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My spouse is a 87 year old man that had a stroke nine years ago. Recently his mobility has gotten much worse. He cannot dress himself, bathe himself and can barely walk using his walker. A year ago he didn't use a walker. Over the past several months he has started waking up in the middle of the night to ask questions. Some of the more memorable ones go like this, "Mary, Mary....I don't think I am breathing." Me..."are you alive? " "yes." Are you gasping for air?" "No." "then I think you are breathing." "Okay." ...Sometimes he insists I get up and check that the clocks are correct as he is sure its much later than 3 AM. No, its 3 AM. I am exhausted all the time now, which puts me in a pretty bad mood. He goes to bed at 8 and gets up at 4. He might wake up three or four times a night. I haven't talked to his doctor about this yet. I've just started seeing things that resemble dementia very recently, like creating a scene at the doctors office etc. Any ideas?

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Well when my mom would say, "Oh I'm fine" when the doctor asked her about things, I'd chime right in and say, "Mom, remember when you complained about this or that or whatever." I'd never let her get away with minimizing what was going on. That's show timing and a LOT of seniors are masters of that game. My mom had no short-term memory, so she probably couldn't remember. Your husband has some definitive cognitive issues, so he may not remember. A lot of seniors also don't want to complain or bother doctors. Made me nuts with my mom.

You need to make sure the doctor understands that the frequent night-time waking is creating problems for YOU, his caregiver. If your husband has a good doctor, he/she should be able to work around your husband's answers. Just make sure you get the facts to the doctor ahead of time. I wrote my comments out and gave them to the office manager when I checked in and asked her to make sure mom's doctor saw them before mom's appointment. Good luck and please keep us posted.
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I remember those days and just when I thought I couldn't handle it anymore, my husband passed. For us, drugs just made things worse. I finally ended up (with doctor's permission) giving him supplements of ashwaganda, 5HTP and 1 mg melatonin. It's very important not to overdo the melatonin or it will have the opposite effect. I know how exhausted you are but honestly, I'd give anything for our 4 am talks now. I wish there was a way around this besides death. Maybe meds will work for you guys. You are in my prayers. It's a hard, hard road. Start researching, reading all the books you can, and keep coming back here. You need all the help you can get. God bless.
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I would likely discuss with his doctor. I made a list of all my observations of my LO's behavior and dropped them off for the doctor to see before the appt. That way, he has the heads up and is able to get the big picture. He can order any tests that might indicate what's going on, but, also I'd inquire about the sleep issues. My LO takes a tiny amount of med to help her sleep.
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I have separate bedrooms because my husband fights in his sleep all night long. There may be a drug the Dr. could prescribe for anxiety that will help him stay asleep and get a better nights rest. And you too. Before you fill the prescription check the side effects of the drug. Sometimes they’re worse than the problem your trying to correct.
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Can we assume you are close to hubby's age? - you need your sleep get help now before you get sick

Do you have a cell phone? - if so record a few incidents & show dr. at app't - I agree to document a few & let dr. read it all before app't - I have got mom to do things by saying that she previously agreed & 'remember?' - don't do to often but when you need to get him to app'ts etc. - if he is reluctant about dr. app't then put a large bandaid on somewhere like a leg or ankle when dressing him - then say 'we're going to have this checked out by the dr. like you asked' so that he thinks it was his idea so more co-operative
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I can truly relate, as my husband is 83 and has experienced sundowning for about a year now. He has some good nights, but when he does sleep well, he wets the bed though I place layers of pads, have a waterproof matress pad and sheet and wears disposable nighttime underwear. When he has a good night he is up and down and very confused and aggressive. I am so afraid to really fall asleep for fear that he will engage in one or more of many risky behaviors. I honestly do not have good advice to give you, because I am searching too. He used to be on Lorazepam for sleep and for stress, but in trying to simplify his meds, he is now on melatonin. He actually does better on the melatonin. But as he declines, he sleeps more during the day and most nights, less at night. It is like having a newborn and I try to catch catnaps while he naps. It doesn't totally make up for the lost sleep but it helps. Yesterday his daughter came to visit and I asked her if I could nap while she was here. It felt so good to actually relax for an hour! If you have any good friends or family who could offer this brief respite, Don't be afraid to ask. Just orient them to the possible behaviors.
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You have to speak up and it's hard to do. Say, why don't you tell the doctor about this. And if he doesn't remember what he's doing, then you will have to say. I think it's one of the hardest parts of caregiving. Or you can give the doctor the information in advance.
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Put a night light in the room. When he wakes up, gently touch his arm to let him know you are near. Tell him Jesus loves him to soothe is spirit. This worked for me and my mother who just passed away January 5, 2018.
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I agree about alerting the doctor beforehand, because your husband will not remember the incidence or will deny he did such things. Instead of arguing with him, let the doc know what took place and maybe the doc can put him on some med to control his delusions. (Seroquel works well with some people.) Try not to have an argument with him in the doc’s office. It will be embarassing and fruitless.
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1. I agree with everyone who has said to drop a note/email prior to the appointment spelling out your concerns. That gives the doctor a little time to think about your situation or at least come in for that ever so quick visit prepared to view your husband in that light, despite the "everything's fine" speech.
2. Medications do help. My mom had a lot of anxiety. Things stabilized about 3 months ago when she started Aricept (slows but does not stop the progression of Alzheimers), Trazodone (a nonaddictive anxiety drug often prescribed for sleep as well), and Lorazapam (anxiety). I am very anti-meds, but when I saw firsthand some of the things going on, I knew this was not the "normal" anxiety you or I might have, and that the person (my mom) deserves some peace and relief from the chaos going on in her mind. Best wishes!
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