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Alzheimer's and Caregiver burnout

By January 23, 2011 - 11:20am

I am 70 and my husband, Hartmann, is 93 my parents introduced me to him when I was 18.5 and we were married when I was 23.5, so a 47 yr marriage. I worked and he has been retired since early 1990 and was the houseman, drove until he was 90. Diagnosed with dementia about 13 yrs ago and put on Aricept, 5 mg. I was laid off Oct. 09, so we started spending much more time together, and I noticed so many things that I had not been aware of: the compulsive things. He has repeated questions and statements for years, sometimes he would know the place but couldn't remember people's names. He loved ice cream, candy and cookies, ate well but getting him to drink water was an issue. His balance was so/so, but he was completely able to care for himself, dressed, showered, fixed TV dinners or leftovers in the microwave (I disconnected the stove, for fear he might not turn it off and start fire, etc)., watched TV and read the newspaper. Then the worst happened: Sept 5 he fell in the kitchen and broke his wrist in 3 places! Took him to ER, then they did surgery the next day, PUT IN catheter! Hartmann was more confused after the surgery, I stayed with him 24/7. He hospital and doctor said he needed to go to rehab, so Sept 9 went to top rated rehab, however, when they attempted to take out the catheter he was not able to void!!!! I stayed the first 3 days 24/7 with him, but the burnout setin and they sent me home. I would come back each day and spend say 4 to 6 hrs until he was discharged Nov. 16. They rehab doctor and staff suggested that Hartmann needed to be placed in a care facility where he could have more attention that I could provide (I am a 5 yr breast cancer survivor, with asthma and Secondary Lymphedema). I was able to find a 4 person Adult Foster Care Home 3 miles from the house, lovely woman, great good and so clean. I have a friend who helps me take Hartmann for his monthly doctor appointments, to the urologist and this week he had Transurethral Needle Ablation of the Prostrate in the hospital and we spent the nite (I slept in the chair). They hope to get him off the catheter in maybe couple of months. The visiting nurse comes every Monday and they have decided that Hartmann now has Alzheimer's. My Father had Alzheimer's so I have been down the path 25 yrs ago, but this seems even tougher, maybe it is my age, too. I have become very depressed, wake up crying for no in the middle of the nite...find it hard to make decisions and just not me. I was having female issues so went to GYN and one of the tests was to check my Vit. D level, it is very very low which can be a major part of the problem. This week I am going to start part time (10 hrs week) job working for someone who I adore and she has been one of my mentors and helpers these last few years. I know the worst is yet to come, he has started calling me MOTHER, that I guess is the hardest is to lose the ability to communicate with your loved one. The aloneness, not being able to share memories, good or bad! The lady who owns the home and the visiting nurse have asked that I spend less time with him so he ajusts and for me to rest...There are several good things, I have supportive friends, Hartmann and I both are and were raised Christians, so death is not scary, but the knowing that it only gets worst that there is no cure! I hope I can be of help to someone else and I thank you for this forum. Princeline

By November 21, 2013 - 6:16am

Hi Princeline,

your story just made me cry, you're such a courageous woman and I truly admire your strength. I'm 27 and we just found out that my dad has Alzheimer's (he's 57) and I'm trying to find out as much as possible about Alzheimer's online, desperately trying to find anything that can help him, to find out that there's no cure. I have to admit that I didn't known too much about the disease before this happened and finding out that there's no cure broke me emotionally. I'm sorry, but I just needed to tell someone how I feel. I know it's not even close to your problems, but your story and strength touched me deeply. Thank you for sharing and I want to thank for this forum too.

Wish you all the best,


November 21, 2013 - 6:16am
By HERWriter Guide January 28, 2011 - 10:04am

Hi Princeline

Thanks for sharing your story. I can only imagine the stress that you're under, both physically and emotionally. I think it's great that you're going back to work 10 hours a week - it'll do you the world of good!

I know I talked to before about getting into a support group; have you been able to do that?

I hope to talk to you soon!

January 28, 2011 - 10:04am

Group Leader

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This support group is for all who need someone to listen to their frustrations, fears, and concerns when dealing with a spouse who has been diagnosed with a dementia. And for those of us who need someone to laugh with and cry with too. We all need to feel like someone out there can relate to our situation. We all need to share our highs and lows with someone who's been there and those who are still there trying to hang in there for our "best friend" our spouse.




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