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My parents were married 26 years and it was very unhappy. They divorced and it was quite messy. Dad remarried a great lady and were together until she passed away 25 years later. Now my dad is in Assisted Living and talks constantly about how awful my mom was/is, personal information that no child should hear about their parents and how he was screwed out of money. I always let him know that he should be thinking about the good times he had with his 2nd wife and not dwell on bad times. I get upset with these stories and can't hold a conversation with him that doesn't involve this topic. He is also telling this to my step brothers & sisters and anyone else he finds. Some details are very embarrassing and inappropriate and it makes me uncomfortable. Should I just ignore everything? Cut him off everytime he brings it up? Other suggestions?

He needs to talk to a third party listener, perhaps a therapist. Maybe every time he brings it up, tell him you will arrange for a therapist to help him deal with his negative feelings. I agree with the others that there must be some dementia especially if he wasn't complaining about this in the intervening 25 years. Sometimes sadness comes out as anger.
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Reply to Evanie
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I didn’t read any mention of dementia. People with dementia talks about older events in their life, and with exaggeration
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Reply to ElMa10r
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Tell him that you don't want to talk about your mom with him.

If he doesn't stop, walk away, hang up or disengage. You don't have to be his dumping ground for all his garbage.

Dementia is not a free pass to hurt others. You don't deserve to be subjected to his hateful memories. I am sure living with it growing up was more than enough.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Imho, you should refuse to engage in any convo involving your own mother. You could say - "Dad, TMI (too much information)" and if he continues 'fair warning' that's it, dad." Prayers sent.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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No, I wouldn't ignore what he is saying. I would respectfully tell him that you don't want to discuss your mother and then change the subject. If he will not honor your wishes, I would then leave and try again another time. Be consistent with the message. The question I have is this: is he still cognitively intact to be able to acknowledge your concern? I'm asking this because you mention that he is sharing inappropriate details of their relationship. That could be a sign of disinhibition which can be associated with dementia.
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Reply to Peanuts56
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It's always difficult when one parent talks about the other. The children, no matter how old they are, do not want to hear it. I don't know if it would be possible to get him to stop, but you could try. Cutting him off may work, if not the just flat out tell him you don't want to hear it.
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Reply to Isabelsdaughter
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This man is both angry, frustrated and mainly - showing signs of dementia. If it upsets you, and it would me too, immediately stop him in his tracks - forcefully if need be - you have heard it, stop at once, you want not another word. Walk away or do whatever you need to do to stop him. Perhaps threaten him if he doesn't stop, you will remove him from the premises - for good. And start thinking about that.
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Reply to Riley2166
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i told my mother I did not want to hear anything bad about my dad. She picked him to be my dad and I will not hear anything bad about him. Every time she would start, I would just tell her I did not want to hear it. If I could leave, I would. Sometimes we were in a car going somewhere, then I would just repeat, I do not want to hear anything bad about Daddy. repeat as needed.

There is nothing you can do about other people, so don't worry about it, it is out of your control.
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Reply to MaryKathleen
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He has lost his social filter. We all have "bad thoughts" but usually we don't verbalize them. It seems he has lost that ability. This is common with patients with neurological disorders including dementia.

Coping with inappropriate behavior can take many forms. I prefer diversion - change the subject to something more appropriate. Ignoring the comments can work to not give this behavior the :kick: of creating shock or attention-seeking. Activities that require focus also help to distract him.
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Reply to Taarna
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I would just cut him short and say "I don't want to hear you say awful things about my mother...let's change the subject or I'm leaving."  He will probably do it again and again so you will have to repeat yourself time after time, but he will see that every time he does it, he will hit a brick wall.
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Reply to Jamesj
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when a person is constantly talking about something like that it means he needs to talk about it but you should get him a therapist! if you ignore him or interrupt he’s going to continue & is stuck in a sad place in his mind, it’s like ptsd he needs help sorting it out - even with dementia i believe he could benefit from therapy - but not you - just get him someone that is neutral & not emotionally affected by his story. I also suggest for you to give him space & when you do see him create a environment that will be memorable to him & you! example cook him some of his favorite food or take him on an outing to old churches places that interest him. or play his favorite music & basically create an environment that is enjoyable to him
best of luck to both of you! you can do it!
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Reply to MyJourney19
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If it was me, I wouldn’t listen at all. The minute he started I’d leave, and though you don’t control others, you can encourage them to do the same. Dad may not be able to change this particular fixation but it doesn’t mean you need to listen to upsetting information over and over again. I wish you both peace
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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Up and away whenever he starts would be my advice.
I was successful in getting my aunt to not discuss unpleasant “stories” by insisting she stop.
Shes 93 and has dementia. She learned that I would not put up with it. My theory was each time she said it, she reinforced that unpleasant memory. I did not argue with her. I did remind her that one of her stories happened to her friend and not to herself.

She wanted me to stay with her and visit so she would stop but I do know that she’s told these stories to her aides so I can’t say she forgot them.
This may or may not work with your dad but might be worth a try.

Look up rumination. I think this is what your dad is doing.

I like the idea of bringing a topic to discuss before he gets started.

I would also like to gently suggest that you might benefit from a bit of therapy yourself as this had to have been a difficult childhood if your parents were so unhappy while you were growing up. This may be an opportunity for you to heal from that trauma. Staying and listening to it may be very harmful to not only your present but also future happiness.
Do take care of yourself. I’m sorry for this difficult time.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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Give him one warning if he starts on your Mom, and if he does it again get up and walk out.
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Reply to HelloImMinsu
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Daisysdaughter May 19, 2020
Agreed, if my dad brought up crap I did not want to hear or deal with I warned him and if he persisted I walked. But, he was a horrible husband.
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If he is diagnosed and found to have dementia, there is not really much you can do about it unless you have faith and are willing to pray for him.
Since becoming a Christian myself, I know there are those who will say "Oh you Christians think prayer is the answer for everything"!
And I respond with"It may or may not help you father but it will definitely give you a peace of mind while you are dealing with this situation. And who knows...people are getting healed all the time.I watch the 700 Club sometimes and there is a lot of healing going on there.God bless.
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Isthisrealyreal May 19, 2020
Amen, we serve a prayer answering God.
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Does he have dementia? Will asking him to stop have any effect? If it will, try saying, "I love my mother. Please stop insulting her. It hurts me." If he can't stop, walk out of the room the moment he starts. Keep yourself sane.
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Reply to SFdaughter
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Tough to know what to do, but you can perform experiments. One is to say, "Dad, this makes you so sad. Why don't we get some help for you? I've been talking to so-and-so, who says he knows a great counselor who works especially well with mature guys. He says he is available Thursday afternoon. Would you like me to help you book a meeting? [Dad's response will tell you a lot].
Also, if at the outset of each of your visits with Dad, you jump right in with"Dad, I remember how much fun we had the time we..." Then, if whenever he goes off trashing your mom, you simply glance at your watch and exclaim,"Oh my goodness, look at the time! Gotta run. Dad, it was good to touch base with you and share some happy memories. Til next time!" If his behavior modifies over time, you know it wasn't the dementia talking.
If it doesn't modify, reduce your presence when he is rude.
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Reply to InItForGood
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My thoughts are that he's hurting and may have Dementia.
Ddefinitely, try to have him checked for that. There are do many different forms and agitation and such are the underlying symptoms for some. I'm not a doctor just have been caring for my family for years and researching the topic. He may need some counseling or testing or both.
If nothing else works then you may have to not tak thoi for awhile.
It can be draining, my dad has been insulting me for years not all the time but pretty much of it. I have a good support system and I get away when I can I try not to argue and my caregiving support class says to redirect the discussion and just agree with them. Both have worked a majority of the time.
This group helps a lot!!
If you have a strong personality you need to put your foot down and give him and put your foot down tell him stop it or leave. Even have someone else talk to him.
You have to do what's right for you also. I'm slowly realizing that and you will make mistakes, we are only human.
I hope things work out.
If you can you might want to talk to a counselor
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Reply to ahenley39
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StandstoReason May 19, 2020
HI,
As an adult child of 2 alcoholics (ACOA) I've learned that when I'm disturbed I must take responsibility for my disturbance. He's not making me feel badly, I'm feeling badly. Setting boundaries like a warning or getting up and leaving doesn't do the trick, I would seek help for my disturbance. I can only change me. I can't change other people. And, over the years I've learned that the imperfect marriage my parents had was and now is one of my "strengths" because it motivated me to explore, change and deal with my beliefs and find a personal strength (spiritual) beyond other people; professional therapy helped along with ACOA and Alanon groups. It's an amazing journey and so worth the effort!
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You have a lot of good advice here. I will add my two cents - control the conversations yourself. Start with: Hey Dad, do you remember when... and add one of your or his favorite family stories. Any time he brings up Mom jump in louder and happier with another family story, or something about one of his siblings, or his second wife and a favorite holiday experience. You can tell the same stories over and over. Try to have enough of them that you can alternate if you talk to him every day. That means you need 7 stories to engage him with. If he has dementia, which it certainly sounds like, he might actually enjoy this.
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Reply to DrBenshir
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My mom did this right up until it became apparent she had dementia...now that talk stopped. I heard too much personal stuff for many years..I think early stages of dementia caused a lack of insight and she felt ok with talking about her personal issues with my dad. what we did was walk away when it started or I would tell her “mom he was my father,,,I love him for that. What he did as a husband was between the two of you“ ..mine parents were married 52 yrs and she stayed for it all!
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Reply to Sadinroanokeva
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Every time he goes there stop him and tell him if he continues you will be forces to leave, tell him it hurts you because if he had not married your mother you would not exist. If he stops fine stay and visit, if he continues get up and go.
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Reply to EllensOnly
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You are describing my former mil to a tee. She was divorced in 1985, remarried in 1993, widowed in 1998 and complains endlessly about her first hubby. Even while married to hubby #2.

And yes, shared details with me that I had no interest at all in hearing.

I could stop her in her tracks and ask her why she stayed. She did leave him at least once, but went back to him, but she refuses to take responsibility for her actions.

It is tiresome and although I loved her, I found being around her to be incredibly draining.
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Reply to Tothill
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Would it be possible to listen one last time and hold his hand and tell your father it's time to let it go now. There's a constant need to rewrite the narrative of a trauma or unresolved conflict one has experienced even if long ago. During the time one may only have coping skills to survive the circumstance and what follows at some point is the need to make sense of it, rationally. To heal takes time and often therapy. Needless to say, by old age this becomes more difficult. I hope I don't replay the old conflicts in old age. That would indeed be horrible for my son.

I've had to redirect my mother from her bent toward negativity. I made a photo album scrapbook of her travels and work which she now recounts to others repeatedly, thankfully. I just walk away when the complaints of things that don't matter surface.
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Reply to Pasa18
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I think FloridaDD is right on the money, frankly. We give those with dementia WAY too much leeway saying/doing whatever they want, whenever they want, feeling we have NO power whatsoever, because "Oh The Poor Thing Has Dementia". Well guess what? WE have rights too! WE have feelings and emotions that are always put on the back burner so that we can accommodate THEIR nonsense

ENOUGH.

My mother thought it would be a good idea to tell me something SO foul about my father after he died, a 'deep dark secret' she harbored for 68 years, that I felt ready to vomit listening to her. I also felt, at the time, that there was NO WAY I could EVER forgive her for telling me such a thing, or for treating my father like a second class citizen for my entire life.

Instead, I decided I'd had ENOUGH of her chronic BS. So I told her NO MORE! Every time you trash talk my father I'm LEAVING YOUR PRESENCE OR HANGING UP THE PHONE, period.

She never does it any more.

End of story.

You have rights too. If you leave the room or hang up the phone every time your father goes off on a negative tirade about your mother, he'll eventually get the hint.

And if he doesn't? You'll have cut down your exposure to the toxic cesspool he's inundating you with.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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My MIL, married to DH's dad for 42 years, then divorced--FIL passed 16 years ago--but if you talk to her it's as if all the issues of their marriage happened yesterday----and she NEVER stops talking about him, negatively. It is really hard on DH and he hates going to visit her b/c she will just out of the blue start reminiscing about FIL and it's ALWAYS just horrible. She can remember to the most minute detail about things he did--whether to her or just stuff. And there is NO forgiveness and NO sense of 'oh that happened nearly 70 years ago, I could let that go'.

She's just a negative, hateful person. If you are on her bad side (as I am) there is no hope that I will ever be 'accepted' as one of the family. She has told me she hates me, literally. Many times. DH wants me to visit her with him, but I won't, ever again. Our 'last visit' wound up with her screaming (literally) at me and holding her head and telling me over and over to 'just shut up! shut up! why are you even HERE?' I stood up (after about an hour of STANDING as she wouldn't let me sit down) and said "I'm giving you the best gift I can. I'm leaving and I will NEVER come back." SLAMMED the back door (a gesture lost on both her and DH, neither had in the hearing aids) and walked to my sister's--a couple blocks away. By the time I got to sis' house I was laughing. I'm FREE!

About 3 hrs later, DH shows up to get me. He's completely disgusted with his mom, but he'll never say anything to her, ever about treating me better. He DOES get upset with her bad mouthing his father, though, but it has done no good.

People like this (and thank goodness I do not know many!!) are sad, miserable people. DH says it's dementia, but she's been like this as long as I have known her. (46 years)

Sadly--she's always been this way and she will never change. At age 90? She's pretty set in her ways.

DH talks to her maybe once every 2-3 months. He saw her on Mother's Day so her's off the hook for the summer. She gets along with his sister and that's the only person who can handle her.

I'm BLACK rock with her, I don't even plan to go to her funeral at this point. DH is just completely disgusted with her. He wishes I would go with him and 'take the bullet' as it were, but it's just too hard. And it's not my job.

I feel sorry for DH, but she's HIS mom. not mine and NOT my problem.
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Reply to Midkid58
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jacobsonbob May 18, 2020
Modkid58, I would say you did the best thing possible! I've never met you, but I can imagine you laughing as you "regained your freedom"--now is a GREAT time to stick to your word and NEVER go back to see her! And if she hates you that much, then you are doing HER a favor, too--and your DH doesn't have to listen to her attacking you if/when he visits again.
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Daughter1515,
For what it's worth, my mom(total narcissist), after 35 years of being divorced from my father who passed away 2 years ago, still trash talks about my Dad.
I have come to realize that some folks are just wired wrong!
My Mom doesn't have dementia.
Look into "Grey Rock ". It's been a life saver for me when Mom starts in about my Dad.
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Reply to xrayjodib
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Unfortunately with dementia often the horrible past is what is recalled.
People that survived concentration camps are now reliving that. Others placed in camps here in the USA are dealing with the same thing.
So to relive a bad marriage, a brutal childhood is another brutal way this disease takes our loved ones away from us.
If this is a focus of his and it truly upsets him you might want to talk to his doctor about medication for the anxiety.
And if he is recalling actual events this can be horrible for you as well as your step-siblings. It might be worth talking to a therapist about it if you think that would help. A lot of things that may have gone on possibly effected you in ways that you don't realize. (or possibly do, and I am sure this is painful for you to relive)
If you can redirect his conversation that might help but if this is only what he recalls that might be difficult.
People that work at the facility I am sure have "heard it all" and take many things with a "grain of salt" as far as the people living there..they only know 1 side of the story and again I am sure they could care less and again given the source, from a person with dementia take the stories for what it is worth.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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My guess is that in his mind this just happened so this is why he is obsessing over it (I say this as a person who went through a bad divorce...it is life consuming at the time).

There is nothing wrong with you telling him you won't discuss and will leave if he will not stop.....and do it if he does not comply.
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Reply to lkdrymom
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Does he have dementia? My mom is currently talking about growing up with cousins which she hasn’t seen in 30 years. Yet, she hardly talks about my stepdad and their 22 year marriage. He passed away about five years ago.
she doesn’t have any recent memories, just things that happened a long time ago.
I agree that you have to draw your line in the sand. Tough love. God bless.
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Reply to KarlaDay
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I have told my dad I will leave any time he says anything negative about my mom.
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Reply to FloridaDD
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