Father with dementia confusing my life experiences with his


Items from my past makes my dad talk about those things as if they’re from his past.

I tried goggling to see if I could find anything about this but didn’t have much luck.

My father has early to mid stage dementia and is definitely acting more strange as the days go on.

I have found that when telling stories he tends to say things from my past as if they were his own memories.

For example he took me to karate when I was a kid and when moving home he was helping me with some boxes. Anything vaguely Karate related from those days caused him to stop in his tracks and talk about how he used to do it and that the training equipment was good stuff of his.

Has anyone had any experience with a relative acting like that?

It’s not distressing so I don’t correct him. It’s just been happening more often with other things so I’m just curious if it’s part of a bigger behavior that could be forming.

I think he remembers taking me to the lessons but the lines are being blurred as to what his role in those memories are.

Hi Brendan

My Mum has dementia and I used to work with carers who were caring for people with dementia, among others, and I’ve never come across that one! Is it possible that he used to do Karate as a youngster and is merging memories?

Hi Brendan - I cared for my Mum who had Alzheimer’s and, like your Dad, there were parts of my life that she “remembered” as being her own. Plus lots of things she saw on the TV were happening/had happened to her or to me when in reality then hadn’t.
We had to stop watching “Escape to the Country” as she was convinced that we were moving to the middle of nowhere (which to a city girl like my Mum was the worst thing possible !). She would tell people that I was working in Beirut - no idea where that idea came from although when I was much younger I worked in the travel industry and travelled extensively - including visiting Beirut (before the war !). She was also convinced that she had attended the Catholic girls High School that I went to - (a) she wasn’t a Catholic and (b) she had a basic state education leaving school at 15.

It’s strange how the mind of someone with Dementia works sometimes - as you’ve realised there is nothing to be gained from correcting him. I just used to try and change the subject “How about a cup of tea Mum while we try the crossword ?”

Hi Brendan
My late husband had vascular dementia and other health issues.
He used to confabulate loads!
His Grandad was sleeping on the bed so we must be quiet. He never knew his Grandad. Had just got back from all sorts of places, he was in a nursing home unable to walk. Had been to the club. The list goes on.
I always agreed with him unless it was something awful like being stranded on a ship, or been stuck in a cellar with rats. Then I would tell him he must have taken medication late so caused nasty dreams. Fortunately he would take that. I too would change the subject, cup of tea, tell him something funny about the grandchildren.
It’s so heartbreaking and I feel very much for you

Alzheimer’s Research Association is now offering grants to the overworked families of the Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. We want to help ease your financial burden, at least a little bit, for you and your household. link removed by moderator

Hi Beth

I’ve removed your link as Carers UK is run in the UK, and our members are mostly from the UK. The ARA is a US-based charity and only supports individuals in the USA.

The dementia sufferer knows something is wrong, and their brain is not working properly. So when they get an idea to stick in their head, they fixate on it.

And that’s fine.

They have no ability to plan ahead. They often have short-term memory loss. And old memories can begin getting fuzzy and falling away, too.

All they really have is RIGHT NOW. This very moment.

You are doing the right thing by just playing along with them. It is harmless, helps them feel “normal-ish”, and have a conversation with their loved one on their terms.

Your only role at this point is to help them have every moment of connection and happiness you can give them. If they want to talk about the invisible person in the room, or their new partner they are dating (who doesn’t exist), or if they co-opt your memories and share them as their own… no harm done. Just roll with it. Let them tell the story and have the moment of connection.

That’s love.