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It's the dementia talking


Question: I don’t know how to deal with my mother-in-law. I love her so much, and it breaks my heart to see her today. She keeps accusing my father-in-law of cheating with other woman (he isn’t). She gets in arguments with him a lot. He keeps up the arguments because he does not understand that it is the dementia talking. She lives in a residence and he lives in his own apartment. Please help!

Dr. Amy: Your father-in-law first needs to understand how dementia can cause confusion and change people’s ability to think. There are many very good resources online that explain this, including this page from the Alzheimer's Association.  

Once he understands that it is the dementia causing her to think this way, you can then talk to him about coping strategies—what he can do when she makes these upsetting accusations. Here are three:

  1. Redirect the conversation. He can reassure his wife that he loves her and then change topic.
  2. Do not argue. There is nothing to be gained from trying to have a logical conversation. That won’t work and he will not be able to talk to her out if it.
  3. Switch activities. If they are sitting in the living room, he might suggest they make a cup of tea or go for a walk.

Losing someone you love to dementia is heart breaking. I encourage you to think about joining a support group. You may feel comforted, talking with others who are travelling the same road as you are. I send you peace.

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