Q: Dear Regina, I know my dad’s mind is slipping because he has made mistakes that are not known for my dad to make. I have been reading about the memory and the mind. However my dad is not that bad. Not like some others. He knows all his family and grand children. He has always been a man to correct us and has control over his situations and matters. My brothers and I find ourselves arguing with him as he has always been rather stubborn. But the things he corrects us on are not fact. For example we were all reminiscing about when my first child was born and he made a statement about how much hair the child had at birth. All of us in the house told him he must be thinking of another child because my first born had no hair at birth and for the first two years. He insisted we were all crazy. We brought the pictures and he told me to my face that I was lying and that picture is not his grandchild. His anger grew the more evidence we brought to him. He was just being stubborn and didn’t want to admit he was wrong. How do you handle someone who doesn’t want to admit their mistakes?
A: It sounds like your dad is very early on but has enough impairment to not connect the dots. His personality to be in control and correct has not changed. Just his perception. His brain is translating information to him with missing information. The anger comes because you and family are persistent on correcting him and his brain has only the dots connected that the brain has not killed. Trying to be logical and rational with someone who has brain failure will only get you into trouble. It is difficult for families to cope with this behaviour particularly when the loved one has had a personality that has been strong and stern. It appears they have become mean and aggressive with age. In reality, the brain is slowly dying and your dad is functioning with what he has left and this is his reality. Telling him his reality is not so will cause his brain to try and reach for something that is no longer there, therefore causing frustration.
Try to understand that his brain is slowly dying and he cannot help it. Knowing how he is will be helpful as you can understand when he knows he is right, this is how he reacts. You do not have to tell him he is right if it is a lie, but understand in his mind it is not a lie. You can go along with him without lying and at the same time allowing him peace and dignity with regards to how he is perceiving the memory. This is what is known as “Alzheimer’s World” and until you learn that world your world will be miserable. I am sure he is a proud man, let him enjoy his pride. His pride does not have to be miserable at this time. If he did not have this debilitating disease then he would have lessons to learn if his reaction was so aggressive all the time. At this time he is not able to rectify. You may be surprised that he will rectify those issues in the future in a beautiful way that you and your siblings would have never expected. Focus on the relationship not who is right or wrong. You are the angel to his world of comfort.
Sweat rolls down a furrowed brow,
How I got here, I know not how,
I start to panic , I start to shake,
Trying not, a show to make,
Which road is this? What is this street?
A pumping heart begins to beat,
Eyes are darting left to right,
Scanning such unfamiliar sights
People passing without a care,
No one knows i am there,
I feel so lost in dementia`s world,
Into a ball i want to curl,
A familiar voice is what I hear !
Both my eyes begin to tear,
Suddenly I am not alone,
Knowing I`m on my way back home
Cc Norrms Mc Namara, Diagnosed with dementia 9 years ago aged just 50 yrs old
Thank you Norm for allowing us to share your poem!
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