Dec 28, 2011

A Note From Our Reader Kayfrahm

No matter what, do not give up. Find the entrance to Alzheimer's World and change the dynamic.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Under the article, Why is this happening? What can I do?, we received the following comment from Kayfrahm:

I feel as if my husband ruins my days with his angry outbursts.

I do know it is me that needs to change but .... I react with anger and resentment. He can say the most hurtful things and still is great at hitting my most painful buttons.

At this time I am his only caregiver and is unexcepting of a anyone but me. This, at times, feels like more than I can take. Your advice has been wonderful for me, and I thank you for your wonderful work.

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Dear Kay,

I know how you might be feeling. I experienced my mother's anger and harshness for several years. As I have written many times, she was meaner than a "junkyard dog".

Dotty said some things to me that she had never said before, mean words. Some were so mean that I have never repeated them to anyone. I just don't want to put Dotty in a bad light.

I can remember, and I won't ever forget, sitting in my chair with a sore stomach and sad heart. This continued for years.

Like most, I tried to reason with Dotty and sometimes even discuss what she had said. This only made things worse. That was an early difficult lesson I had to learn.

At times, like you, I did get angry. This made things worse.

I tried silence and ignoring her words. This didn't work.

I tried to will her back with a completely positive approach and positive reinforcement. It took a long time and the introduction of a long list of ideas before I finally brought Dotty "back around".

One thing I can say, I never gave up. I believed in my heart and in my soul that I could change the dynamic.

You might be feeling crazy when your husband treats you so "poorly". It is hard to understand why a person who is totally reliant on you, who can't stand the idea of having you out of his sight for any extended period of time, could be so mean to you.

This is how Alzheimer's works. And this can be a part, of Alzheimer's World.

I want to suggest that you start paying very close attention to what your husband is saying when he is angry. Rather than getting angry, is there anyway you can reassure him?

For example, Dotty would tell me to get out, that she didn't need me. At first I told her yes she did. Finally, I discovered that I needed to reassure her. So even thought she was mad and angry I would put my arm around her and tell her, I am not going anywhere. Later I added that it was the two of us together, and I was not going anywhere. It started working after a while.

I decided that most of Dotty's harshness was a result of fear, anxiety, and insecurity. So I tried to assure her that she was safe and secure. All day long, and every day.

I am not sure if your husband has a lot of alone time, or if he is sitting around doing nothing or watching television for long periods of time.

It is really imperative to keep Alzheimer's patients engaged in doing things, doing something. Obviously, you can't do things with him all day. Memory day care centers are a good option. I don't know if this is an option. Day care works. I can already hear you saying, he won't go. Yes he will.

If that is not an option you need to get him to do something he might enjoy. Crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, or even talking to a repeat parrot like Harvey. Harvey is my personal day care assistant.

You need to make sure that your husband is getting lots of bright light. Open the curtains or drapes, seat him next to the windows, go outside, or use a place like Walmart or Target for bright light excursions.

Little trips for a coffee or ice cream are good.

If possible get as many people as you can to call him on the telephone.

Your goal is to create an active day, and a safe, secure environment. Try meeting harshness with reassurance. Over and over.

No matter what, do not give up. Find the entrance to Alzheimer's World and change the dynamic.

Please understand this. If you keep on doing what you are doing, things might never change. On the other hand, if you change the dynamic and create a routine things might very well change.

Try and create a routine where every day is like the day before. Sameness works. Try to break your day up into 90-120 minute periods at first. This way you can build your routine one building block at a time.

If you have additional questions or information let me know.

You can do it and I know you will. How do I know?

You already revealed yourself, you are already on the way.

More Insight and Advice for Caregivers

Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 3,261 articles with more than 402,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room