My husband has early onset dementia. He’s still capable of taking care of himself, dressing, bathing, etc., but has memory issues. He also has cancer. He gets a chemo shot every month and a chemo pill daily. This has an effect on his eating. He eats, he has to go to the bathroom. He’s lost a lot of weight and stays cold all the time. He knows his memory is going and always comments “I don’t anything.” He seems angry at the world. Never smiles; always see the worst in everything. Me & the children feel like we never know what to say. I can understand his anger, I probably would be too, but I just don’t know how to handle it or what to do that won’t set him off. On top of this, due to our health, we have decided to downsize. He’s completely agreeable, but I’m looking at having to do all the packing; he doesn’t have good balance. At my doctor’s appointment today, my BP was 117/177; stress related. I know I need help but I don't know where to start. Also, I know anything I do is going to aggravate him big time. I just need some suggestions, ideas on how to get through this. I watched my Mother die from Alzheimer’s; I know what it can do. I pray he doesn’t go through what she went through. Any advice would be welcome.

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Maybe stop the chemo shot and pills? What is the up side to treating his cancer when he has dementia?
Helpful Answer (9)
WhatNow72 Dec 2022
Stopping the chemo shot & pill is not an option. He has been taking them for years; yes, before the onset dementia.
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WhatNow72, welcome to the forum. I've been through my own cancer, and the pills I was taking could ruin my day pretty quickly. The side effects were off the wall, but I had to take them for a certain amount of time. Some of the side effects are still part of my life years later.

I was so tired of all the sugar and spice greetings, and when someone finally said to me "I bet having cancer sucks" I knew I finally found someone who understood my emotional being. Oh how I wanted someone to agree with me when things were out of sorts.
Helpful Answer (8)
NeedHelpWithMom Dec 2022
Wonderfully told honest response!

I personally hate Pollyanna attitudes as well. I prefer straight shooters that speak the truth like you just did.

We go through many different stages in our lives. Going through cancer is a crappy stage!

No one should have to smile when people make their ‘sugar and spice’ comments.

It’s enough to provoke a person with cancer to want to scream! I wholeheartedly agree that it’s better to be truthful. Cancer sucks!
As I am newly diagnosed with cancer, I know the feeling of wishing it was not within my body.
When All the other organs are welcomed , cancer just jumps right on in and invades those organs as to say “ah ha, what you gonna do now”?
Well what I said to cancer is you are not the boss of me! My mind controls this vessel and what I know and choose to believe is that my body “ will not last forever,” I accept that and have made peace with it but, my spirit , my soul, it’s boundless/ limitless and is forever free & alive and will never die!!
So( cancer) you don’t get to have me miserable and sad for “I am” and I am wondrously and miraculously made.
Helpful Answer (7)
schwester Dec 2022
This is so wonderful, thank you very much!
So sorry you are both going through this.

As others noted, with downsizing there are companies that can help with this. Yes, there is a cost but if you can hire help for this that takes some of this work and stress off you.

If you are selling your home and have a realtor; ask them to recommend an organizing, downsizing, packing and moving company or companies. Many people go through this and having a team come to work with you on what is to be donated, disposed of, sold OR what if anything your adult kids/grandkids want to take help. If some things are hard to part with; rent a storage unit for a year and revisit the "unable to part with items" in 6 months and then again at the end of the year to see if you can part with more each time. But by the end of 2 years, be committed to NOT having that storage unit.

Selling Items: If your adult kids or grandkids can help with the on-line selling -- if this is not your forte -- that would be helpful. Or consider a selling service to help with this. There are companies that handle "estate sales" which can done before you move. Also, there are a myriad of newer on-line apps and venues for selling items on-line such as via Facebook Market Place, Mercari, Postmark, Craigs List, and many more. And payment is easy on-line too via Venmo, Pay Pal, Zelle so you do not have to worry about bounced checks or handling too much cash. When selling; have other adults there with you for the pick up of items from your home if they are large pieces of furniture. For smaller items, most local police station parking lots are a good and safe place for the hand off of items sold.

Many charities -- Good Will, Habitat for Humanity, Purple Heart or Veteran organizations, refugee resettlement organizations and religious entities -- will pick up usable items and large furniture pieces for donation. Some "old school" items, are not really sellable nor will charities take them. Often the old huge and heavy CRT TV and computer monitors; VCR machines, cassette players, along with the cassettes and video tapes just have to go to the dump. Huge china cabinets and things like nick nicks, non-dishwasher safe china, and crystal can be hard to off load; most younger folks want none of this stuff.

Donating, selling or dumping a life of accumulated mementoes, pictures, treasures in addition to furniture, decorations, clothes, on and on is hard; but it also can be releasing.

On the anger part, having a support group or therapist for you and maybe him too (if he'll do that, some men are oppositional to suggesting a therapist or group, but worth trying) this could be helpful. Yes, anger and grief -- and much more -- are part of this. Having a way for you both to each work through it in your own way, pace and process could be helpful. You mentioned children, if young and at home still (not sure of ages) getting them counseling too would be helpful. My father passed when I was a kid and none of the adults (including my mom) said a peep to me. Dad was just there one day and gone the next; no one had any idea how to talk about death and illness with me, the kid. All to say if there are younger kids still at home; they need their own way and help of coping with this too.

Also, if he is angry, he is angry. You do not have to make him "not angry." Accepting and letting go is one of the hardest things in life, but he is in a place where he is and it is not your responsibility to "fix him" or "make him not angry." Your self care is very important too! And I hope you can work out time for your care and rest through this process too.

Good luck with the downsizing, the move and your health care journey for you both and for your family.
Helpful Answer (7)

Dementia doesn't have a happy ending, unfortunately, as you know from watching your dear mother die from AD. Add cancer in on top of it, and your poor husband is suffering an awful lot, and so are YOU as a result. The question I have is the same as sp's.........why is he moving forward with chemo shots & pills, with dementia in the picture?? Why not allow nature to take its course instead?

You need help with all of this; you have too much stress on your shoulders to bear. Get help with the move, for starters, and then join a support group for help with the emotional turmoil you're suffering from DH's cancer and dementia. You can't do this alone. You'll need to hire in home help and also consider placing him if things get too difficult to where you can't manage him at home. Dementia can turn a person violent in short order; so keep your eyes and ears open for any behavioral changes in him that indicate violence towards you or the children, God forbid. Remember that dementia changes a person, and so does the poisons they take from chemo pills and shots. I'm sure your DH may be depressed too, from all he's dealing with, which is understandable. Has he spoken to his doctor about possibly taking anti depressants to help him a bit?

You have A LOT to deal with and if you crumble or get hospitalized, what then? Please make sure to look after yourself and your kids too by asking for and getting help as needed. Don't try to be Superwoman and do it all, it's too much for one person to bear. For what it's worth, a blood pressure of 117/177 is considered a "Hypertensive Crisis - Emergency care needed"

Hire a housekeeper, movers to help you move & pack, and get a full physical right away to address this crisis with your BP.

Wishing you the best of luck with a very difficult situation.
Helpful Answer (6)

I'd suggest respite care while the move is actually happening, and for heaven's sake get the professionals in to do the heavy lifting, too.

If your BP is really 177/117 I believe that would normally be considered an emergency. What did your doctor say? - because I'm betting you didn't just get a pat on the head and told to ease off on the stress.
Helpful Answer (5)
WhatNow72 Dec 2022
My BP was 117/177, not 177/117.
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This is a very hard situation for you and your husband. Also, having the memories of your mom suffering and dying is making this even more difficult for you.

I have high blood pressure too. If my pressure was as high as yours was, my doctor would have immediately sent me to the emergency room!

Did your doctor adjust your meds? My doctor increased my meds when my pressure skyrocketed.

Obviously, you are overwhelmed and it’s affecting you emotionally and physically.

Do you have any time for yourself to relax for a bit? Are you your husband’s sole caregiver? If so, have you considered hiring additional help?

Your husband is dealing with everything as best as he can. When my husband was going through his cancer treatment he was exhausted. I wouldn’t have expected him to do anything extra. I wanted him to focus on his needs.

Downsizing is something that many people choose to do in their lives, but please look into moving services that will also pack things up for you. My daughter did this when she moved. She said that it was worth every penny.

Wishing you and your family peace as you continue on in your journey.
Helpful Answer (4)
WhatNow72 Dec 2022
Thank you.
I am so sorry you both are going through this. With the early onset of dementia and increasing balance, prostate and other issues, we had about 1 1/2 years of my husband being extremely angry, negativie and reactive, especially towards my son who was helping us a lot and towards me. It was out of character; it became increasingly stressful and, to be honest, heart breaking. The one that helped was CBD (non-THC) gummy bears. He takes 3 to 4 a day - and I can tell the difference right away if he's forgotten. With that, he began to realize he was driving away his family and worked harder at being patient. Eventually, he seemed to be able to accept the loss of diminished physical capability better.

Having had cancer, I deeply sympathize. You have to deal with all the "what ifs," while experiencing the fear, pain, fatigue and physical challenges at the same time. At the same time, despite feeling very irritable, I never felt I had the right to make other people's life miserable, especially those who were trying to love and support me. However, I'm not sure if I'd have been able to do that while being challenged with diminished processing, self-awareness and self-regulation. I feel for you both.

I found I had to work on my own reactivity. I carved out a small space in our home that I kept as my "sanctuary" and also tried to find moments where I could meditate, exercise or just have a break. My mantra that I'd repeat to myself became, I choose love - and I'd say it repeatedly until I felt myself relax more. Have you considered support groups?

We downsized and continue to do so. It's a lot to take on with all you are going through! Originally, I used the criterion of whether or not something gave me joy. It became a delight to match friends with special items I thought they might truly enjoy. We were also lucky that a grandchild was setting up an apartment and, later, that an acquaintence was leaving a situation of domestic violence and starting from scratch. A few items went to a refugee family and many things to a non-profit "thrift store." It helped my husband to "let go" to be helping others, a specific purpose that was meaningful.

I hope things soon ease up for you both!
Helpful Answer (3)

This is such a difficult situation. My heart hurts for you, your husband, and your family.

There are many good suggestions on the thread about working with the oncologist, a psychiatrist, and a therapist for your husband; and I would add a good PCP for your health, too.
Also, the comments related to the move seem sound from: ensuring you are making a good final move for all of the challenges your husband will face (a continuum of care facility seems ideal), to getting help with organizing, storing, selling, and moving.

However, the question was your husband's anger. Again, there are ideas here on how to pharmacologically mitigate his anger. I would encourage a few adaptive behavioral strategies, too.

I would start with becoming a very good judge of if/when you may be pushing things too hard and too fast. Your husband has two serious denenegative illnesses. His ability to physically and cognitively keep pace on any given day may change dramatically. Try assessing if there is a pattern to his anger related to when he is tired, hungry, time of day, or his world is too chaotic. If so, SLOW DOWN and adapt.

Other ideas I didn't see suggested related to environmental support.
1. Alter the mood with music or fragrance to help calm him (and you) down.
2. Plan the day in advance with a calendar to support his memory loss, and also to help you gauge if your are alloting the right amount of time for tasks, going at the right pace for him, and approaching things logically with the least amount of effort for the highest amount of reward.
3. Specifically schedule time for music, meals, meditation and just enjoying life together. Specifically schedule the things you know challenge him so you don't stack too much together or at a bad time of day/week.

I am not in anyway opposed to Rx medication for anxiety, depression, or high blood pressure. Please work with your doctors on those things. I just want to suggest there are environmental changes that will need to be made as his diseases progress. If he is agitated and angry, it is time to make them by evaluating the pace and pattern of your life to see if it matches his changing needs.

Always think outside the box. If you catch yourself saying things like "we can't" "that can never happen" "it's impossible" that is a cue for you to slow down and look at things a different way. Either ubadapt or the disease will FORCE you do to change. It is best to come to that reality sooner and on your own terms before it brings you to your knees. There is always another option, often it is better than what we first thought we needed.
Good luck to you on this journey. ♡
Helpful Answer (3)

I like this suggestion:
" Alter the mood with music or fragrance to help calm him (and you) down"
1. was above. 
2. Realize you likely can't change his mood. It is internal. You might be able to affect the environment (music, posters, art, movies, DVDs, etc).
3. Wondering if massage would help - a hand massage?
4. Stop / minimize talking. Don't 'try to talk him out of talking or complaining.' He needs to get it out and he will with whoever is in front of him. Loved ones are in the line of fire ...
5. Easier said than done: don't take it personally.
- Give yourself time outs
- Look at an album of when you and he were good together - reflect on the good days, if this will help vs make you sadder.
- Sit there and knit or do something. If you are sitting there, he may not feel so alone, and you can read or do something. He is miserable and often no words can help. Just being there might.
6. Take care of yourself. Make a list of what will help YOU feel better ... what you can do for 5 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours, etc. And what you can do sitting there (if anything).
7. When I am in a bad mood - as is often these days, I shift to gratitude as often as I can ... and jog. Slow, although slow is better than nothing and I revere nature so it is good for me. I know this isn't about me - point was to consider GRATITUDES to support you.

A hug to you, Gena.
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