Patient with dementia has a new physical problem everyday. How do I handle this?

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My husband (with dementia and living at home with mw) seems to have one little problem after another. They don't seem to be serious ones, but, of course, he tells me about them constantly. I get tired hearing about them, make an appointment with someone I think can help. After I interrupt my own fitness program to get him to the appointment, he doesn't know why he HAS TO GO. He doesn't remember what he's been complaining about. Not only is it embarrassing to me, but I'm getting tired of never having time to take care of myself. Although he seems to be quite healthy, he is now going to 3 doctors, a dentist (out of town) and now a physical therapist (every other day). The therapist gave him an exercise to do at home, which, of course, is another responsibility for me. I must keep reminding him to do it and he never understands, nor does he do it correctly. I am about ready to just ignore his complaints unless they are so severe that there's no alternative. I'm interested in knowing if others have suggestions on this?

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Dementia can make people obsess over every little thing. The fact that he forgets later is because of his dementia. I don't think he's trying to make things difficult for you. His brain is steadily being destroyed by the disease.

I agree with Pam in that some of these things are just aging issues which you can put off a bit and then see if he continues to complain over time.

You might want to look into adult day care for him. If he's better occupied, he may not find as many issues to complain about. That would give you time to do your health care routines, too.

It's never easy to know what health complaints need attention and what smaller issue you can let go. But diversion could help.

We would love to have your keep us informed on your life and how this is going for you.

Continue to take care of yourself - get help if needed.
Carol
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"I feel as though my entire life has been snatched from me."

Yup. In many ways it has been. To have your life partner, your soul mate, your other half become your dependent is absolutely life-changing. If it weren't his aches and pains that were driving home this reality it would be something else. Not only do you now have to care for him, decide for him, think for him, you also have to take over whatever tasks he used to perform.

My mother has dementia. It is sad. It is stressful. But it doesn't hold a candle to the stress level (for me) of my husband having dementia. One person gets dementia but the whole family suffers from it, and the spouse suffers in more intimate ways.

So I offer you hugs. And a little snippet of advice. You MUST retain at least some of your own life. And, yes, this just adds to your to-do list and is another source of stress, but it must be done if you want to end this journey sane and with enough energy to reclaim your life on your own. I suggest the first area you carve out is your own health routines. Except for an actual emergency, put those things first. Get some "me" time on a regular basis.

One thing I wish I'd done differently is to have gotten more help and earlier in the journey. When I got it it made a world of difference. My husband went to an adult day health center a few days a week. And when he declined too much for that, we had a personal care attendant four days a week at home. The PCA helped him with the exercises the PT gave him to do. It helped to know that I was in charge of his care but that I didn't have to do every minute of it myself.

Dementia in a spouse can snatch your entire life from you if you let it. Resist. Hang on to as much of it as you can. Some things you may have to defer until your caregiving role is over. But don't let be everything.

Best wishes to you.
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He is bored and self-obsessed. Stop running to the doctors. Tell him you'll bring up the hemmorhoids, knees and fingers at the next office visit. By then he will be "cured" of his maladies. He just wants to be the center of your attention. He is very good at controlling you.
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Campy, it was the same way with my mother. It has gotten better as her mind has become worse. Some of her complaints were real and needed medical attention. Others were because she fixated on something until it became a terrible symptom with her. We spent a lot of time at doctors for a couple of years. To save my sanity I learned to filter through what was doctor-worthy, what was home-remedy-worthy, and what was worthy to be ignored. I have always worried about it, though. What if I was overlooking something that was important. So far, so good when it comes to judgment. We have a nice option near us that I use to comfort her. An urgent care clinic is about 4 blocks away. I tell her if it gets worse, we'll just run up there. We've done that twice when it was needed. I love the urgent care places. They are great when an ER is not called for.
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A carbon copy of my mother, 82 with dementia. Here is an excerpt from the journal I keep for sanity's sake:
Mom has a series---I mean a circular series of ailments. I have addressed ALL of them with her doctor. Over the past years she has brought up (and seen the doc for --- and not in sequential order): her broken wrist, her trigger finger, her carpal tunnel, her hemorrhoids, her teeth (still working on this), her warts/moles on her skin, her watery eyes (which she needs surgery to fully correct), her vision (erroneously bought her reading glasses which she doesn't use), her blood sugar (ongoing), her toenail (which we have half removed once), her back/hip (gone to doc and physical therapy and she now doesn't even remember having a back problem which went on for months), her hair (not a physical problem but part of the body), wrinkles on her skin and age spots, her stomach (have done all except 'scoping' her stomach. not gonna do that).
Not only do we re-visit these ailments over and over but once in awhile she will come up with a new one. Just yesterday we were in the kitchen and she starts slightly massaging her chest muscle and says something to the effect, "I need to go to the doctor about this 'soreness' on my chest". I say (naturally), "what soreness"? She proceeds to tell me about this 'tender or sore' area that she is experiencing. I will tell her that I didn't know about it. When did it show up? And this is the clincher. She will say to me, "Oh, I've had this thing for awhile...."!
Then this last thing that just happened was funny. I woke one morning to my mother calling me that she didn't feel good---she had an intense headache. I proceed to make sure all vitals are good and fix her pillows and body in her bed. I only had this essential oil of peppermint to put on her head and did so. I left the room for 5 minutes to go get a tylenol and came back to give it to her. I say, "here's the Tylenol for your headache". She responds, "What headache? I don't have a headache"!!!!
Have a good day all..
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Try a blessings time. I do this for myself when I feel overwhelmed by caring for both my parents, turning 90 this year and both in poor health. I force myself to think of 3 blessings every day. Then share them with someone. This forces me to look for the good in my day and not to focus on the bad. I do this with my Mom. Parkinsons and a stroke has caused the gradual loss of connections to her arms and legs. When she just cries all the time I force her to tell me what she can do. We list can do's until she no longer has that deep worry wrinkle between her eyes. Then we go find something pleasant to do. As for loosing your life to caregiving.... my only thought on that is MY CHILDREN WILL NEVER, EVER DO THIS FOR ME. I wouldn't wish this on anyone! I know there are people who find this a gratifying job but I am not one of them. I love my parents very much but I resent having to give up so much.
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Thank you for your advice - but the problems aren't itching arms or stomach ache. First, every time we try to go somewhere - ANYWHERE - he starts running to the bathroom and ends up with bleeding hemmorhoid. I've talked to the doctor, but he won't do anything about them (even though he knows they are there) unless we first have a colonoscopy. The last attempted colonoscopy the doc couldn't get all the way, so did a barium enema later,which was ok. Now, they send him to a specialist a month ago and he can't do the scope until the end of July.

Next he complains daily about his knee hurting. The doctor ordered an X-Ray, which we've heard nothing about yet. The latest is a finger on his right hand that won't open up. We've started with a PT to see if therapy will help. That's a trip to Rehab every other day. Meanwhile, he's had to have four iron infusions - loss of blood unknown. He also got new dentures in the middle of all of this.

Maybe that gives you just a little idea of the trips I make. And this is causing me NOT to be able to keep up with my own health - exercise,etc. I have dropped out of everything I ever did for enjoyment and vacations. I'm 4 yrs. Younger than my husband and, so far, am in good health. I feel as though my entire life has been snatched from me.
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My mom is 89, has many physical complaints as well. She has degenerative arthritis of the spine and severe scholiosis, has been on heavy duty narcotics for 3 years, now has a pain pump. Most recently, her heart issues started again and has had a pace maker put in. She goes further down and recovers less every time something happens. She is almost never without some sort of pain or severe discomfort. She has also lost much personal dignity because of all the help she requires from myself and my sister in her daily personal care.

The current health care system does not help the elderly. What I have noted both in hospitals and with physicians that they tend to treat the elderly no different than younger folks. They prescribe the same dosages of medicine even though every RX I read states that side effects are much more severe in the elderly and it takes longer for the med to clear their systems. When my mother was in the hospital recently, they wanted to do 3 major tests and procedures one after the other, when one made her so weak and exhausted, she could barely stand up. I had to threaten withdrawing consent to get them to allow her rest in between.

My mother has always been a person with great personal strength but daily struggles with health issues and coping with chronic pain issues have stolen all of it. She speaks of wanting to die every single day.

I say all this because I too have feelings that sometimes my entire life is consumed with caring for my mother and advocating for her in a sometimes chaotic and uncaring health system, and even indulge in self pity sometimes because of it. I have given up church activities and other social activities, and even a lot of my own health care ( as I am 65 myself, but healthy thank the lord). I try each time I am down to remind myself of all that my mother has lost: her dignity, her husband and the home that they shared, my brother who died of heart failure at 39, the activities she enjoyed such as exercise, reading (she also has macula degeneration and has lost most of her sight), and countless other things. I remind myself of all that she did for me when I was a child, a young adult who still needed the guidance, wisdom, and yes sometimes money of my parents. I think of all that, get up, and take each day at a time, get through the bad ones, enjoy the few times when mom does feel OK, ask God for strength every day, and go on. What else can we do?
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It would depend upon what his complaints are. "My arm is itching" isn't in the same category of complaints as "my chest hurts".

You can't run to the Dr. every time your husband has some minor complaint. For example, if he complains of a stomach ache try to Pepto or an antacid. Give him some Advil. Try a little Miralax. If you've done all of these things and he's still complaining that would be the time to call the Dr. But use your own best judgement first. See if you can alleviate the problem yourself first before running to the Dr. If not, call for an appointment. No one goes to the Dr. for every little thing that comes up on a daily basis. When I cared for my dad he had multiple health issues and while he wasn't a complainer I had to prioritize his health issues. A bruise or cut that wouldn't heal wouldn't get my attention as much as blood in the toilet would. And that cut I'd treat with Neosporin and a bandaid and just keep an eye on it for a few days.

And I'm sure you can always call his Dr. and ask the nurse for an opinion. Or call a nurses hotline for an opinion. But you shouldn't have to run to the Dr. everyday for some minor thing that your husband doesn't even remember complaining about.
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Daughter52' you are describing my situation perfectly. I just don't communicate as well as you. Most of the illnesses you describe are the SAME ones that I hear about. Also, the last situation where she forgot she had a headache - we've gone through that as well.

As for the person who said, "only 3 doctors, I have 9" I actually listed 5 including the therapist. Anyway, it doesn't matter how many, it's how many TRIPS you make that counts.

I guess I've heard enough on this subject. I didn't get on this website to get criticism. For those who understood my frustration and made suggestions that are helpful, "THANK YOU!"
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