My husband is being treated for advanced cll/sll cancer that has transformed to Richter’s. In addition, he has severe HF, diabetes and depression. He stays in bed or on the couch and watches tv all day. Has trouble walking and refuses to use a cane or walker in the house. He also takes a lot of meds. He has stopped driving. He won’t go outside except when we go to his doctor appointments. Has he given up? Talks about wanting to die. He’s 77. I’m doing my best to keep him comfortable and happy. Should I just leave him alone in his misery and just take care of basic needs? The kids stop by once in a while. They have their jobs and kids. I’m exhausted.

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Have you had a conversation with your husband about hospice? If not, would that be something to consider?
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Reply to Countrymouse

Dang--I could have written that post.

My Dh, age 68, and still working FT, plans to retire the day after I turn 65, this July. His retirement plans?




Hot bath for 3-4 hours, then...


Yes, he is supremely depressed. He has many health issues and it is a huge miracle he's even alive.

I'm completely unable to even wrap my brain around this 'new' dynamic for which we are NOT prepared. He was going to work until 70. Just another 8 months past the July date.

When he chooses to sleep for 2-4 days, I shut the bedroom door and if he shows up when I have made meals, he eats. I refuse to bring him meals in bed.

The statement 'but when I retire, so do you!' has fallen on wise and deaf ears. My workload will double. He's a messy, messy guy. He's does NOTHING around the house and never has.

I have zero advice for you, only the deepest sympathy.
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Reply to Midkid58

Seems to me you are exhausted from trying to get him to do what he does not want to do. Have a talk with his doctor and let him be. Provide the basics as suggested by the doctor and surround him with things he enjoys, whether it be music, sports etc. I have had two family members with similar situations recently and I regret trying to impose my ideas of what they should be doing on them.
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Reply to Regent

First of all I would make an appointment with his doctor. He may need an antidepressant. My brother had cancer and the meds helped him cope better before he died. He also had a priest visit him frequently which helped him emotionally and spiritually. I would discuss palliative/hospice care with his doctor. You need support and direction and the services they provide would be beneficial to your husband as well as yourself. It is difficult to care for a loved one and it can be exhausting. I feel for you and I would let him be and provide the basics for now. Let him watch TV and rest in bed if he wants to. He is ill and depressed and you can't force someone to engage if he does not want to. We let my brother do what he wanted. We made sure he had his shower, ate and drank if he felt like it, had his pain med otherwise he rested in the recliner or in bed. The best to you. Thoughts and prayers to both of you.
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Reply to earlybird

If he is talking about wanting to die, his depression is not under control. He needs to see a psychiatrist. Ask your husband if he has considered how he wants to die, if he has any suicidal ideation, he needs and inpatient psychiatric evaluation.

Ask his oncologist about your husband's prognosis. If he is terminal, your insurance should pay for hospice and you would receive more paid help. Even if your husband is "curable", his oncologist needs to know that your husband is losing the will to live. May his treatment needs to be adjusted.

As for yourself, it seems the care needed by your husband is wearing you out. Please ask family, friends, members of your faith community, and paid (sitters, home health...) for help. You need time to get 7-9 hours of sleep, 3 regular meals, time to care for yourself, and time to socialize with others.
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Reply to Taarna

I'm so sorry you both are going through this, it sounds incredibly difficult.

For what it's worth, I'm 46, and thanks to my chronic pain and autoimmune disorders, I have days (more than I would like) where all I can do is stay in bed or on the couch. I have trouble walking sometimes, take a lot of meds (10 daily? I forget) and since the sun aggravates my condition, I tend to avoid the outside like the plague. I get easily overwhelmed by loud noise, bright light, any smells at all, and people in general (i.e. like crowded grocery stores). I get grouchy and depressed a lot, especially when I'm in a lot of pain or I feel like I "can't do anything anymore."

With the diagnoses you've mentioned your husband has, several of which are incredibly serious and I imagine painful as well, I'm not really sure what you're *expecting* from him... I mean, I can't think he would be especially *cheery* and full of energy right now? What you've described sounds mostly normal for someone who is severely ill...?

That being said, no, since you're asking, I certainly don't think you should "just leave him alone in his misery" as you described, even if that's what he says he wants. He needs you, though he may not be willing to admit it just now, and not abandoning him will mean the world to him, even if he *doesn't* admit it.

It does sound like you could definitely use some respite care though. You are important too!! and you matter. Caretaking *is* exhausting and we all need a break to keep from getting burned out. Luckily in my case I still have a couple of millennials at home to help out when I start wanting to pull my hair out. Can your kids maybe work out a schedule between themselves to take over a day a week to give your some time off, or maybe as some others mentioned check into that hospice eval? Perhaps insurance would cover home health assistance?

Best of luck, hang in there
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Reply to spoonielife

Yes, let him decide his final days/months/? Consider asking for a Hospice eval.
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Reply to Compassionate5

*Generally,* men deal (or not) with depression and negative emotions in a different way than women. Maybe he needs to regain a sense of purpose or usefulness? Even something small. Something local. Is he a veteran? Maybe he can write a short article of his experiences and what he learned for a local publication (or even -- even if he didn't see any war "action". Or even his life experiences that most formed his character? His older self giving advice to his younger self. He can dictate and you can write it for him, if that's what it takes. What was his occupation before retirement? Can he give advice on an online forum related to his knowledge base? Does he have any buddies that can pursue him even though he is withdrawing? A card game, a car ride, or such? A long time ago I learned that when men "go into their cave" to NOT sit outside the cave and wait for them ;-) This is hard to do. I should know, since I'm married to a man of 100% Scandinavian heritage: masters of emotional repression and passive-aggressive communication. I am hopeful that you will get creative suggestions and supportive responses. Peace to you both.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Geaton777

Yes, take care of him, see to his basic needs, and be open to his discussions. With both heart failure and cancer he may well have decided that life is too hard now, and that he is ready to go. Has he discussed palliative care? Are either of you aware of palliative care and hospice? Have you discussed this with his doctor. I am certain you would rather he fight harder for his life, and to stay with you, but it sounds as though life is too hard now for him, and it is truly up to him how he wishes to spend this last time, in my humble opinion, as a lifelong nurse (now long retired). Most of all, listen to him. Depression is not always something to pop a pill over, to try to beat down. Depression is an honest response to being daily miserable and in pain, with every simple activity of daily living a trial, with understanding full well the exhaustion of those around you trying to care for you. So listen to him. Don't argue with him. Tell him how it grieves you to see him so ill and hopeless. Try to sit together with a memory book and talk of your lives. And speak together with the doctor of palliative care and hospice now. I am so very very sorry.
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Reply to AlvaDeer

Are you able to get a break from caregiving? Able to get outside and walk a bit?
Are you able to get a caregiver for a few hours a week, to give you a break?
Is your husband on hospice?
Tell us more, and I'm sure there will be other posters with some ideas.
Best wishes to you.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to cxmoody

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