Bursack: Wife struggles to care for husband with early on-set Alzhiemers’sDear Carol: My husband developed Alzheimer’s disease at 46. I’ve cared for him on my own for three years, while also running the business we started years ago
By: Carol Bradley Bursack, INFORUM
Dear Carol: My husband developed Alzheimer’s disease at 46.I’ve cared for him on my own for three years, while also running the business we started years ago. My husband can’t be alone for long, so I frequently have to leave work to check on him. This is affecting my ability to do my work well.
I also don’t feel he gets much mental stimulation. I tried in-home care, but he didn’t like what he called the “babysitter.” I’m exhausted when I get home from work, since I need to get up very early to take care of his needs, and then at night he needs more care. I love my husband dearly and don’t want to feel like I’m giving up on him, but I can’t continue this way, either. What are my options? – Emma
Dear Emma: You’ve obviously reached a point where you and your husband need more help.
Understanding that fact and taking action doesn’t mean that you are giving up on him. You are just taking the next step in care so he can be safe and possibly have opportunities for social and mental stimulation.
Assisted living may be your best option. One good reason to look at assisted living is the opportunity for socialization, even if most of the residents are older than your husband. If the facility is a larger one, he may find others his age, as well. Either way, he’s likely to find that some of the folks are good company regardless of their age.
He’d have reliable meals and activities, so you wouldn’t have to tie your work to his many needs. Also, at any time, he could enter the stage where wandering off and getting lost is a danger, and in the right assisted living environment he would be safe from that threat.
Many facilities offer a gym. Most of them now have computers and even Wii game systems where people can bowl and play other competitive games solo or with other residents. Assisted living facilities also generally offer guided trips to malls, museums, concerts and other interesting places.
If your husband lives in a good assisted living center, you will be able to go home from work and regenerate yourself. With that in mind, you can visit your husband and be his companion rather than his constant caregiver.
You aren’t giving up caregiver status, but you can get help with much of the hands-on care and you won’t have to worry about his safety. If he needs medical management from a nursing professional, those services can generally be hired through the facility.
It’s time, Emma.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for your husband. He needs you to stay healthy, so this change is for both of you.
Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com.