One night you’re watching a love story on television together. Suddenly he asks, “Where are they going? Are they going to crash?” At first, you wonder what he’s talking about. Then you realize that he doesn't know he’s looking at a commercial break, a Cadillac ad. He thinks the people in the story are in the car going somewhere, driving too fast.
He has mood swings. Sometimes he’s anxious and suspicious, other times he’s angry.
It’s Alzheimer’s, or “cognitive impairment” of some type. Say it hard or soft-pedal it, dementia is stealing your husband… and your happiness.
What can you do?
1. LOVE him. He can’t help what’s happening to him, and he loves you as much as ever. My Uncle Joe adored my Aunt Dot, his wife of fifty-six years. Sadly, he developed Alzheimer’s. I was there when he looked at her and said, “You’re a nice lady, but where’s Dot? I miss Dot!” You see, he still loved her… even when he didn’t recognize her anymore.
2. Although dementia is progressive, there are drugs that can slow his decline, calm his anxiety and quell his anger… so get him tested right away!
3. Be patient with him and don’t interrupt him. He may struggle, trying to remember words, to communicate with you. Look directly in his eyes and listen. Guess what he means, if you can. Do simple crossword puzzles with him, acting out the words. Charades is fun, and you’ll both end up laughing!
4. Don’t argue with him; it’s never helpful. Let him say whatever he wants without criticism. Try to look past his words and focus on his feelings. Frame the issue that’s upsetting him in a positive light… and HUG him. Soon he’ll smile… and so will you.
Time is a thief, so devote these days to simply being happy together. By all means, DO go gentle into his ‘goodnight’…