My wife and I are both 71 and have been married 51 years and have a daughter.

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Some time ago I found that she was telling me family stories (both funny and interesting) over and over again day in and day out. At first it would be frustrating and I would tell her that she had told me this story earlier, but in a few minutes, she would start again on the same story. I thought she might be practicing for family reunions and the like so would just listen and make appropriate comments. After several months I decided that something was wrong and probably was altzhimers as I had suspected that her deceased mother had had it.

About that time I decided that I had better retire and start doing some things that I had planned to do when I retired like:

A. Drive to Alaska
B. Take my boat down the river to the Gulf with a couple of friends.

This may sound kind of selfish but that was the driving motivation as these were items that require two to six weeks at a time to accomplish (I did both).

Fast forward a few years and her disease has progressed to the point that I cannot leave her alone for more than a hour and it is best if she is sleeping. She may turn a water faucet on but not off, worse case scenario that in a life-threatening situation she would not be able to exit the house.

I am physically active w/o restrictions (although have had two heart attacks, quadruple-by-pass and a stroke over 13 years ago). I asked my daughter to stay with her while I took a three-day motorcycle trip last year and again this year. This is difficult for her, but she has taken vacation both times in order to accommodate these requests. She works nights so this disrupts her schedule greatly.

Last week I mentioned that I would like to hire someone to stay with her which would enable me to get a few days off a month. Her response was "You married for better or worse and you should not do this"!
I don't wish to be selfish but I feel that I am lucky to be as healthy as I am and need some time for the recreational activities I enjoy.

My wife and I have a great marriage and she and I have always been able to work through problems. Marrying her has been the best decision I ever made. My job always provided a good livelihood and a comfortable retirement and I feel that another 10 years is a possibility if I properly care of myself. I have spent several years watching my wife and love her dearly but feel that a little time to myself would be good. I continue to be determined that will care for her as long as I can.

My daughter is a good and caring person but we are unable to have a reasonable discussion on this matter.

I would appreciate suggestions on how I should deal with this problem.

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Think about a respite at a Assisted Living. She would have all the amenities and consistency of Memory care. You would not have to worry about her during the time you are gone. My dad took care of my mom after her stroke and dementia, he had a heart attack, quad bypass and pneumonia. He passed away 9 months after she did. I wish we had done things differently but hind sight is 20/20. Hugs
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Phil, is your wife able to go to adult day care? This can be a wonderful option. She won't like it at first, but she's not apt to like any change. You need a break. Adult day care can be a terrific option for the spouse who needs to get out. It can also help the person who has been so isolated by disability. They need social stimulation, too.

If this isn't an option, then your state's version of the Family Caregiver Support Program may be able to provide some respite care for you. These aren't income bases. You can go to your state Web site and find aging services to see where you get this help.

As an aside, one of my column readers told me that adult day care for his wife was a perfect way for him to get used to the fact that his wife wouldn't always be there, in the home. He used some of the time to get used to an empty house. That helped him when she passed away.


Take care,
Carol
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Phil, Have you talked about this with your wife's doctor? Depending on where you live and your financial situation, she may be eligible for visiting nurse services or a provider to give you some relief. All of us who are caregivers, be it for a spouse, parent, or child, know how taxing it can be. It is so important to take care of yourself (and we're all so much better at saying this than doing so). Perhaps getting someone to stay with your wife for a day or a part of the day would give you a break for a while?
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Carol..thanks for your response to the man with the daughter. i have a similiar situation. my wife had a stroke years ago ..her mental state is deteriating. i have taken hr with me since the time of the stroke until recently. i cannot leave her alone for more than an hour or so..the constant attention is very taxing and our sons are all out of state. Would local senior day care be an option? She doesnt want to even leave the house or the bed most times?
i appreciate just sharing. my health is very good thus far..but i wonder how long?
Phil
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Hi Carol,
Thank you for your response and appreciate your time and comments, as this is a huge problem. I guess I will show my daughter my letter asking for comments and then your reply. This should be enough to get into a meaningful discussion and hopefully enable us to agree on how we can work our way through this.
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You have to take care of yourself. Your daughter should know that over 30% of the caregivers die before those they are caring for. You can't let this happen to you.

Your daughter loves you both, but she is in denial about how hard this is for you. You will have to hire some in-home help or get some type of respite or it will affect your health.

It may help if you get something from your doctor stating this fact. You are not at all selfish. Please push forward and get some breaks for yourself. Your life may depend on it.

Your wife loves you (even if she can't show it now). She would not want you to give up your whole life to do what you are doing. She can't make that decision now, but you know what you would want if the table was turned.

If your daughter and you share the same religion, maybe a spiritual leader could help with this, too.

Take care of yourself. It's vital.

Carol
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