How Mum and Dad relate to each other


I visit my parents to care for them. My 87-year-old Mum was diagnosed with moderate Alzheimer’s last year. The predominant symptom currently is acute short term memory loss. Patience and kindness is required in conversation, as Mum can forget something that has been said only a few seconds previously. I have adapted well to relating to Mum in this way. However, my 89-year-old Dad (who does not have dementia) struggles to cope with Mum’s forgetfulness. When Dad tells Mum something that he has mentioned before and that she has forgotten, she often will reply “well, you’ve never told me that before!”. Dad reacts to this by being defensive, because he thinks that Mum is ‘getting at him’ for his apparent oversight, so he wants to set the record straight. He’ll typically reply “well, I have told you, but you’ve forgotten!” in quite an agitated and accusatory way. It makes me very sad to see it.

I have spoken with Dad about this numerous times and explained that the best thing to do is to simply and patiently repeat the message as if it is for the first time, without any mention of Mum’s forgetfulness. I explain that it is not Mum’s fault, and not “crazy”, because it is an effect of Alzheimer’s. He finds this difficult because he feels as if he must defend himself. He is not doing very well with adapting.

I think Dad’s reaction is quite understandable in some ways, though not very helpful. I have also talked with Mum and explained that if Dad mentions something that she can’t recall, that it may be good for her to quietly say to herself that maybe she has forgotten it, and not to challenge Dad. However, it is asking a lot for Mum to remember to do that. I think the main responsibility lies with Dad to find a way to navigate such conversations in a way that is helpful to them both, and retains peace and calm.

How can I best advise my Dad? Does anyone else have experience of the same thing? I would be very grateful for your input. Thanks.

Hi & welcome

Does Dad get any respite. Living with someone 24 x 7 with such memory issues is very challenging. Has there been a needs assessment for Mum and a carers assessment for Dad. Dad’s life has also changed and at his age I can see the situation as very uncomfortable. Does Mum every go to respite giving Dad some time off.’s%20may,for%20comfort%2C%20security%20and%20familiarity.

Dad needs a tool box of strategies that don’t involve always using speech.