My FIL is 90 years old. He has declining health. His wife (second marriage- first wife of 50 years deceased) has dementia. She has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but I think the Doctor just threw some pills at her, and never gave her a thorough evaluation. The step-family situation is another piece that makes this situation hard to manage. For whatever reason, my FIL will not tell his wife "no" when she is making poor decisions. Some examples are: giving him supplements off the internet, rearranging his pill box, giving him orange juice when blood sugar high, home canning done incorrectly, driving without a license, inappropriate charges on credit card, etc. Do you have any ideas why my father-in-law will not stand up to her. These are some ideas that we are considering- 1. My FIL also has dementia that we are unable to see/admit 2. My FIL is in denial and is unable to see her lapses in judgment 3. He is of the older generation, and is a true gentleman. He does not want to hurt her feelings 4. All of the above Thank you for any insight.

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I wonder if he just doesn't understand what's happening. Folks here are more attuned to the signs of dementia. Thinking of a family of two older adults, they're probably not online as much as we are, don't visit caregiving forums, and "dementia" may not even be on their radar.

And even then, he may not realize what's happening. I remember when a doctor said that my mother had "Dementia, Alzheimer's type", that was back in the early 2000s. I wasn't knowledgeable about it, didn't really have any idea what to do until we saw some progression. It was my psych nurse sister who clued me in on how to address some of Mom's confusion issues.

So, he may just not have any idea what to do, poor fella.

I've also noticed more recently that families who are experiencing a member with dementia don't have the level of knowledge of people here.
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Dementia spouses can definitely be a danger to their significant other - and themselves. My father poured enough pool grade chlorine (with algaecide) into the well to poison both my parents with just a single cup of that water. Mom smelled the chlorine when running dish water and then it burned her hands when she tried to wash the dishes. I found the empty chlorine bucket by the uncovered well. Dad was shocked when he realized the problems that could have been caused by what he had done. I cut the pipe coming from the well and then flushed the water lines with a neighbor's hose before leaving to purchase some drinking water gallons. Thank God he didn't do this when any children were visiting!
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Yes, he can be in denial about her dementia. And if this is the way they've lived their lives up to this point, with her doing things and him not saying much about them, it's not going to change now.

Spouses are often in denial when it comes to dementia in the other spouse.
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If not all of the above, at least some of the above!

Oh, yes, of course a spouse of someone who has dementia can be in danger. Sometimes it is danger of physical abuse, But danger arising out of poor decisions can be very real, too.

Let's take these one by one. Supplements from the internet. Hmm. A lot of people swear by them. I don't agree with her decision, but I don't see it as particularly dangerous. Are you worried about it being a waste of money?

Rearranging his pill box. Oh-oh. Are all the correct pills still in it? Is FIL apt to be confused by the new arrangement? How well does he recognize his own medications? Would he notice if some are missing or there are duplicates?

Orange juice when his blood sugar is high? OMG. Definitely could be dangerous. Does FIL drink it? How well does he understand managing his diabetes? Has his wife always taken care of this? That was acceptable when she was well. It definitely isn't acceptable now!

What do you mean by canning done incorrectly? Were you there while she was doing it? I would definitely get rid of all the incorrectly canned foods. No one should eat it. Actually, I would probably call our home extension agency and ask for a professional opinion, then throw out whatever they say!

She MUST be stopped from driving! No license? Can you imagine the liability if she is in even a minor accident? More importantly, how would any of you live with it if her poor judgment results in serious injury or death?

What kind of charges does she make that are inappropriate?

If FIL won't go along with you, you have a tough situation on your hands. If he won't say no himself but doesn't mind if you do it will be easier. Do they live together, in their own home?

A person with dementia cannot live alone safely. She is not living alone, but she might as well be for all the supervision her husband is able/willing to give her. I think they need some in-home help, for FIL's sake as well as hers.

Don't allow her access to medications. (I bought a locking cosmetic case for pills when my husband had dementia.)

Disable or remove the car.

Tell them the jar lids have been recalled. They are defective and everyone is advised to discard the contents. (Or any story she might accept.)

If she is not using good judgment about purchases, online or in stores, perhaps someone should accompany her shopping. Maybe the credit card needs to be closed.

How does your husband feel about these things? Can he reason with his dad?

I think her behavior confirms the diagnosis. As long as the doctor did appropriate tests to rule out other causes (such as a vitamin deficiency) then extensive cognitive testing isn't necessary to diagnose ALZ.

Getting a needs assessment for her would probably be more useful than further testing.

I tried my best to avoid hurting my husband's feelings, but I certainly did not allow him to drive, endangering others. I did not allow him to manage his own medications (let aone mine!) We opened a separate checking account for him, with a low balance, and we took him off the household account.

Poor Wife. She is a sick woman. Not her fault! No blame intended. But she must be protected from herself.
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