Today was one of those "maddening" days with my dementia patient husband. No matter how hard I try to prevent it, it happens once a week.
You see, he still likes to take the trash out. It's always been his job and it is one of the few things he can still do.
The problem is – the recyclables. They only go out EVERY OTHER WEEK!
Charlie keeps a calendar with all of the big events in his life clearly marked, day-by-day. Somehow, he's gotten it into his head that the recyclables go out every 2nd and 4th Wednesday. In spite of every effort I've made to explain to him that every other week is not the same thing, he just doesn't get it.
I even have a card from the disposal company highlighting the weeks that they pick up recyclables. Showing that card to Charlie doesn't help. His brain just can't figure it out. So every week we have an argument about whether or not it is recyclable week.
Then, there was the little problem of a bowel accident today.
I won't go into the details on this one. But I have come to the conclusion that chocolate candies and desserts, other sweets, and gravies are trigger foods that should be avoided at all costs.
Being the stubborn and proud man that he is, Charlie refuses to wear Depends. The phrase "an ounce of prevention" means nothing to him. His brain tells him that if he isn't having a problem on a given day, he doesn't need them. He just doesn't understand that by the time he has a problem, it's too late for the Depends.
Third problem: I've been watching Charlie "swishing" his wine, coffee and juice again.He tells me he swishes to "clean my teeth." The problem with his swishing is that it is causing the enamel on his teeth to deteriorate.
The last time he went to the dentist, the dentist came out to the waiting room and asked me if Charlie was consuming a lot of acidic food. I immediately suspected the swishing and the dentist agreed with me that it was the likely culprit.
My husband knows he has to stop the ridiculous habit but his brain just can't remember!I even placed a glass of water next to his wine glass to use as his swisher—the dentist's idea. But he forgets to drink the water.
Finally, Charlie's late night proclivity: He likes to stay up until eleven or twelve o'clock watching western or war movies. I've seen them all so many times that I prefer to spend an hour or so with HGTV or the Food Network. So I go to my room and leave him with instructions to TURN OUT THE LIGHTS!
Last night I woke up at 2:00 a.m. and realized the lights were still on, and Charlie was fast asleep in bed, AGAIN. Of course, his night owl habits also mean he doesn't get up until nearly lunchtime. This has become a habit that is driving me nuts.
Caring for a dementia patient is like raising a child all over again. The trouble is, as children age they get older and wiser (at least most of them do). As the dementia patient ages, he gets more childlike, eventually regressing to infancy.
There is no stopping the regression. It will happen in spite of all the medications the medical experts come up with; it will happen in spite of everything the caregiver does to keep the patient focused and on track.
We just have to accept it and find our "stress busters" to keep us from also losing our sanity.