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LGBT Community and Allies
When they forget you're gay
My father is in the latter half of mid-stage Alzheimer's and he regularly forgets that I'm gay now. He asks me where my wife is and I just say, "I'm divorced, Dad," which is the truth, but I don't correct his misconception a lot of the time.
Once in a while, though, he does grok that I'm gay and then asks an extremely offensive question related to sexual activity. He asks out of curiosity not malice and I get that he doesn't understand that what he's asking is TMI and not something I am willing to discuss with him. In those cases, I usually respond, "Dad, there are some things about your kids that you just don't need to know."
Most of the time, it's not an issue, but lately, he's started asking me how I'd react to naked women in certain situations and it's getting really tedious. I usually just shrug and go about my tasks and he eventually forgets.
I'm sure this has happened to other people and I'd be interested in hearing how this manifested with them.
Hello mrgladd and a very warm welcome to you. Gads . . . . if it isn't one thing; well . . . . it's your father. Actually, my hairdresser gave me a mug that said, "If it isn't one thing, it's your mother." Set me off laughing like a loopy hyena for quite awhile. That is how frustrated I had become over the behavioral elements and fixations along the way.
With dementia, we often see our Loved Ones, (LOs), lose their filters. What comes out of their mouth is spontaneously in the moment and all bets are off. Good you mention divorce; that stops that one even though it may play again and again like a broken record.
The issuee of remembering you are gay is one thing, but asking you intimate direct questions is not where one wants to find themselves over and over again. Sometimes it can be helped by using a bit of humor; as in when asked how you would react to a photo of a naked female; "Oh geeze, I would think she was cold and needed a coat." Then quickly change the subject and refocus onto another topic or activity.
Sometimes it is, "not up for discussion, Dad." Refocus and change subect.
Sometimes it is, "oops, excuse me a second, I have to use the restroom . . . . or my cell-phone is vibrating, got to take the call . . . or, uh-oh, I think I left my keys in the car; got to go check . . . or whatever else. Breaks the fixation and let's you refocus when returning.
I used the restroom one over and over again because when my LO was on a rant and could not let go, it got me out of the room and most often extinguished the dynamic. I would go into the bathroom, close the door, wait ten minutes, flush, run the water and come out walking briskly talking with a fast clip about something totally different. By that time, the original topic became lost.
Sometimes, when on a touchy subject, I would look startled, interrupt and loudly say . . . "OH! Before I forget, did you hear about . . . .:?" Pick a subect, a relatives wedding, pregnancy, etc.; or the news or heaven forbid, politics, or seeing something outside the widown; etc. Sometimes it was stopping the topic by saying, "OH! I sure am hungry, lets get some coffee and cookies . . . .
You get the idea; "refocusing" is sometimes the most helpul dynamic. Sometimes this can be exhausting for the topic that comes up over and over and having to answer and answer and refocus and refocus; but that happens when the brain has become so compromised and reasoning, judgment and logic are all affected in a negative way; it does pass . Still alright to say, "not open for discussion," and refocus or leave the room for whatever reason to stop the broken record.
One good thing; this is a temporary state of being, it will pass in tincture of time.
Please do let us know how you are; we will be thinking of you. And by the way; please feel free to Post on any Forums including the Caregiver's and Spousal/Partner Forums, there is a lot more input on them because there are so many more Members there.
You will find you are welcome on any and all Forums; we have had multiple LGBT folks on the Forums and all have been welcomed with open arms. We are all in this together.
By the way, mrgladd; I really love your photo, too cool and it made me smile when a smile was much needed. And, "grok;" Robert Heinlein, "Stranger in a Strange Land." I use that word too and not everyone knows what it is. Been a long time since I read that book.
With warmest wishes being sent your way,
Mimi, Dad has Alzheimer's disease and is the latter part of mid-stage.
Jo, I'm glad you like the photo. I call the character Orange U Gladd and he's a recent addition to my life.
Hey Mr.G., I wrote to you on the other Forum, but in case you did not go there again, I wanted to give you and excellent document regarding, "Understanding the Dementia Experience, " written by a specialist, Jennifer Ghent-Fuller.
It is an excellent primer and well worth printing off for future use as things progress.
Also, the Alzheimer's Assn. has a Helpline at (800) 272-3900. If you call, please ask to be transferred to a Care Consultant. There are no fees for this service. Consultants are highly educated Social Workers who specialize in dementia and family dynamics. They are wonderfully supportive, can provide information and help us with our problem solving and problem issues.
Best wishes for all to settle down soonest,
I haven’t researched it but my gut tells me that cis hetero men with alzheimers have a sexual phase. While this doesn’t change your frustration, it might provide some logic in an otherwise illogical experience. When he forgets you are gay or asks inappropriate things, try to count to 10. And as you count each number, repeat the mantra: he is sick, his comments are for me but not about me.
My alzheimers-impacted family completely forgets they paid for my lgbtqia+ wedding. Sometimes they forget we are related and tell me totally inappropriate things about sex or their body parts. Since you can’t change your father or the illness, all you can do is change yourself and find ways to remember it’s not personal (even though it’s painful.)
I like to remind myself this parting quote: life becomes easier when we accept the apology we may never recieve.
This is the reason I haven't told my dad I'm genderfluid. He asks me about my wife (I've never been married) and wonders where she is. I think he knows I'm LGBT but doesn't know which letter because he's told me before he had the Alzheimer's diagnosis that whatever I choose to be he's okay with it.
I'm sorry to hear yours has been asking inappropriate questions, but I have a theory: he knows there's something different about you but he's unable to figure out what it is. He's trying to figure things out, so he asks you those questions as a way to figure things out. He doesn't mean any harm by it though I'm fairly certain. Small comfort I know, but better than none at all right?