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My spouse who has dementia and lately has been very hostile and angry towards me. I have been doing everything and yet being accused of doing nothing for him. He swears nothing is wrong with him and its all me. I have been having headaches and panic attacks now and don't know where to turn. I seriously thought about just leaving but feel guilty. But don't I have the right to do what is right for me or am I just being selfish.

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Next time, go to the E.R with your panic attack so the proper treatment can kick in.
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When the hostile/angry changes moods to something else, there you are, stuck in it even further, waiting for the other shoe to drop, walking on eggshells, thinking something is really wrong with you. Peruse this website as tolerated, then please check back so that we won't worry about you. This won't be over in just a day or two.
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See a good psychiatrist for the meds, then a therapist to talk this out over the long run. If you come back on this thread, you will get help , and even if you do nothing to improve your situation right away, there will be suggestions on how to cope. I am starting to believe it is rare that women can escape from abusive situations without real help.
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Careful with the Xanax, though. It can be addicting, so you only want to use it as needed. That is why doctors favor using an antidepressant for the long run. They don't want to replace one problem with another (addiction).
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Get yourself a prescription for Xanax. Xanax is a good first try because you can take it only as needed whereas antidepressants require time to build up their therapeutic effect and that can take months and have side effects that you didn't want or plan on. Once you have your Xanax in hand, click on "Senior Living" up above and then select "Alzheimer's Care." Enter your zip code and speak with a professional advisor about getting your husband professional care. There came a point with my inlaws when their needs exceeded what I was capable and qualified to do. Good luck! - NYDIL
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jmck, I know how terrible panic attacks are. Pam had excellent advice about talking to your doctor to get some relief from these. Doctors often try an antidepressant, with a sedative (e.g. Xanax) backup to help until the antidepressant is effective alone. It is good to treat them early to keep them from generalizing.

Your husband may be going through a hostile phase, as Jeanne wrote. You'll have to decide how much you can tolerate and see if the doctor can give him something to calm him... if he will take it. I know that he will think that there is nothing wrong with him, and that it is all you. Maybe the doctor and you will convince him that the calming medication will help him in some way other than modifying his behavior.

It is difficult to live with hostility. Do you have anyone who could come in to visit so you could get away on some days. You do need to get away and clear your head every week while you're dealing with this. Have you tried going with him to your local senior center? Many times they have activities that will keep him entertained and staff who can keep a watchful eye. Our local senior center is very good for people with mild to moderate dementia. I have a friend who drops her husband off at our senior center so she can go shopping and get away from him a little while. Her husband uses the computers and exercise room, so is quite content while she's gone.

I do not envy anyone who has a spouse with dementia. Big hugs of support coming your way.
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Of course you have the right and even the responsibility to do what is right for you.

The anger and the hostility and the paranoia in a spouse is exceedingly hard to bear. That was definitely the most stressful part of my husband's dementia (to me). In our case it only lasted a few months. I don't know if I could have survived it if it had gone on indefinitely.

Based on my own experience (things that worked and things that did not) I suggest that you
1. Learn all you can about dementia, and his specific kind of dementia if you have that level of diagnosis. Know what to expect is helpful.
2. Talk with his doctor about this current stage. How long has this hostility been going on? Can the doctor give you any guesses about how long this stage might last? Are there any treatments that might help him be less hostile?
3. Talk with your doctor about your reactions. What can be done to minimize the headaches and panic attacks? Would medications help you deal with this more calmly? Would some talk therapy give you a safety outlet?
4. If at all possible, join a local caregiver support group, ideally one for persons caring for a loved one with dementia.
5. Turning the caring over to professionals might be a necessary option. But that is not quite as easy as it sounds, I know. If he doesn't accept that he has a disease and if he is not in a state to be considered incompetent (in the legal sense) then you can't simply send him to a care center of any kind. It is his choice. Consult an attorney who specializes in Elder Law. Learn what your options are in various circumstances. What would happen if you divorce him? What about becoming his legal guardian? If you leave and notify the various authorities that he is a man with dementia living on his own, what would happen? Talk to a professional who knows the legal aspects of this situation very well. Protect yourself without making his situation worse than it has to be.

This became my mantra: "This is not my dear husband talking. This is the dementia." I can't say it made my life during that period serene, but it did help.

This is a serious challenge, for sure. Talk to the professionals -- his doctor, your doctor, a specialist in Elder Law. Get together with others in situations similar to yours. Do what is right for you, after taking some time to figure out what that is.

Come back and let us know how this develops. We care, and we learn from each other.
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You call your doctor first thing in the morning and get two things: 1. Medication for anxiety 2. Proper placement for your husband.
If you don't get him into a facility, you will be dead before he is. I am not joking, your health is at serious risk for heart attack or stroke. Save yourself first, then throw the life ring to him. Please!
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