I was the primary care-provider for my husband of 62 years who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
He had been experiencing memory problems prior to a nine-day hospital stay which included abdominal surgery and a long list of medications. His memory declined after the hospital stay and never recovered – that was four years ago and declined markedly the last six months.
This once energetic, smart, funny man had been reduced to a forgetful, unconfident, sometimes ornery shadow of his former self.
Over the four years, I read online discussion boards, had strong family help and support, and did everything I could to keep him safe, to work with his limitations, and to not take his insults personally.
More than once, I thought, “I just can’t do this any longer,” but somewhere, somehow, I found the wherewithal to go on awhile longer. I tried to hire an in-home care provider, but he would not allow that to be successful. I visited memory care facilities, but I hated to do that and they were expensive. So, we struggled on.
Two months ago, I could no longer find that wherewithal any longer and made the hardest decision of my life – to find a new “home” for him.
We found a lovely care home with six residents one of whom had Alzheimer’s disease. He was there less than 24 hours and they asked him to leave – he tried to climb a fence, he walked off, and was totally disruptive. They couldn’t handle him. We were back to square one!
My daughter and son-in-law offered to let him stay with them. The plan was that I would spend part of the time there and part of the time at home to give me a break. It took the three of us watching him 24/7 to keep him safe and under control. He was rude, argumentative, and difficult. We quickly decided this would not be a workable option.
I then found a memory care facility and we took him there a few weeks ago. He was given stronger medication, he seems to be adjusting, and life has been relatively quiet. I certainly don’t miss the constant chaos he created, but I do miss hearing his voice and seeing him – he was my touch stone/ my rock.
All in all, it was the right decision. I can look myself in the mirror and know I did everything possible to keep him home and care for him as long as possible. But it is a loss that I may never get over.