Dementia and Adultery

What to Say When a Delusional Loved One With Dementia Makes Accusations of Adultery

False accusations of adultery illustrate one of the most common kinds of delusions sometimes seen in the later stages of Alzheimer's. If you haven't experienced them, count your blessings; such delusional thoughts might never come up. But if they do, know that the quality of a couple's relationship has little to do with this particular delusion. It's more about insecurity and anxiety -- feelings that things are happening that can't be controlled (because they can't be explained, given lack of memory, reasoning, and judgment).

So skip the rational explanations or sharp protests. What to say instead:

  • Rely on humor: "Sorry, you're stuck with me, dear." Or, "I don't know why, but Mom insists you're mates for life."

  • Or empathize: "I can see you're upset about that. Who wouldn't be?" "You must find that unbelievable; it sure seems hard to believe."

  • Then distract: "Did you see how many birds are at the bird feeder today?" Change the subject or move to another room or location.


about 1 year ago, said...

I've been having this problem with my husband for several months. It has become an almost daily occurance. At first I tried reasoning with him. In the end he would accept what I told him and say how sorry he was. Then the next day it would start all over again. He started getting very nasty and calling me horrible names I can't repeat and accusing me of picking up men in bars etc. very hard not to feel offended. I've tried distracting him, but he goes right back to it like an obsession. I've tried humor, but he doesn't have much sense of humor anymore. I've tried leaving the room but he follows me, shouting and calling me names. He's 80 and I'm 70. He suffers from ED and other physical problems that prevent him from "functioning". He insists I don't want to have relations with him and must be getting it elsewhere. I've tried to explain there is much more to marriage and a relationship that is more important. He won't accept that either. I feel so stressed T times I don't even want to be near him because that's all he wants to talk about.


over 2 years ago, said...

She responds to a pretty face on You Tube especially a singer when we have a musical therapy session. Thats all


almost 3 years ago, said...

humor, however, my husband does not have much of a since of humor anymore.


over 3 years ago, said...

My dear sick wife often accuses me of being "too friendly" with certain women among our circle. I'm not even a flirter, let alone a philanderer, but I do enjoy interacting with females. I now know the ones I must stay away from. But there are other hurtful things that just spew out sometimes...."Why did I ever marry you?, all you think of is yourself, you are a cheap SOB", and other drunken sailor stuff. She quickly forgets this stuff, and can be sweet too, telling me how much she loves me for all the care she receives from me. Dealing withthis horrid, horrid disease (Alzheimer's Disease) is the toughest challenge I have ever endured.


almost 4 years ago, said...

I try not to take the insults personally and the 1st 8-10 times I manage pretty well, but as the day wears on and the more adament he gets at times like when he's sundowning or shadowing it gets tuff. You know if you fall and break your arm it hurts, if somebody pushes you down it hurts-one might be more emotional than the other but the arm is broken just the same and just knowing someone "can't help it or is sick" does not lessen the blow too much for me. What happens is you start having thoughts..the kind no child should ever have about their parents who raised them and did right by them THEN you feel guilty for the thoughts and it's just a vicious cycle. It wears you out.


almost 4 years ago, said...

My dad says all manner of things about all manner of people when he has an epsiode. He is very paranoid. He said the FBI was outside (I told him to let em in) :), he says my MIL (whom he barely knows) is flying over the house on her broom (I told him she might be a witch, but not the kind w/superpowers)-BUT when he says hurtful, mean things to my Mom (that make Her cry) I loose it. I know he is delusional, but that knowledge does not help-i am too close to this to use emotional detachment and get overwhelmed and often have to walk outside to calm down from anger-any tips?


almost 4 years ago, said...

It did happen to me and I hugged him and reassured him how much I love him and that I would not do anything like that. He was satisfied with that comment.


over 4 years ago, said...

Was helpful, my Dad delusion is that people make him take cold showers. I found the empathy and letting him talk it out a while then changing subject. He taked a while and then I said Showers, they had some nice showers at that gym you went to (years ago). That was a nice gym, you seemed to enjoy going there, it was on Main street, I think. And then he did talk about the gym and his brother.. thanks for the info.


almost 5 years ago, said...

My husband is very suspicious every time I go out an he thinks I have a lover. Sometimes he gets very offensive. I have tried reasoning and it doesn't work. Distracting him has worked. But still is very hard not to feel offended.


almost 5 years ago, said...

My mother is finally safe, Thank you


about 5 years ago, said...

Very helpful as I have already been accused, but he is still rational enough that I calmed him down with " oh brother wonder what you will come up with next" he understands he has problems and physically we both are unable, so no more problems there


about 5 years ago, said...

Little ideas like these are a way to help me to avoid trying to engage in rational discussion. I keep trying to rationalize but it just makes things worse. Thanks for the ideas but it is just so hard for me not to engage, I am no doubt too focussed on truth. It is a long learning process but having suggestions like these just helps to show me that sometimes discussions need to be diverted. Cheers


about 5 years ago, said...

My wife has not yet accused me of having an affair; but she has had a persistent delusion that her husband left her when he found out she had Alzheimer's disease. At times, she has added that her children also left her. The fact is that we have been married for 51 1/2 year, married right out of college; neither of us had been married before that (age 22) and we have never been separated. Our daughter is now single and lives with us, functioning as a co-caregiver. My son lives 1 1/2 miles away and is very responsive to help when we ask him. Reasoning with her sometimes works; but when it doesn't I have tried the humorous approach (as has my daughter and my son). Most of the time it works. Our son seems very adept at making her laugh. Thanks for the tips


about 5 years ago, said...

Thanks for this item. This has recently come up and (after 61 years of a great marriage) I was really bent out of shape. I couldn't fathom this kind of comment from my wife and did not know what to say. Denials just do not work. The best I could come up with was diversion. In that we have, in the past, done quite a bit of traveling I tried that and it works quite well. GEEZER81


about 5 years ago, said...

I have already experienced this with my mother. I was on vacation , had'nt seen her in about 3yrs. We as a family was playing a game. She decided not to play, she went & did her normal routine for going to bed. I mean family there was my SON, my BOYFRIEND, me & my dad playing. I could tell something was up by the way she was acting. So I think she did'nt reconise me as her daughter. I have since moved out here to help my dad. Plus I hav'nt heard No More about it. She know looks at me like she reconizes me. I think my dad helps alot with her remembering who I am.


about 5 years ago, said...

Maybe the distraction would be the only thing that would work for me. It's my mother accusing me of sleeping with her husband even though she's not married. My dad died about 30 years ago but she thinks she remarried. She's in a nursing home. She has dementia.