Follow
Share

My husband is 86 and has shown dementia symptoms for 5 years, and I am the sole caregiver. He is in total denial and refuses to discuss it. We have had 2 doctors diagnose it, but he claims they have never told him.
Qu 1: If I try to assist him he often pushes me away saying that he does not want to be treated like a child. He gets angry at me when I offer help. But when it comes to hygiene, I am concerned. He does not clean his dentures properly or daily. He does not change his underwear daily, and often wears his socks to bed for 2 or 3 days, which makes his feet itchy and sore. He does not cut his toe nails and they have wrapped over his toes. He does not clean his bottom well in the shower. He almost never washes his hands. He leaves soap on his hair at the end of the shower, which now has his scalp flaking. Occasionally he will let me help, Fortunately I have convinced him to let me handle his medications. So how do I get him to let me help with daily hygiene without raising his anger and resentment?
Qu 2: He used to be an engineering director (20 years ago) and felt like a responsible useful person. When he retired because he was laid off and could not find anyone to rehire him at age 65. So I had him do plumbing and carpentry and yard projects around the house which saved us alot of money. Now he can not do any of that. The last time he tried to mow the lawn, it was done in a strange zig-zag pattern of small mowed sections and not mowed sections. He complains that he feels useless, but when I try to get him to go to the Sr center, he says NO. He does not read any longer the books he used to enjoy. He wanted to have a cell phone like mine, so I bought one. I tried 3 or 4 times to teach him how to use it, but he could not remember the steps to even turn it on. About 5 years ago he discovered sweepstakes, and then he could do them, but he was giving too much money. We had a conversation and I showed him the money he was losing, so I got him to agree to only 1 dollar cash to each entry. Now it is the only thing he wants to do, and he is back to more than a dollar . I am trying to find SOMETHING for him to do to occupy his time. He thinks it is his way to earn money for us, but he has never won, although he has convinced himself that he has won many times. I take him for a walk every day that is not raining, but he only walks about 4 very slow blocks total. I try to get him to throw a ball for the dog, but he gives up after the dog has brought it back and he has to pick it up again. He used to load the dishwasher, and I used to unload and put away. But one day I found things all over inside the dishwasher, so I am now doing both load and unload. I have tried to get him to help me in the garden, but he does not understand my directions, and has difficulty getting up and down. He loves to take pictures on our short walks. He used to off-load the pictures from the camera to the computer, then work on the computer to create photo albums that we could share with the family, but he can not figure out any of how to do that any longer. I am out of ideas of things to occupy him. Help me find something to occupy him, without me having to be right by his side all the time.
Qu 3: He wants to eat sweets all the day long. I tell him that "lunch will be soon" but that only works for a short time. If I am out working on the garden he finds cookies, or crackers, or cereal or ice-cream or bread with jam to munch on. I have to keep the pounds off that he worked hard to lose, to keep his back from hurting. I make 3 nutritious meals for us and they each have something sweet, but he insists on more sweets. I have tried hiding the cookies and crackers but then he finds the others.
Qu 4: He is furious that he can not drive now. He blames me for this. The DMV refused to let him have a drivers license when we moved here. He insists that he can get a license in our former state if I would help him. I try to change the subject. Now what?

I’m so sorry about your husband. Sadly, resistance to care is quite common with dementia. The only options that I am aware are to try different things, offer to help in different ways, ask the doctor to intervene, hire an aid to assist, etc. but he’s not likely to suddenly become cooperative. The lack of hygiene creates a real risk of infection that eventually must be addressed, and that’s why some spouses seek placement. Bathing, dressing, cleaning, a person who resists is exhausting for one person around the clock.

Due to the damage to the brain, the person can’t learn new things. Even old things are tough for them to master. And, even though it seems he needs to be involved in an activity....he likely isn’t able. Their focus goes and they often have a short attention span. My LO would color for only 3-4 minutes if directly supervised, then, she’d grow tired of it. Does he like music? Two of the last things my LO could engage were listening to music and watching old tv shows, though she didn’t know what was on. I know it’s frustrating, but it’s very difficult for them to stay on task with any activity. I’d read The 36 Hour Day. Would he help folding laundry? That’s a favorite activity for many people who have dementia.

His false contentions, delusions, etc. will likely continue until he forgets about them. Until then, it’s repeatedly redirecting and coaxing him to safety. Over time, he may forget and not insist on things that are dangerous. It’s always a struggle for many caregivers.

I’d discuss his diet with his doctor. Maybe offer treats if he gets good shower. Maybe lock or hide things dr says to limit. My LO didn’t need to limit weight so I gave her any treats she wanted. I tried to keep her as content as possible.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Sunnygirl1
Report

Those toenails probably hurt. Take the socks off when he falls asleep. There are some visiting podiatrists. Call your Area Agency on Aging to see if they can help you find one. Some Home Health agencies work with them.

Perhaps a great shower head that he can enjoy while sitting on a shower stool will encourage him towards a bath.
Negotiate. A shampoo and bath and then a “milk shake” which you can fortify with protein powder, nuts and fruit. You can make them ahead and keep in frozen servings for him to discover.
I agree don’t buy sweets.

You have a garden. Do you have enough room for chickens? Chickens need to be fed and watered and eggs gathered. Would he like that or would that be more work for you?
Does he have a cat? Almost all old men I’ve been around like cats even when they didn’t when they were younger. Now during covid the senior center is probably closed. My niece takes her parents to one everyday for lunch. They enjoy the outing. It’s closed to others now but the one she goes to allows her to bring her parents in. So be on the lookout for something like that.

I’m thinking you might not be ready to give up your garden but do recognize that his needs will increase and more of your time will be required to tend him unless you start bringing in some help.

Let the help be for you if he asks and little by little he will accept them. If you don’t want to do that then he will need to be placed sooner rather than later whether you go with him or not.
I know it’s difficult. Hard decisions ahead. Start with the toenails.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to 97yroldmom
Report

1. Maybe he would allow help from a male care giver for his hygiene care. Maybe he is embarrassed to seem frail in front of you.
2. I like Geaton's idea of downsizing to senior living where there are activities, or somehow finding him some companionship other than you. I remember my great-grandfather, who was blind, finding his way downtown every day to sit with other old men at the courthouse and talk. Your husband can't do that because with his memory issues he would get lost, but is there some way you could get neighbors, family, or a care giver with similar interests to come over and talk with him?
3. Don't buy so many sweets. My mom went through that too. I finally got her off the sweets, but now in assisted living they let her have them again.
4. Changing the subject is all you can do. Eventually he will forget about driving. Hopefully.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to ArtistDaughter
Report

Hi Carol, many many on this forum currently are or have been in your very shoes and will post great ideas and seasoned wisdom. I have not yet been as far down the path with my mom but I would like you to think about your question, "Now what?" You definitely need help and support! You've given us lots of good info but it would be helpful to confirm that you are your husband's durable PoA -- or someone younger and trustworthy is? This is very important to being able to advocate for him legally and more easily as his mind/behaviors change further. Also, what kind of help/suggestions are you seeking specifically? Have you had a minute in your busy days to really consider the benefits of downsizing so that at least you won't have a house and yard to upkeep but would be in a social settings with other couples? A care community would provide that to you (and transportation bus, activities, support, etc). I realize many of us spend a lifetime daydreaming about our retirement and it usually never includes dementia and stress. But you must deal with the reality before you. What would be the most helpful? Affordable? Logical? I'm not trying to add to your burden by piling more questions onto yours, but in order to move forward you will need to think deeply about what would truly help you not only now and tomorrow but will solve bigger issues before they arise down the road. I wish you all the best as you figure out the wisest ways to help your hubby -- and yourself!
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Geaton777
Report

You will get a lot of answers. I cared for my Mom who was pretty easy.

I just wanted to say that Medicare pays for a Podiatrist to do toenails everyc10 weeks.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report

Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter