My husband was diagnosed with vascular dementia about three years ago although I knew something was wrong long before that. I am struggling with his constant repetition of stories that I have heard over and over again as well as "you know that I love you, don't you?" Which of course demands a response of "yes dear, I know" or some such thing. I hate to complain about something as loving as being told you are loved, but every 5 minutes drives me absolutely batty. He also hums contantly. Anyone else out there had this experience?
I am finally scheduled to attend a support group in my community. I haven't been able to get him to go to a group for those with dementia while I attend one for caregivers at the same time. So I am going on my own.
BTG... we have to pick the battles and decide what is worthy of making us batty. Yes, repeated stories can be an annoyance but it is sure better than some of the other antics that could happen. At this point in my mom's journey I wish she COULD tell me one of those stories over and over again.
As for the I love you My Dad did that. He would tell one of his war stories or farm stories from his childhood and each paragraph was punctuated with "You know I love you?" I saw it as his needing to reaffirm what he couldn't remember he had just said. He had no idea that he had just said it. But he felt it constantly so he ask the same question over and over. It just showed how much he cared for Mom.... and his girls who he also did it to.
There's nothing you can do to stop it. Since he can't remember he has just done it he will continue to do it. Just nod and smile and remember how charming it was the first time you heard it.
As for the support group meeting... yes you do need to go. As for him not agreeing to go. Sometimes you just have to go yourself or take him without making a big deal of it. When there was somewhere Dad needed to go we didn't tell him or attempt to get his agreement. He would ALWAYS say NO! We just got ready and told him to come on. After he got in the van, he might ask where we were going. Most times he enjoyed where we ended up but if ask before hand he would refuse to go. So we learned to was better to not expect him to understand and agree and remember.
The humming would drive me to distraction, but the "I love you," I think I would just keep answering, "I love you, too." It can be annoying to hear the same thing over and over, but like Deb said, it could be a whole lot worse. He could be combative or aggressive for no reason. He could be argumentative, or just plain contrary. Some people with dementia get like that. When he gets under your skin, you've gotta just put on a plastic smile and do the bobblehead thing: smile and nod. My MIL gets like that, just the same thing over and over and over. She can't tell a real smile from a fake one, and facial expression means more to her than words do, so we just keep it up. She at least knows she's loved, even when we're at our wit's end.
I still remember the exact words my dear MIL would say over and over ... I'm a tellin' you right now, we're so blessed that the Good Lord brought us here so that we could all be together ... we had moved them to the town where we lived so we could care for them and she was still physically fine, but mentally the Alzheimers was taking hold and she often couldn't string her thoughts together or find the right word, but she always remembered that phrase, and boy did she make good use of it ! : ) She was saying it up to the day she had a massive stroke right in front of us, and she spoke very little after that, and not at all now ... so the day will come when you'll fondly remember those sweet words being spoken so often, and it won't drive you batty : )
Humming and repetition, as annoying as they may be, are minor irritations when you consider some of the other manifestations of Dementia which may come later. I wish my Mom had been humming or telling the old stories again and again instead of making #2 on the bathroom floor and walking it all over the house. I wish she had been talking instead of setting the kitchen on fire (maybe she was doing both) or wandering off for 8 hours in NY City, whereabouts unknown to this day. My friend wishes her mother in law had only been humming, not striking out and hitting her little girls, hard!
Be thankful it is mild annoyance, so far. It will not drive you crazy. You can learn to ignore it or sing along with him or nod and say 'how interesting' the 55th time the same story is told.
Thank you for your perspective. I need to hear that it could be so much worse. In my head I know he doesn't realize he repeats the same thing over and over again but the reality is that I reach a breaking point sometimes and just want him to stop! I turn into a witch now and then. BTG
I love the "bobblehead" idea. I'll try it. I do repeat "I love you too" but I guess I get tired of the repetition. I need to say it more often to him first. I suppose I have forgotten how much I loved him before this scourge attacked. He just isn't the same person.
Just reading the suggestions from everyone makes me smile and that helps end the evening on a good note. BTG
Yes, I will miss him. I think about that alot. About the day coming when I will want to hear those words. I never thought about his repetion of stories being a result of not being able to really converse normally. That back and forth talk that is so important. When I talk to him about my day sometimes, a meeting I had, or lunch with a friend, he starts to listen and then suddenly will change the subject and say what a beautiful yard we have and look out the window. That tells me he isn't really "getting it" anymore.
I needed to hear that it could be so much worse. I know that in my heart and head but its just such a challenge. I hope I'm up to it. At this point he is still so sweet, loving and gentle....just repetitive. He has stopped doing much of anything around the house, He just sits and stares outside or reads the paper and falls asleep. I have lost my partner in just about everything. I am taking care of a child again. But you are right....I need to county my blessings. I am not taking care of him in a mobile home and we have enough food to eat.
It is difficult sometimes Bonnie... especially when you are sitting there wishing for something more and getting the same repetition over and over. If you are like me it is not the repetition that is the annoyance but the lack of ability to carry on other conversation. I found it beneficial to try to stay in the moment with my loved ones. Rather than wishing for what can not be... I try to celebrate what is.
Yes, you are lucky that he is a calm sweet caring man even in the dementia. I do hope it remains that way for him, and for you. Keep talking to him. He might not get all that you say but he will pick up on your non verbal emotional cues. And stay in the moment with him Keep it simple....
This is a great place to just blow off steam and know that there are others that truly get it. We are all on this journey together!
Bonnie, My wife also did the repetitive thing. And, yes, It does drive you nuts sometimes!
She would watch the same movie over and over and over. Or get up 10 times in a row to go to get something to drink. But, like your husband, she was very sweet. And her personality never changed - thank goodness. I've heard the horror stories about the ones who get violent, etc.
Strange how we can feel blessed by something so awful.
Yes, each day is a new one for him. Actually each 5 minutes. If there is a benefit of memory loss it is that when I blow off too much steam at him....he forgets that I was frustrated with him. Sometimes I want to stay mad...like when he drinks too much wine, but the next day...poof..its a new day and I can't do anything but start over too.
At least I can still leave him alone at home and go out by myself now and then. I keep praying that I will still be able do that. I go to an excercise class three times a week that I would just hate to stop. I volunteer one afternoon a week at my church office (I could bring him with me there), I have lunch and dinner with a few groups once a month, a book club and investment club. I am still able to be active for myself. I feel badly that he has nothing to do. He does go to lunch now and then with two old friends God Bless them.
Whew...as you say, what a journey. I do keep a journal but I haven't written in it for awhile. I need to do that. It does helptoo.
Yes, I need to look at the bright side. I am still able to care for him at home with little difficulty. I have always pretty much taken care of everything household wise so that hasn't been a problem. I understand that I am fortunate that way. Some wives know nothing about the finances and scramble to figure things out.
My husband was a very busy physician who was always working. He worked until he was 83 but should have stopped sooner. I knew the day would come when someone would have to tell him he had to stop. It was devastating to him. He couldn't figure out what he had done. Thank God he never did anything awful to a patient but he just wasn't up to par and patients were complaining they didn't want to see the "old guy".
His ego is very fragile now. He goes back to telling me he was in the top 3% of his graduating class in med school, president of the local medical society, VP of the state, WWII Navy pilot and on and on. All of that is true and he looks for validation that he was once very smart and capable. Now he says he is stupid. My answer is "not stupid, just forgetful."
Absolutely keep up your exercise class as much as you can. Being able to go to the gym kept me (somewhat) sane. EVen when he can no longer be left alone, you need to have someone who can step in for a couple of hours several times a week to let you go out to your class or whatever - for a sanity break.
The worst thing is to feel that you are becoming a prisoner in your own home. Please don't let that happen. Start making arrangements now so you can keep some sort of a life for yourself. If not, dementia will take over your entire life. Regular breaks will become crucial for you.
Glad that he has friends who are staying in contact and helping you out. I don't think they really understand that they don't have anything to do, so don't feel guilty.
And don't worry about the frustration and anger. Been there, done that! It really doesn't register with them... for long, anyway.
Hang in there, it doesn't last forever. and there is a life after dementia.