It’s Like Caring for a 4-Year-Old

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I just never know what is going to completely flummox Charlie's Swiss cheese brain.

About three months ago the dentist prescribed special toothpaste to help prevent the erosion of the enamel on his teeth – at a cost of $18 per tube.

Charlie has been using it daily since that time (at least he tells me he is brushing his teeth). He came out with the tube in hand yesterday and asked me, "What is this, and why is it in my bathroom?" I explained the situation to him and only ended up making him more confused.

I am afraid things are reaching the point where his every-day ablutions are going to have to be carried out under my direct supervision, or even with my assistance.

Charlie had a dentist appointment this week and he asked the dentist to give him a prescription for Cialis, thanks to those enticing TV commercials. He had written the name down in his "little black book" or he would not have remembered the name of the product. The dentist explained that, no he didn't deal with that end of the body, but Charlie couldn't understand why not. The dentist repaired a cracked tooth and when Charlie got home he asked me where he'd been and why had he gone there.

The other day he woke up in the morning, dressed and sat down, ready for breakfast. It wasn't long before he was complaining that the navy blue pants he was wearing didn't have pockets.

He has a pair of navy blue slacks that he doesn't wear often, and I thought that was what he had dressed in that morning.We had an argument over the fact that there were no pockets in his pants, with me insisting that there were pockets in his pants. Finally, I looked him over and discovered he was wearing a pair of pajama bottoms instead of pants – and he didn't know the difference.

At times I'm not sure which one of us is losing his/her mind. So we have reached the point where I am laying out his clothes every day to make sure he is dressed appropriately and changes regularly.

We have our bird feeders up again, now that the bears are hibernating. Bird watching has always brought joy to Charlie, and there wasn't a bird he couldn't identify. Now, he can't tell the difference between a woodpecker and a chickadee at the feeder. The beautiful, bright red cardinals still jog his memory and bring a smile to his face.

I wonder how much longer that will last.

We don't often go out to eat these days but when we do, Charlie is unable to decide what to order. The menus seem to completely confuse him. So he either ends up ordering the same thing I am having or I suggest something I think he might like, and he always agrees with my suggestions.

It's like going out to eat with a four year old. But at this point, I am thankful that he can still remember how to feed himself. Like the book says, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff."

There seems to be a very noticeable change in Charlie's mental deterioration over the past few months. We just put 2013 behind us, and I thought it was a stressful year. I am not looking forward to what 2014 might have in store for us.

Marlis describes herself as a “Gramma who loves technology and has a lot to say.” She blogs about whatever catches her interest: food, books, family and more. For AgingCare.com, she writes about the issues facing the elderly and her experiences caring for her husband, Charlie, who suffers from dementia.

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8 Comments

Marlis, we reached a point where I did have to supervise my husband's hygiene activities. In his final year for several months we had a personal care attendant who got him ready for the day, including bathing him a couple times a week, and then brought him into my home office (where I was working) to say good morning before she made him breakfast. That was AWESOME! I would advise anyone whose spouse with dementia lives at home to not put off getting in-home help. It can make a world of difference.

My husband loved to go out to eat. I know just what you mean about how confusing it is for them to select from a menu. We had a few favorite places where I had the menu memorized, and when we went to a new place I looked up the menu online first. I always gave him a choice of 3 or 4 items on the menu, unless he was particularly confused that day, and then I would just suggest one. We kept going out until he was bedridden. It seemed important to him.

I hope 2014 is full of moments to cherish, as well the inevitable sad losses.
Sorry to say, but this is dementia and the big A. My husband was such an intelligent man, pilot and could do anything pretty much. Now I feel like his parent. Sometimes I feel blue but I have friends that have husbands that are aggressive, potty themselves all the time, run off etc. Many of them refuse to give POA to their wives even if they really cannot take care of themselves. When I think of them, I say I am blessed that he does not scream all the time, fight with me etc. Sometimes it does get to me but it could be worse. Stay Strong. God Bless you for being a caregiver.
Jet Jane
It is so sad to see a loved one decline. My cousin Kay had the same situation many years ago. When her husband began to wander away and get lost she was sort of obligated/forced to put him in a facility that could care for him. At that time he really didn't know her either. My sympathy goes out to you Marlis. Bless your heart. May the Lord of all comfort give you the strength and comfort you need.