My 87-year-old mom is convinced my 84-year-old dad is having an affair with the maid who cleans their house twice a month. Any suggestions? - AgingCare.com

My 87-year-old mom is convinced my 84-year-old dad is having an affair with the maid who cleans their house twice a month. Any suggestions?

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My mom has had many health issues, meds, hospital stays in last 5 years. My dad has been her primary caretaker. He's exhausted and now says they should separate. She is not independent at all. She believes she can live alone & says she's not leaving her house. My dad says he is not having an affair but can't take the berating anymore. Any suggestions?

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The accusation of spouse having an affair is common in dementia. Paranoia in general is common, and it is (thankfully!) often a temporary phase that passes.

My husband's accusations of me involved mostly money. That was horrible enough. I can't imagine having to deal with claims of infidelity. I am really sympathetic to your dad. This happened to me early in the dementia, before I had learned much about it. It MIGHT help your dad to know that this is a common symptom of dementia and not something personal about their relationship. Another thing that might help is finding and attending a support group for caregivers of person with dementia.

Also, it helps to understand that you cannot reason a person with dementia out of a delusion. It won't help to argue that of course he isn't having an affair and to get defensive. I'm not suggesting he "admit" an affair! Certainly not! But trying to talk Mom out of this notion is wasted effort. If she brings it up with you, Grace, you might try being sympathetic and comforting. "Oh, Mom! You must feel absolutely terrible to think Dad might be having an affair. That must hurt you and scare you. I am so sorry you are having these feelings. Something must be happening to make you feel this way, but I know that Dad is absolutely faithful to you."

But what Dad needs more than anything is respite -- a break from the caregiving, some time to himself. He has been dealing with Mom's health issues for five years. Even without the dementia that would be exhausting.

An Adult Day Health Program (adult day care) is one thing to consider. If Mom could go to this "club" a few days a week, Dad would have have some time to himself and Mom would have some social activities.

Having in-home care for her a day or two a week might provide the same kind of break.

If they need to "separate" more consistently, it would be ideal for Mom to be in a care center, where Dad could spend as much or as little time with her as suited him.

Having Mom seen by a geriatric psychiatrist would be an excellent step in determining what is needed going forward.
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Additionally, can you get mom seen by a geriatric psychiatrist? Meds may help reduce the delusions.
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Grace, I see from your profile that your Mom has Alzheimer's/Dementia, and sadly a person with such memory issues accusing others is a stage many go through. Your Dad must be so overwhelmed. No wonder he wants to leave. No one person can be a caregiver for 168 hours a week with no time off, plus being accused of something he is not doing.

By chance, could your parents afford for Mom to spend a week or two in respite care at a local Assisted Living/Memory Care facility? That would give Dad a much needed break, plus a trial run to see if Mom would like Memory Care for the future.

Or check out professional caregivers who are familiar with dementia and know how to roll with it. Maybe someone to come in daily for 3 or 4 hours, so your Dad can re-group, go to a movie, or a walk, or meet other guys for coffee. Again, it depends if your parents budget allows it, and here is the BIG if, if your Mom will allow a stranger in the house.

Food for thought.
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