To begin with, my husband and I have been married for a year now. I am 27 and he is 32. He seems perfectly fine and I absolutely don't see any symptoms. But I am still very worried about our future. Both of his grandfathers had dementia and now his mother is getting worse too. I am extremely worried about my mother-in-law but I am even more worried about him. I can't help but think that there is a possibility of the same terrible thing happening to him some day. We are in the process of adoption of a child and when we have a baby, who knows how we manage to care about him and about my mother-in-law at the same time? And it is such a scary thought that one day I may wake up and see those changes in him too. I have never been so scared in my whole life. I know that I am probably overthinking and my reaction is too emotional. After all, his health is perfect right now. Well, mostly. He was diagnosed with Persistent Depressive Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder last year. He is doing fine, taking medication and his therapist is amazing. I can definitely see improvement there, he has made a lot of progress. And it has never been too serious for him, everything is under control. But now I am thinking, what if those things are the signs of the future tragedy? I am reaching for help here because I have nobody else to go to. I am so devastated and I can’t stop thinking about it. We are both so young and should enjoy life and just value what we have now and create our own little family. But I have been having these thoughts for quite some time now and I can’t fully enjoy life with having this crippling fear inside. I would want to hear your honest brutal opinion on this situation. Are the chances high that this may happen to my husband? How do I stop thinking about it? Is it possible for me to live a happy life with having this thought in the back of my mind? How do I get out of this dark horrible place and stop locking myself into all these bad feelings?

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My husband has Alzheimer's. I asked about having him tested for the inherited form because his Father had Alzheimer's too. I was told that there is only a 5% overall chance of having genetic Alzheimer's. 95% of the cases aren't inherited.
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Hi Linda,
Seems to me that you've had multiple "stressors" happen in succession and you're overwhelmed. Your mind is reacting to your (assumed or real) stress. At your age you don't have enough "life experiences" under your belt to help you relax.

#1. Your M-I-L is getting "worse". I'm assuming that her dementia is progressing. Maybe you're thinking that the burden of caring for her will land on you; a huge responsibility (caregiving), especially at your age.
#2. You soon will be parents; a stressful time in any couples life, even though the blessed event is very anticipated, it's still spooky. Everyone wonders if they have what it takes to be a good parent. Also, what will the future hold for your new son or daughter. Children are a huge responsibility (caregiving) also.
#3. Your husband has been diagnosed with PDD and GAD. This is not easy for the spouse. Sometimes the anxiety "rubs off" on the partner. It is also very difficult to live with a chronically depressed person. I know, I did it for 30 years. Life is not easy with these two disabilities and often the healthy spouse shoulders the burden of the responsibility (caregiving).

You wrote, "I've never been so scared in my life." You said it all: You are facing life with a new baby and a partner that may or may not be able to cope with what is happening, and the possibility of caring for your mother-in-law in the foreseeable future. Three people you would be responsible for and caregiving. Now who WOULDN'T be scared and overwhelmed? Sounds to me like you are reacting like any normal person would, given the circumstances. With all these put together, your stress level is at a 10.

I think your concern about your husband getting dementia is a sign of being overwhelmed. Your mind is unable to cope with all these factors and is in hyperdrive. Everything that CAN overwhelm you comes into your mind. Your thought processes are distorted and may show up in other areas of your life also. You feel like you will shoulder the responsibility for everyone and everything and you don't believe you can cope. A therapist and talk therapy can help you sort out reality from imagined fears and put everything in perspective. If I were you, I'd try talk therapy for awhile BEFORE they put you on any psychiatric meds.

You can get a handle on this. Pray a lot. If you have a church, talk to your clergy person. Confide in good friends. Take a yoga class or stress reduction/relaxation class. Carve out some alone time to meditate. Pamper yourself. Go on a "date night" once a week with hubby. Practice slow, deep breathing exercises. Google 'stress reduction'. Force yourself to 'redirect' your negative thoughts every time they pop into your head.

I'm no mental professional but I think that your fears will pass once you realize where they are coming from and you see that you have some control of your life. Good luck and God bless you all.
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I do understand your concern. I wonder about it regarding some people that I know who have parents who developed dementia. It's scary and you have seen it up close, so it's naturally something that you may be curious about.

I think that when you are dealing with a family member who has a serious illness, it causes you to wonder if you too, will I get it. No doubt, cancer patient's families feel that way too. I'll share what I have done with concerns over potential conditions.

First of all, I would gather relevant information about your concern. There is professional literature you can read. Keep in mind that there are many causes for dementia. If your husband's family members had different conditions that caused their dementia, then that would be a huge factor to consider. If they all had Alzheimers, I'd gather info from the Alzheimers Association. I might even consult with a Neurologist, if funds allow, to get a professional opinion on your concerns. Armed with this information, perhaps you can put your mind at rest. continuing to be vigilant, isn't going to help. To me, information is power and it provides me with the confidence to put things into perspective and to move on.

And if you are still worried, I'd consult with a therapist. Sometimes, generalized anxiety can cause obsessions. Getting peace back would be my goal. It is possible.
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You're worrying about something that may or may not happen for 50 years. That worry is getting in the way of you having a good life now.

I agree about making an appointment with your husband's therapist. The fear that your husband will develop dementia way off in the future is preventing you from enjoying your life now. It's irrational. I think a therapist can help you get out of that "dark horrible place".
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I think it's the Mother In Law issue that's the real problem because you know it's going to affect your life a lot sooner, but somehow you have turned it into a different fear, one that is less likely to come to fruition and/or if it does is YEARS down the line. Maybe you feel trapped and this is how it's manifesting?
Life is messy, and the best planning gets crapped on by accidents, illness, natural disasters etc.
When I was 27 I lost my first baby just over half-way through my pregnancy. Reading what you have written reminds me of myself back then, because my core was shaken realizing that despite all my planning, life went side-ways. I was not really in control, control was an illusion.
I think this is where you are at. You need to get some emotional support, join online support groups, possibly get your own therapist, do some research, do some soul searching BEFORE children come along. Your husband already has some issues (we all have some issues, but not all of them get a label or a medical diagnosis) Can you live with his issues? (I am not even talking about the possible--future dementia, but what is going on right now for him.)
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You are both so young and should enjoy life and just value what you have now and create your own little family.

I hope this isn't too brutal, but your obsession with this topic is too emotional and definitely is not healthy. I suggest you have a few sessions with your husband's wonderful therapist, or ask for a referral to another wonderful therapist. You deserve peace of mind and to be able to relax and enjoy what you have. This crippling fear needs to be treated. You have seen that mental disorders can be successfully treated. Your husband is walking evidence! Get treatment for yourself.

Because your fear is not rational, I'm not sure that rational discussion will change it. But I'll provide a few comments, anyway.

Some cases of dementia do have an hereditary component. I understand that this is more likely to be true of early-onset dementia. How old were his grandparents when they developed dementia? How old is his mother? Has she been diagnosed? What type of dementia did/do these people have? (ALZ, vascular, LBD, etc.) Most dementia does not appear to be hereditary.

My grandmother and mother had dementia. Does that worry me? Well, they were in their 90s when it happened and I'll be happy if I get to be that age intact. The biggest risk factor for dementia is age. I know that if I live to my mid-80s I have a 50% chance of having dementia, regardless of any history in my family.

Let us consider the worst case scenario: your husband (or you) develops dementia 30 years from now. The treatment scene will be ENTIRELY different then than it is now. Research is intensive and world-wide.

Little story about a friend of mine: Her mother was about a generation younger than her father (second marriage for both). When they were expecting friends and family thought they were nuts to start a family at his age. "By the time those kids graduate from high school they'll only have one parent!" And they were right. The mother died of cancer before my friend was in high school. Her father is still going strong in his mid-nineties, and taking classes at the University!

Early death and/or disabilities can happen to ANYONE. Fretting over it changes nothing.

You and hubby need to discuss MIL's situation. You need to agree on a plan that will provide the needed care for her (when the time comes) and still allow you to build your own family and live your own lives. I hope it will help you relax a bit to have this topic out in the open and well thought out. Don't wait until it is an emergency! Have at least outlines of your approach now.

I hope you find the peace of mind you deserve. Please consider some therapy to help you get there.
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