My husband is 75, I'm ten years younger. Since he retired, I've seen a decline in him. The three most apparent are his poor decision-making skills, his driving skills, and his willingness to help out around the house -while physically he is in reasonable shape he mostly sits all day. I'm at the end of my sanity.

I know we need to have a discussion, but I don't want to hurt him and I don't want to face his anger, which is how he typically responds to hearing things he doesn't want to hear.

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Greenpenny, although you apparently take offense to Glad’s advice about not “confronting” him, she's right. Even having a “discussion” with him may prove fruitless. What do you expect him to say or do? Do you want him to admit he’s in decline? Or say he’ll try to do better?

Although your mother suffered from Alzheimer’s, understand that no two people travel this journey the same way. My mom was nasty, delusional, hallucinatory and combative. My father-in-law was bewildered and lost in his disease. Admitting one has a “problem” like Alzheimer’s solves few of the issues. It’s not like a nicotine or alcohol addiction where one can go to rehab. It’s not like Chicken Pox where one breaks out, goes to the doctor and eventually gets better.

Firstly, your husband needs to be formally diagnosed by a neurologist. If his evaluations show he does suffer from it, it will be the elephant in the room but one doesn’t need to constantly call attention to it. One handles it by making sure paperwork is in order such as POA and estate planning. Others have suggested on this site that having the physician speak with the person who has become a danger on the road can help. Keys may need to be hidden. He may be able to handle some decisions on his own for the time being. As time goes on, you will handle more and more of them.

Frankly, if he does have Alzheimer’s and you already find yourself at the “end of (your) sanity”, you may want to explore other living arrangements for him now. This can be a long road, and it only gets worse. Caregiving for an Alzheimer’s patient is a huge undertaking.
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Violarus Feb 2019
The guys never want to hear this. They (by 1950 standards that a lot of them grew up with) is that the male is to be strong and provide for all. Exact same scenario: going increasingly deaf and forgetful and not processing information as quickly and becoming quieter and not as interactive: it sneaks up on you! All of a sudden you realize: this is NOT the person s/he once was. Bringing up the subject of you noticing ANY deficits is met with denial, doubt, skepticism. I actually had to "trick" him into seeing the neurologist.....who, thankfully, is a golf buddy! Yeah, that's not easy. Still maintains after a stroke and early developing vascular dementia that nothing is wrong, nothing has changed and he's just fine.
Do not confront, that indicates argument. Instead discuss rationally, maybe a marriage counselor. Does hubby volunteer or anything at all? That would help.

I see from your profile that he has Alzheimer's has he actually been diagnosed? If he has Alzheimer's you will not be able to reason or explain anything to him. An Alzheimer's brain can not process the information that you want to discuss. It will only cause frustration and anger for him.
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The sad thing is that some people do not know that their thinking is wonky. That's why they argue, they can't see it. It is super frustrating and there is no winning, you are playing two entirely different games when this is the case.

My dad swears up and down nothing is wrong with him. Yet everyone that talks to him can tell something is wrong. Does he know and is in denial? Your guess is as good as mine, he has his story and he is sticking to it, come what may. Ugh!

If you feel like the NP treated you poorly I would find a different provider, she will cause you more heartache than she will ever help. I had a PT do the clock test and told my dad he doesn't have Alzheimers or dementia, regardless that the brain scan showed a walnut in his head where his brain is. That caused untold arguments, so be sure and start this process with a doctor that knows what they are talking about.

Best of luck, not an easy situation for sure.
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Invisible Feb 2019
My dad also denies any dementia and denies that he is older than 65! (I am 63.) But I don't feel that matters so much at this point, so we don't dwell on it. Instead we focus on "this phase" of our lives in which we do some things differently like we have done all along when our conditions have changed. This becomes the new normal. Watching someone else go through the frightening progression of not being able to trust your own judgement makes me uneasy for my own future. So you need to plan for yourself as well. Alzheimers can be a long journey but really, tomorrow is promised to none of us. Live each day.
Hi GreenPenny. I'm very sorry you are going through this. Even though your mother had dementia, caring for a spouse is a whole different dynamic. It's much more depressing and difficult, as you are losing a partner, and their finances are tied up with yours unlike most parents'. My husband is 15 years older. I'm 57 and very healthy.  He retired a few years ago, and I thought won't it be great when I get home from work, and there's a meal on the table sometimes or the house is clean. Well, that literally never happened.  He had heart disease from years back, triple bypass when he was about 40, GERD for most of his life (just had a Hiatal Hernia surgery - against his oncologist and neurologist's recommendations, but doesn't listen to anyone), has Stage 4 Prostate Cancer with mets to para aortic lymph nodes, and now dementia/most likely Alzheimer's. Upon diagnosis last year, he had already lost most of his ability to reason well.  Little things that had happened or that were said began to add up; and we saw the neurologist and had the "draw the clock" and simple tests but also a brain MRI which indicated temporal and frontal lobe shrinkage.  He was then sent to an OT for a driving evaluation which he failed; the neurologist had told him not to drive until that test was done.  That was a battle that lasted 5 days for me, and sent my anxiety through the roof.  I had to tell him over and over the doctor said not to drive and insurance will not cover any accident if you do!  Still wouldn't listen and would argue. I told him I'm not going to argue anymore, call the doctor and argue with her.  I finally got intervention to get him to quit driving, a brother-in-law with a strong personality came over to help. Still, when I told him to give me the keys, he did, but got angry and said I don't trust him. I calmly said, "no, I don't trust the disease; it's not a character flaw." Currently, he gets a friend to take him to the store, and he thinks he is contributing by buying "basics," even though he doesn't cook, so that contribution is limited since he doesn't have a clue what is  needed much of the time. Rightly or wrongly, I quit taking him to church and on most outings, because the behavior is just plain embarrassing. He currently stays home, as does my 93 year old father while I am at work. My Dad is as healthy as a 93 year old can possibly be, except for limited vision.  My husband is slowing down bit by bit, has difficulty finding words, and it's a challenge to communicate with him. Conversations become circular, saying the same things over and over, and often making no sense.  He's also very emotional, silly, immature. I don't look forward to the battle about giving me the debit and credit cards one day; that will surely be a fight as he is almost addicted to going on outings with this friend of his. The friend is 81, and my husband is 72. They go to 4 AA meetings a week, a couple bank trips, and several grocery store trips. That's more than I get out and I work; pretty sure they're just addicted to "going."  Another battle was to get him to quit looking at the mail while I am at work. He now puts it on the desk, although with dementia, behavior and cooperation can change any day! He was getting emotional about all the charitable solicitation things coming in the mail; calendars, notepads, etc. and wanting to send everyone money.  I told him we cannot afford it; that his medical care is going to be exhorbitantly expensive, which is true. In a nutshell, reasoning is gone, this is not fun, and I fear the future. I currently try really hard to focus on my health, exercise and try to get out with friends and my daughters. It's hard feeling stuck like this having to care for him, and he incidentally was a very selfish and self-centered husband before these last few years of illnesses began. I wish you well. Unfortunately, we're on the same journey, and it's a very rough ride.  Private message me if you like. Any time.
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TerriLou Feb 2019
I did by the way, also get a Durable POA drawn up immediately after getting the diagnosis.  Please do that.
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He knows.
And I bet he has been covering symptoms for quite a number of years. (I have read that it is often as long as 10 years that people are able to mask, hide, work around problems they have been experiencing)
First thing, your family doctor. discuss depression, very common when someone retires and now finds themselves with less to do. (You used to go to work where you were "needed" now you are not needed in the same way it can be a difficult adjustment)
Then discuss the memory issues. Get a referral to a neurologist or a neuro-psychologist to discuss issues.
And you both might want to take one of those driving classes, it will give you a good indication as to what is going on and it might reduce your insurance rate.

The anger issue if that is new it might be related to the depression, it could also be an indication of a type of dementia. (Umbrella term for all types) At this point it might be beneficial to diagnose the type of dementia.

but I am sure he is well aware of what is going on. It is possible that it has gotten tot he point where he can no longer mask the symptoms or since he is around more you are noticing them. Or a combination of the two.
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Have you contacted his doctor?

Many, many years ago, I realized that my (first) husband had had a change in mental status and was reasoning in an entirely black and white way. I contacted the neurologist who was treating his seizure disorder. It turned out that there was new literature on this med that indicated that long term use could cause personality changes.

The doc contacted his patient and asked him to come in based on " new information". To this day ( 30 years later) he doesn't know what prompted that med change.
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GreenPenny Feb 2019
I went in for a visit with his NP this morning. If I can get him in, she will order tests, but he is so stubborn and hates being told what to do, I'm likely going to have to wait until he has another reason to see her unless I can find a way to get him to realize things are not good.
Sadly, I feel so depressed (I love this man) and crazy and exhausted from this situation already she topped it all off by making me feel stupid and irrational for asking her how to start the diagnosis process.
My Dh is there.

But he is aware he's slipping. It's been going on for some time, and is in large part due to the fact he is very deaf and is missing so many of the clues that hearing imparts (I am thinking of the "lights and siren" cop chase we were involved in last week---he simply did not hear the cop....and I didn't say anything b/c I wanted him to have to see for himself that this is IMPORTANT to be able to hear the best you can).

He sat in the car and said "She didn't even have the siren on!" And I said, "Well, I heard it" He disagreed, of course, so when she came back with the "warning" he asked her if she'd had the siren on and she said "Yes, sir, I did."

Couple days later he talked about not being able to be so quick on the draw at work with problems that come up (he's an electrical engineer and has always been top of his game). I agreed that yes, I had noticed his increasing forgetfulness, but as he doesn't listen to me, I had not made a big deal of it. All I said was "You do realize that you forget something every single day of work and on trips?" He did agree, and I know it's bothering him.

I guess this isn't a hill I'm willing to die on. He barely hears and I really think that he would feel better if he could hear what's going on. He refuses hearing aids and so that is a moot point.

I honestly do not know what to do--as you don't. DH has had a couple of concussions in the past couple of years and they DID thorough exams. That doesn't always give the answer. I think it's more the day to day forgetfulness that slowly slides into dementia or just plain "battiness".

None of us knows what's in store. His mother is as batty as they come--but is also as deaf and seeing the two of them together is like an "aha" moment. He acts just like she does.

If DH wants to talk about it--do. That's not very helpful, I know, but every person I know who has some type of dementia has had a period of time when they "knew"--whether or not they "remember". DH is quite depressed about getting old. I did tell him the alternative was probably "worse". I don't know what he EXPECTED getting older to be like!
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Girlsaylor Feb 2019
Your last line says it all, don’t know what THEY expect getting old to be like. Dealing with the hub’s hearing loss here as well, and refusal to wear hearing aids. It makes it difficult to assess if issues are due to not hearing or something else.
Had to take my car in for repair this week. I followed him. He blew past the car dealership, several miles. Although I had a cell phone, didn’t call him, while driving. Thought perhaps he had made the the appointment at the mid-town dealership instead. Nope, he eventually made a U-turn, and I followed him to the correct dealership. He had insisted on taking the dog in the car, which I hate, when having car trouble. Being broken down is bad enough, getting a tow, calling a cab to get home, don’t need the dog in that mix. He refuses to listen to common sense. I had to shut car off and restart at theee different traffic lights, to limp in to the dealership. Most men would tell the wife to drive the reliable chase car in such a situation. Not this one. As his cognition declines, I’m in for a merry ride, being on oxygen and walking with a cane myself. Shuddering!
Is there a geriatrician that specializes in memory in your area? That may be the way to go. They are experts on older adults and will
clean up his medication list. They try to stabilize mood and treat the dementia. There are many causes of dementia. They are not all treated the same way.
Another great resource is support groups for dementia caregivers. Also, there are programs available to learn about these diseases. Your local area agency on aging can help guide you.
It takes a village to care for a dementia patient. A nurse care manager may be a place to start. That could be the beginning of your team.
Good luck.
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TOMTAge Feb 2019
That's really good advice!
I'm 79 and feel things are going downhill. I'm alone and will make sure, as much as I can, that I don't suffer in the dark.
Greenpenny... If you feel that your husband is declining cognitively, you might want to start in a couple different directions right now. What I mean is that if you start planning for other things, it might ease your mind from your present situation. For example, you could (on your own) start looking at nursing homes. Just by getting involved with the process will help you. Knowledge is power. Don’t leave things for the last moment. Also, if you feel his decline is cognitive, get with a practitioner of the Dr Dale Bredesen ReCODE protocol. Dr Bredesen has a 90% cure rate for Alzheimer’s. Many (most?) MDs have no clue about this protocol and probably have no interest in learning. I am seeing a practitioner to prevent Alzheimer’s, as I was my mom’s caregiver. Go to and get started. If cannot find a practioner of the ReCODE protocol and are within an hour or two of the Philadelphia area, I would encourage you to get in to get in touch with Dr Reina Marino of the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health. She is my doctor and is well worth the four-hour round trip. You can also find her at Getting back to your original question, having these discussions with a man or woman who is in decline is very hard. Quite often, they simple don’t get what you are saying or will forget the discussion by the next day...or next hour. Also, what you are saying frightens them. The more they lash out, the more afraid they are. When you talk about things, make sure there are no other distractions, such as a TV on. Perhaps a discussion at breakfast would be good, as his mind might be more fresh. Plan your questions ahead of time. Form them in ways in which he can answer with a simple yes or no. For example, don’t ask “how are you feeling today?”. Ask “do you feel well today?”. See the difference?! Again, plan your questions and do NOT have a lot of questions in any one sitting. If he has cognitive decline, long drawn out discussions are going to be difficult for him, and it will just make him unwilling to talk in the future and will ratchet up his fear. I wish you all the best. If he has Alzheimer’s, you must take action NOW before it gets worse. Check out Dr Bredesen and/or Dr Marino. Take good care of yourself in all of this. I don’t know how to private message me, but if you can figure it out, go ahead and contact me. Tell Agingcare that it is OK to reach me. I have never done a private message on this site, so I cannot advise, as I type this. Hang in there. Many of us have gone through what you are going through. There IS light at the end of that proverbial tunnel, but you must take action. Remember, your husband is probably very much afraid even if he does not admit it. Be kind to him and to yourself.
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I care for my husband who has dementia. A complicated, unpredictable disease as we all know. We focus on skills to improve rather than bring up this horrible disease. Even the Neurologist is not bringing it up during the visit/exam.
I realized my husband is coping by “ anosognosia”, choosing to believe he is OK with some difficulties!!! I now know not to discuss it anymore. He does not remember, he does not get it and he is happy most of the time, believing that he is improving...He was an electrical engineer, successful, handy, hard working. Now, his world has shrunk terribly, and his many talents disappeared.
He wants to help and I let him if it is safe like washing the dishes. He loves that because he feels successful at something. Very sad but I am always accepting and adjusting.
Finally, through Doctors’ intervention, the DMV suspended his Licence. We mailed it back together. I removed the car keys.
I told him the Motor Vehicle asked for them.
I removed the credit cards and I provide him with cash. So far it is working, until the next crisis...

We are not the good team we were for many decades.
I am not a wife anymore, only on paper and in memories and pictures... I am now a Nurse, a Manager and a Mama.

Stay strong and hold your ground!
This shall pass too.
Hugs 🤗
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