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My wife is mid level ALZ and needs help with everything. She is not bedfast, but spends the day either sleeping or watching TV. She shuffles, feeds herself, but speech is mostly gibberish. However, she is aware of conversation and generally understands what people are saying. She is 78 years old.

I am the sole caregiver, and in addition to tending to her physical needs, take care of the house, laundry, and food preparation. I am a healthy 83 year old and expect to meet her needs as long as necessary. I am not complaining about that, but I just need a break. A few days away from the daily drudgery, a chance to laugh and talk to regular people.

I can get somebody to come in for several days, but I just can't see how I can explain it to her. She will think I am leaving her.

Has anybody faced this and how did you handle it. Comments appreciated.

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That's a lot to do for anyone. I would certainly try to find someone to come in and help a few days per week so you can have them off. But, I would more than likely locate a Memory Care facility. As she progresses, it will be more difficult to care for her around the clock. When you are aren't so exhausted, it's likely that you can enjoy spending time with her more.

Based on your description, I would think that she is not inclined to be sensitive or objectionable to your outings. I would approach it calmly and leave and return with no fan fare. It's highly likely she will not recall that you left.
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Jess82 Do you consider putting her to nursing home facility? I used to take care this couple who his wife has dementia. In the last 3 weeks things are not easy for her when the family had decided to put her to nursing care. Sometimes she had good and bad days . Meanwhile the husband is at home and having so much relieve and able to do things that he missed of doing like going to church eating out with friends, visiting friends and just to have a quiet time alone by himself without stressed and anxiety. He also used single cane and has his own health issues and needs care himself. dont wait the time until your burn out and get sick. It should be a big help for u and the rest of the family. Get yourself a break . Take care
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Jess, I look at it this way. If you don't get REGULAR respite, you are going to burn out and end up dialed and not able to care for her. Then where is she? In a facility with NO advocate. So, make your arrangements and go have fun. If you do this regularly, she will know on some level that you're always coming back.

Many years ago, my aunt was persuaded after many years of caring on her own for my uncle with Alzheimers, that he would be fine in memory care. He WAS fine, in fact he thrived there. She dropped dead of a heart attack a few months after his placement. Don't wait as long as she did to take a break, please.
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He was perfectly safe in the nursing care. He got fed, changed, washed, and it wasn't the best plans, but MIL needed the break, and dad got a day out with someone else tending to his needs.
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My MIL needed a break. She talked with doctor, and she wrote up a prescription to be transferred into a nursing care faclilty for a couple of days. Us kids went over every day to say hello, and for him to see his granddaughter a couple times. it was for appro. 3 days for her to rest relax, and recharge.
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If it's safe to leave her alone, you could turn these solitary excursions into something positive by bringing a treat back for her. Then she may be able to pattern them in her mind and look forward to them.

If she likes flowers, you could bring her a few roses or small bouquet each time you leave. Or maybe a small box of candy, or apples or other fresh fruit. Best yet would be to bring something that the two of you can enjoy, but make it a surprise.

Alternately, would you consider taking her for a short trip as well, so you both get out of the house and have your own respective respite times? Perhaps a drive through a park, along a lake, to a cider mill in autumn....something beautiful and relaxing...

Or do you think the change of scenery might be too confusing?
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Hi Jess, part of dementia is the reality that the patient can't remember what you said or where you are. Make arrangements, don't dwell on the topic. If someone will come into your home to provide caregiving, bring them in ahead of time so your wife gets used to the caregiver and the caregiver gets used to the routine. If you will make arrangements for respite care at a facility, try to bring some of your wife's favorite things beforehand so there are familiar things around. When my Mom went from rehab to Assisted living, I simply said the doctor wanted her to get more practice walking and we were bringing her closer to our home. I KNOW I was very lucky, my Mom simply accepted everything. Sense of time is affected by dementia so keep that in mind. When I went away for a week, I kept it simple, I was going away for a short time and my sister would be there to visit with her. I think we are try to deal with our own feelings but our loved ones are in a different place. Make plans and enjoy your respite time. You deserve it. AND you NEED it.
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Jess, you do need respite. If you have someone to come in, then please take advantage of it and give yourself a break. You can write a note on a whiteboard to your wife to remind her where you are and when you'll be back. Maybe she would understand it if she knew it was a spiritual retreat for you. To me, this is what respite is -- a spiritual retreat. We need time to refresh our spirits and wash away all the worries and disappointments. Don't feel guilty about caring for yourself. You are important and you need to care for yourself as well as your wife.

You sound like a wonderful husband. Your wife is a lucky lady.
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Jess, I totally feel for your situation. Sometimes we all need a rest and a break, no matter how much we love our care recipient.

Do you have any friends or relatives that live out of town that you could pretend to be visiting? Hopefully not one of your kids, since your wife might feel left out or insist that they come visit instead of you leaving. A high school or college reunion that you could pretend to go to? Any sports or events that you like but she doesn't such as that you might get invited to by an old friend? If all else fails, you could pretend to be going into the hospital for a minor elective surgery.

Hope this helps.
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I don't share your experience but I sympathise. I think you need to step out and maintain a life for yourself. It will be hard for your wife but she'll live. In the long run it will benefit you both. You bring up a very good topic. I'm sure you will get many helpful suggestions and advice from those who share this situation.
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