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I am an 85 year old male who has been caregiver to my 83 year old wife for the past 3 years. We have been married for 63 years. I am healthy but my wife has many problems and is unable to do anything. She has macular degeneration and her vision is very poor. She has early dementia and is incontinent and sometimes bowel movements. She wears diapers that are changed every 4 hours. She walks inside only with a walker, which is only a period of 30 minutes per day. She has many urinary tract infections which really knock her for a loop. We have a woman that comes every Tuesday from noon until 4 and she cleans and bathes my wife. This gives me a chance to play some golf or do something different. I know that I need more help but feel that I am the only person that can care for her effectively. My wife has lost her conversation ability and becomes agitated when asked questions that she can't answer because of her memory problem. I have tried to get her interested in audio books but she doesn't like that. Her day is spent listening to tv. I would like to hear some suggestions from those people that have been in our situation.
Thanks,
Tom

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I am such a nurse and I couldn't have said it any better than Moxie did.

I cared for my dad in my home for 5 years until I couldn't do it anymore and placed him in a nursing home and giving up being the sole caregiver was a lot more difficult than I thought it was going to be. Who could care for my dear father better than I? So I had to make a trade of sorts. I knew I couldn't do it alone anymore so I had to give up some of that control in order to let the professionals take over. And my dad was treated well just like your wife would be. But the people who will be caring for her aren't family. They're not her husband of 63 years. But if you get some help in there and you begin to feel comfortable enough to take a step back and let others do most of the caregiving the time you will be spending with your wife will mean more to you because it will be quality time. Not work. Not the heartbreaking job I know it is now. She'll be cared for and cared about. You'll just have to love her and leave the "heavy lifting" to professionals.
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Hi Tom, you DO need more help, and now. It sounds as if you have been a terrific loving husband, but there comes a time, when we just can't do it all. Trust me, there will be plenty of other things for you to do even if you have help daily. I went through several stage of care with a friend that had a terminal illness and no family and with my Mom who suffered from dementia for the last 2 years of her life. The caregiving requires more and more and the caregiver just seems to absorb the new tasks without realizing how much they are doing. Having more help can come in many forms. You have described what an aide can do as you have one come in weekly. How about a cleaning service to take that burden off of your shoulders? Depending upon where you live, there are all sorts of services available. One near me offers 'companion services'. Can you imagine what it would mean to you if someone trustworthy came in and stayed with your wife while you went and did food shopping? Get your hair cut? Run errands? And imagine your wife having a pleasant companion? You can explain that questions have to be simple. Go for it. Good luck
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Tom,
I am sorry to tell you, but the symptoms you are describing are late stage 6 dementia. My mother is currently in the same stage. With what is going on, with my mom, I have hired caregivers who come in every morning and care for her from when she awakes at 10am to 9pm at night, when they put her to bed. There are many amazing people out there who have what I can only describe as a "calling" to care for dementia/Alzheimer patients. We have been fortunate enough to have found over a dozen of them through a local caregiving company. From the perspective of being a woman, I really would not want my husband to care for me if I had dementia in terms of diapers or what not. I would prefer that my husband leave my personal care to professional caregivers and that my husband just be my husband, in as much as he could be what with me not having the ability to converse normally. For that reason, I recommend that you look into hiring caregivers to come in to care for your wife. Look for a company that specializes in at home memory care, The website of the company should state that their caregivers are specially trained in memory care or caring for Alzheimers/dementia patients. Usually these companies have a nurse who is responsible for filling medication boxes and checking on your wife on a routine basis. The nurse will oversee your wife's care. Then the caregivers come each day. They will help your wife get up and get dressed. They will bathe her and fix her hair. They will trim her nails and even paint them. They will do laundry, make breakfast and lunch and dinner and also do other light housekeeping chores. They will bring in the newspaper, take out the trash, even get the mail if you want them to. They also will spend lots of time giving your wife special attention. They will tailor activities to your wife's ability. Our caregivers are so devoted to my mother and my mother also loves them. I see her snuggle on the sofa with her caregivers for a nap very often. These caregiver are truly angels and worth their weight in gold.

You will still be your wife's caregiver, as you will oversee the in-home caregivers and make sure they follow your schedule. But you will be relieved of the burden of some of the care. I truly believe that if your wife could tell you and was in her right mind, this is what she would want for you AND for her.
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Talk to her doctor about ordering more frequent care. visiting nurses and aides are ordered by the MD. Also call your health insurance carrier for help. If you are a veteran, ask the VA about Aid and Attendance for your wife.
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