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My father has convinced himself that Allah has cured him, what should I do?

June 17, 2013

Huntington's Disease Youth Organization

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My father has convinced himself that Allah has cured him, what should I do?

Q. My father had been admitted into full time care, but has convinced himself that Allah cured him and is constantly arguing with his carers that he should be let out. He complains to me about it, and I’m never fully certain how to respond. I don’t want crush his delusion, and tell him the truth, but I also don’t want to encourage him either. What’s the best thing I should do?

Megan, 17, Australia

A. Dear Megan,

It sounds as if your father has a fixed delusion that will likely be impossible for you to shift or change. Delusions are sometimes seen in HD & represent one of the manifestations of the disease. Hopefully his doctor can review his medications as sometimes such delusions can be abolished or reduced by tablets.

Often family have insights in to the feelings & needs of their loved one that may not be appreciated by medical & nursing staff. My patients often tell family things that they hide from the doctors & nurses who care from them. It will probably be appreciated by his doctor if you let him/her know of your observations before your father’s next appointment.

Usually delusions are not altered by discussion. The best thing for you to do is not to challenge his thoughts. This will be upsetting for both of you. The most important & valuable thing about your visits is that you 2 get to see each other, talk and interact like any other daughter & father.

I recommend not challenging him or agreeing with him, but rather distracting him by moving to interesting things like what you are doing with your life, current affairs, general family matters. He will probably come back to the same thought periodically. Don’t get upset by this but keep on moving to other topics.

Hope this answer of use to you.

Hugh Rickards