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My husband, in a middle stage of vascular Alzheimer's, is great at "showtiming". It's an Alz Assn term for the ability to rally for short periods of time, like a dinner party or a doctor's appointment. The effort of it, however, makes him crash afterwards. This year, at Thanksgiving, EVERYONE told me that Henry seemed "fine." And he did, sort of. (Until later, back at the hotel when all hell broke loose.) I find myself resenting Henry's superpower of acting normal around others only to fall apart around me. It makes me feel more isolated. As if I am making up Henry's illness. Anyone else have this same experience?

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My wife would do, and still does this frequently. She has mild to moderately advanced dementia. It used to drive me crazy, especially when she would tell everyone she was "just fine." She has two sons (we were both married before) who, out of their own convenience, believe she really is fine, yet never ever offer to take her to their own homes for care and tell me that it's "my job." Here's how I've dealt with it. I've informed her sons of the reality and how things will only get worse and then washed my hands of them. I can't change them. Through getting some education, I've learned what "showtiming" is and am now often grateful for it. It shows (to me) that she really does know what's happening and is doing her best to hold it together. Through talks with her and her doctors, we've been honest with one another and that has helped. I no longer resent her superpower. I also realize that one day, she will no longer have the superpower. Make the best of the time you have now and be sure to also take care of yourself. In order to take care of another person, you must first take care of yourself. Best wishes.
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BlackHole Nov 2018
You have an awesome perspective, Peter. (Been there, but can’t say I did that! You are much more emotionally generous than I was when my mom turned on the charm for everyone except me.) Blessings to you. Take care of yourself.
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It is not vain to take some credit for assisting Henry to look good for awhile.
This perspective can help you cope.
Wives often make their hubs look good even without Alzheimers.
Only you know.
However, EVERYONE mentioned he seemed fine. Maybe they were attempting to make you feel good, not judge you. They were judging Henry. If he were actually fine, NO ONE would have needed to say he seemed fine, imo.

Take better care of yourself this week.
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AvaC42 Nov 2018
That is a very good point - people don't talk about others seeming fine unless there is a recognition that they really aren't. So when people say that to me about my Mom, I know they are taking about that day or that party or that holiday. But they also know that isn't the way it is other times and I'm just glad she was able to pull it together enough not to feel embarrassed by her condition.
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Sometimes it is very hard to release our LOs AND OURSELVES from the expectations of others, but no one knows better than you do what happens as the aftermath of one of your husband’s “fine” displays.

My LO was described to me as functioning in something like a delicate donut of social adequacy, cracking jokes, asking superficial but somewhat suitable social questions, facial expressions of sympathy or humor or even comprehension, when her memory span is typically only a few minutes.

Given that explanation by a trusted professional trained in geriatric psychiatry, I can give close family and acquaintances a brief idea of what I KNOW about where she is really functioning cognitively.

I certainly understand your resentment. It is TERRIBLY painful to see my LO seemingly being as she was in her prior life, while I now deal with the tragic lapses that demonstrate to me how she actually is now, in her dementia stained present, but it is also MUCH less difficult to let the uninformed comments go now that I am fully aware of what she does and why it happens.

People who would think you were making up what is happening in your life with your husband really are not worth ANY concern on your part.

I make some of the decisions regarding my LO”s activities based on protecting her from feeling pressured to be “fine”’ because as you have experienced, the aftermath is becoming too difficult for us both.

Be proud of yourself and release yourself from the resentment as often as you can. How many of those from whom you feel criticism would trade places with you in caring for a LO wit dementia?
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Dexieboy Nov 2018
Very well written. Thank you.
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I have been dealing with this my ENTIRE life. My mother has ALWAYS acted differently around “other” people. With me, she says what she wants, does what she wants, she eats what she wants, etc.
Now she has Alzheimer’s and it is even worse. So my anger with this has led me to seek counseling and it has helped tremendously. She moved in 5 years ago with me (before Alz) and my husband and son saw right through it. I keep hearing from everyone that this is only gonna get worse and to be honest, I don’t know how much more I can take. I only have one sibling who lives far away and have no other family around. But I just wanted to let you know that I TOTALLY understand what you are going through!😢
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Mtibarr Nov 2018
I totally understand this, my Mom
has been different around others my
entire life as well.I do get it.It May take 3 days to get her out of house to go to Dr’s or funeral.But she gets
there and is a fine actress.Then after
she is exhausted, staying up all night
raiding the fridge.Quick tempered and argumentative.This website has been sooo helpful.The Emperor has on No clothes! Yeah, that’s what it’s like😢
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Alzheimer patients try so hard to act "Normal".  They haven't been able to hide it from you since you're with them all the time.  My Aunt Mary used to ask visitors "How's you Folks"?  Sounds like a "Normal" question, doesn't it?  The visitor then had the opportunity to talk, talk, talk about  any and all relatives with any type problem.  Then would tell me Aunt Mary was just fine because "She even remembered my brother that broke his leg" or whatever.  NO, Aunt Mary didn't ask any direct question.  She only said, "How's your folks".  The visitor was so happy to have someone listen to THEIR frustrations and chance to talk and unload.  People feel uncomfortable around an Alzheimer patient and the patient uses oh, so much energy trying to act "Normal"  they are drained when the person leaves.  Relieved they can now rest while they "Figure" out what's going on.  They know things aren't right and they are very scared, regardless of what their actions show otherwise.  We only know a glimmer of what they're actually going through so don't know about you but I think it would terrifying to spend even one minute in their world.
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pcgirl56 Nov 2018
Agree with your well said statements. My Mom is pretty far along her journey but still has enough social grace to cover most times. However, just recently even that is slipping. On a recent visit with one of her sisters she made it clear that she no longer recognizes most family members. As you say, not even a moment in their shoes.
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I say that my Mother can "rise to the occasion". This is true at a public event or even if she and I go away as we do for a weekend around her birthday. I think that the adrenalin of the moment and the excitement help her through. Also when she is around people whom she has known since earlier in her life - family and long time friends - the conversations are mostly about what they have in common like past memories and some about what is very present. Those are the memories she has best access to. This was also true for my Dad when he was with longtime acquaintances. He was a bit more agitated in new situations than she is. My Mom also used to resent it when people told her my Dad looked good. So, I understand what you are saying.

One more thing - some people are made uncomfortable by witnessing a decline. They don't want to lose the friend or they don't want to envision themselves declining (they project) so they gloss it over and cover it up so they don't have to get too deep into it. Or, if they notice, they may feel obligated to help out.

As time goes on - it becomes necessary to get our validation for what we are going through from others who have gone through it before or our own close immediate circle who are likely more tuned in.
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Jeninea Nov 2018
You are so right.  Experience helps us to help others.
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I'm so sorry for what you are going through.  Unfortunately, other people will never 'get it' unless they have extended, 1:1 time with him.  My husband has frontal brain syndrome secondary to radiation therapy, chemo and a partial tumor resection.  Been witnessing this phenom the past 5 years or so and it is so frustrating when non caregivers (read my husbands 9 sibs, my own 4) say "he seems great!" or "he is always so positive" after a very brief interaction.  Meanwhile, we are living the reality 24/7-my reality is that he requires constant redirection and coaching and even safety reminders (hold on to the railing).  When I mention that I have begun looking for assisted living facilities everyone is up in arms, and yet, not stepping up.  Take care of you.  Hotels and other out of the norm situations only make things harder for you.
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Jeninea Nov 2018
Since "He seems so great", a great opportunity for him to stay with them for a week while you visit other relatives in another state, go on a short cruise or anything that gets you out of town for a few days.  Seeing is believing on their part so you will not  hear them say that again and you've enjoyed a few days rest.  Go for it.  If they say he did great, go for it again.
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My Mother in Law is an expert at this. Showtiming is a good name for it. She can pull her act together for short periods and is all sweetness and light, but alone with us, it's a different story and she gives us hell about everything. Her memory has gotten pretty bad and if she can't remember something, it didn't happen and no one is going to change her mind about it. Like Doctors saying she needs to quit driving, but once out of their office, she doesn't remember that so it didn't happen and why are we making lies like that up. Then it's why don't we let her drive?

Can't win for losing...
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jacobsonbob Nov 2018
I remember being one of the "outsiders" a couple decades ago when a widowed neighbor of my parents was taking care of an elderly woman. I told my neighbor this woman always seems so pleasant whenever I stopped in. She said "Ooooh, you have no idea what she's like when you're not here!" However, I don't know if this woman had dementia or was simply nasty.
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Based on some of the replies I'm seeing I feel it necessary to mention that in most cases, the person exhibiting this behavior is not doing it deliberately, at least not in a malicious way. They are desperately trying to maintain a sense of reality for others and mostly for themselves. They even know that later they will "crash and burn" from the effort to maintain the status quo. A similar aspect is called "sundowning." The person works very hard during the day to maintain their grasp on things and then late in the day, as they tire out, they can't maintain the façade any longer and lapse into their dementia. Just tossing this out for anyone that it might be beneficial to. (FYI, my wife does this. It was frustrating until I understood it better.)
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Though my husband recently passed, that behavior was very prevalent whenever family or friends visited or we went to visit on Father's Day or birthdays. Unless someone can somehow witness the fall back into the depth of the dementia the only hope is to provide them with articles written by experts in the field. It was so frustrating during my husband's illness.
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