Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spouse with Alzheimers

Joan is a new friend. She has an amazing blog that is suited for spouses of Alzheimer’s sufferers. Recently I read the following post and thought to share it with you. Please feel free to go find and read her post, and don’t forget for your caregiving needs, and please sign-up for the free newsletter while you are there (you get a very valuable gift when you do!)


For those of you who are not aware, my husband has been refusing to take his second daily dose of the anti-rage medication, Risperdal. He was taking the morning pill, but absolutely refused to take the afternoon pill, because he “didn’t need it”. Before you start scolding me that I should have resorted to a variety of deceptive practices to have made sure it entered his body without him knowing it, you must understand his level of functioning. His problems are behavior, impulse control, anger, memory, language comprehension, and processing. He is fully aware of what is going on around him, knows every pill he takes, and would taste the difference if it were crushed up in his food. The repercussions of such deception would irreparably damage whatever peace had been achieved from the medication. Every doctor and social worker agreed – there is no way to get a pill into him if he refuses to take it.

Needless to say, the situation has been deteriorating steadily here since the elimination of that second pill. I could see the anger building; it was just a matter of time, and Tuesday was the day. I suppose I should have been grateful that he woke up refusing to speak to me rather than screaming at me. (No need to wonder why he was angry – it is ALWAYS the same – I destroyed his life, stole his freedom, made him a prisoner in his own home, by taking away his driving. He will never accept it and never forgive me. Period.) By the time we got to our support group meeting, the rage was so apparent on his face that those who know him well, and those who barely know him, remarked to me about it.

If I were in the mood to find humor in this situation, and I am not, I suppose it would almost be funny to say that he has now earned the undistinguished honor of being the worst, most stubborn, impossible to deal with “driving issue case” ever seen by every social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist, and doctor who has tried to deal with him. I have actually had two psychologists throw up their hands and say that there is nothing they can do for him. He is undealable ( I know that’s not a word – I made it up because it seems appropriate to the situation). The only option is to get him on the medication and keep him on it. Catch-22. He won’t take it and no one can make him take it.

What do you do when no professional can handle your situation? You handle it yourself. I spent 25 years dealing with brain damaged, psychotic, violent children, adolescents, and adults. I dusted off my therapist hat, locked my emotions in the closet, and spent 2 ½ hours dealing with the situation. In the end, he agreed to take the second pill, and I agreed to put his “travel” needs ahead of my work, and take him where he wants to go when he wants to go. My end of the bargain is irrelevant, because he will not be satisfied being “carted around by his wife”, as he calls it, but my hope is that the medication will once again smooth him out enough that we can both function at some level of peace.

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