My husband has been a challenge to me. He has dementia (since 1998), but the cause has not been identified by doctors yet. He seems to be depressed and takes medication for this, yet his depression symptoms are getting worse. He wants to lie in bed and/or sleep day and night. He does not want to shower, shave, or engage in any type of activity. He just wants to retreat to our bedroom to sleep or rest. If we leave the house, he does not try to be sociable, even with relatives. He just wants to go home and return to our bedroom. He will not listen to my suggestions and the doctors offer little help. Thus, I feel frustrated.
These are the sentiments of one of my clients.
The challenge is two-fold. One is finding the correct diagnosis and treatment for her husband; The second is for this wife to gain peace and quality of life.
I have always been a believer that health (both mental and physical) is one of the highest priorities in life. In this case the first urgency is to understand the cause of the dementia. The second is finding correct treatment for the depression and to get him into a normal wake/sleep routine that stimulates him through physical exercise and mental activities. If one doctor does not have the answer, continue making appointments with specialists until the problem is diagnosed and the treatable symptoms are resolved. As you go from one specialist to another and research the problem take information you gather. This way doctors can view more of the patient’s total condition. I have also found that dementia seminars, live and on television are very informative. You might find someone else who has similar symptoms. The Alzheimer’s 24/7 hotline (1 (800)-272-3900) is also very helpful.
The condition of the husband contributes to the wife’s set of problems. First and foremost, she must have the fortitude to continue researching and going to doctors until one can correctly diagnosis the cause of his dementia and successfully treat his reclusiveness. The second is for her to form and depend on a strong support system. The support system can be comprised of her own doctor, the Alzheimer’s association, family, friends, neighbors, church family, professional support groups and professional caregivers. She needs to know each supportive person well and ask for the help that would be most natural for the advocate. Some might be good listeners, others might offer suggestions and resources. Some might replace her caregiving duties while others take her out for a fun-filled afternoon. Some might be able to help monetarily while others take her away for a quick vacation.
We tend to try and solve our own problems. Problems of this nature are too big to resolve alone. People like to help if they are asked for something they feel comfortable giving.