dresroom Asked June 2012

How do you handle a dementia patient who feels he doesn't need help when hospice has been called in to help care for his partner?

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My mother's partner, who has dementia, is upset that I am leaving my job to care for my mother and him. Mother has a host of physical problems, the main one being COPD, causing her to be on oxygen full-time, but she also has severe osteoporosis and heart issues. She is wheelchair bound at this point, and her doctor called in hospice yesterday.
Her partner has been upset ever since we told him I was leaving my job to care for them. He is lucid about 60% of the time, but when he isn''t he can be a danger both to himself and to her (not that he's abusive, but things get unplugged or hidden). He, however, feels there is nothing wrong-he totally forgets that he forgets- and that he doesn't need help with anything.
Is there a kind way to tell him that he does need help, both physically and mentally? (Incidentally, I could, of course, use the help from hospice)

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EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack Jun 2012
This is touchy, as you say. The problem is, of course, that he still wants to feel competent to care for her. If you can explain that every caregiver needs help when a person gets to a stage of ill health like your mother, that may help.
For her sake as well as his, others should be part of the equation. I'd stay away from any indication that this is because he forgets things. That just puts him on the defensive. If you approach it from the standpoint that this is what caregivers do, and that if he wants to be able to provide the best care for his partner, then he needs to take care of himself - which means breaks away - maybe that will help. You are right doing what you have set in motion. Good luck,
Carol
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