.
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This happened with my mother and brother who lived with her for awhile. She also confused my husband as her husband. Just ignore it and don't make a big deal about it. Change the subject or distract her another way. Those "smart vitamins" are just expensive pee, as today's MSN story talks about vitamins. Namenda and Exelon will not change her diagnosis, and I took my husband off them early on and he does so much better.
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Happens all the time - just another side show of this crazy disease. Deflection is best as one of the above posters mentioned. In my experience working in a geriatric facility it does seem to intensify as the dementia progresses. Trying to make her believe you are not her hubby is going to infuriate her because at that moment she thinks you are him! I take it one day at a time and when new behaviors pop up I deal with them the best that I can because trying to get the demented person to see reality is not...... well it is not realistic because they live in a world of their own making. It does take a toll mentally however - I hope that you get respite when needed.
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I hear this is very common for many of the reasons stated above. Try to go along with it for the moment...listen and let her say her piece, reminice or talk to you like you are the husband and then leave the room and come back later, likely the moment will pass and you can move onto something else.

Trying to correct her if she has dementia or ALZ won't help and just frustrate her.

It's creepy, but not uncommon.
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If it angers her when you tell her you are her son, not husband then let her believe you are her husband until she goes onto a new thought.. But you could show her pictures of your dad and tell her he's her husband and he passed away, but say it in a gentle way. And then tell her to really look at you and see that you are her son and that you love her and it's going to be alright.

You know music is very soothing for people with dementia, depression, really any kinds of mind or brain disturbances or diseases.. Do you know any music your mom was particularly fond of ie classical, be bop, jazz, on and on, you could play that music for her when she gets agitated thinking you are her husband and you denying it, and just hold her hand and rub her back and tell her " Mom it's okay, it's going to be okay, I'm here for you, I love you." I think it must be very scary for a person with dementia, I am positive a part of them knows what's going on, they cannot stop the deterioration so they lash out when confronted by their confusion. If you cannot think of any music she really liked you could buy some soothing meditation music ( I know Barnes & Noble , my fav store, sells those kinds of cds.). You could also, when she thinks you're her husband, divert her attention onto something else, like it may sound silly, but a music box that you wind up and the top moves, or say one of those cute press the paw stuffed animals that sing and dance, she might be interested in watching that. Or you could show her a book of beautiful nature photography or art work, etc. You could give her a big coloring book and crayons and try to get her to color, you can sit by her and color it might influence her to want to color and you can rub her back and tell her she's coloring so well.
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http://aja.sagepub.com/content/15/2/87.full.pdf

As my co-authored article site above entitled, Alzheimer's disease as a 'trip back in time' suggests when she time travels in her head back to your age time frame and you resemble her husband that where the mismatch occurs. As our article suggests they time travel revisiting earlier stages of their life. So that family members who are younger who resemble another family member become that member for the person with dementia. This phenomena also explains why you see AD persons talking to the mirror in their bathrooms. When they are 83 and time travel in their heads back to age 23 and look in the mirror they wonder who is this old woman in my bathroom mirror and talk to the woman. Does this make sense?
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This is common with dementia. Short term memory is gone and long term memory is more intact. Perhaps you look like your Dad did at the same age? She can function in the long term memory and perhaps, doesn't even remember your Dad is no longer around. I find with my Dad, that 'correcting' sometimes triggers the anger responses. He sometimes thinks my Mom is HIS Mom, and they didn't even look alike, but he doesn't 'remember' Mom as being 88 yrs old. If I gently reorient him....or gently tell him his Mom or other relatives he speaks of, are no longer with us, he is OK with that, but other times he will insist that I don't know what I am talking about. If he argues, I just go along with him, and change the subject as it seems appropriate. Sometimes, I can reorient him to 'today' by pointing out that he is now 91 yrs old and Mom is now 88....and he will come to his own conclusion..." OH...well if I am 91, I guess my Mom cannot still be alive, right?".....Before I understood better, I used to have trouble going along with my Dad's messed up thinking....because, you know, we aren't supposed to 'lie' to our parents. But I've learned, he won't remember what I say anyhow, so, for example, he will say something like, " I need Mother's phone number, so I can talk to her..." and I won't argue, but I'll just say, " Gee, I am sorry you don't have it. How bout I bring it next time I come?" He'll say, " OK that will work. I don't have any emergency, but I just want to talk to her..." And I'll ask what he wants to talk about....and we'll start talking about his mother and whatever he wanted to share with her. He's happy that he 'can talk to her tomorrow'....and immediately forgets. I've never gone the next day and had him say, " YOU SAID you were going to bring......" He just doesn't remember the conversation....sometimes it's totally gone in just a few minutes and never comes up again. So try to see what may have made her angry...as dcoach said, or use the deflection as allofme suggests. And it IS hard to try to remember this. I find if I lead a conversation with Dad to talking about anything related to 'long ago'....we have GREAT conversations.....so when she thinks you are your dad, try talking with her on that level and ask something like, " Well, what was one of the things we used to do together that you remember the best?" or " remember when went on that trip to ..... what did you enjoy most about it?" or just have conversations as though you ARE your dad that reaffirms their life together and how much she was loved....or IS loved.....
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I have no advice but would like to add I'm experiencing something like with my 93-yr-old mom. Sometimes she thinks I am her sister, which I am glad she had a good relationship with. NancyH's smooching comment did make me chuckle!
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I am sorry for situation, my is 97 , says I am her older sister and takes all her anger out on me. I have learned to just accept it and not think about what she says or does. Of course she has never been violent. That comes with loss of memory and focus. She is still your Mom and you know who you are . So just love at her worst or best whatever . I hope you the best . It is so hard on you ,I know
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This happened on a regular basis when my m-i-l lived with us. She yelled at my husband for coming out of my bedroom! Mostly, he just played along with it. When she was hospitalized with pneumonia, he even called her "Millie," which was what his father called her. Seemed to make her happy. Keeping her happy was important to us. She eventually got so bad that we had to put her into a home.
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My MIL is 97 with dementia and she often calls my husband, (her son) Daddy or Dave, her deceased husband's name. Not sure if she thinks he is those people or just confusing the names. She never calls him by his real name.
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