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Emotional intimacy tips
Ozarkian
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 6:14 PM
Joined: 11/25/2017
Posts: 6


My DW is in her early 50’s and has mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to a brain tumor that was successfully treated through surgery several years ago.  Her short term memory is extremely poor.  For example she will often bring up the same question or discussion topic more than once in an evening.  She often does not recall important relationship discussions or the outcome of joint decisions the next day.  We both recognize this is taking a toll on our emotional intimacy as a couple but are finding it very challenging to deal with.  Can anyone offer some tips and/or approaches that you have found to be beneficial?

Juan


Army_Vet60
Posted: Monday, July 15, 2019 7:03 PM
Joined: 6/21/2019
Posts: 334


Your wife is early 50s.

What's the age difference between you two?


Ozarkian
Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 1:04 AM
Joined: 11/25/2017
Posts: 6


I’m 2 years older.
Army_Vet60
Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 6:08 AM
Joined: 6/21/2019
Posts: 334


Has Dementia/Alzheimer's been ruled out?

 If her impairment isn't progressive, maybe you could consult with her PCP to see if there is some kind of Specialist therapy available to help her with memory recall.

You might both also benefit from talking to a marriage counselor. 

 She's coping with an impaired memory, and you're coping with frustration.

 

 

 

 


Ozarkian
Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 7:44 AM
Joined: 11/25/2017
Posts: 6


Dementia/Alzheimer's has not been ruled out.  She received her first MCI diagnosis about 3yrs ago (6mon after surgery) and her second about 14mon ago.  Neither of them went over well with her, but the second blew a real rift in our relationship because she blamed me for “making her go be humiliated”.  She has gotten worse over that time.  She has finally just started cognitive rehab, so I’m hopeful that will help.  We are in couples counseling and both of us are in individual counseling.  My counselor suggested I reach out to this community as MCI has so many relationship impacts as Dementia/Alzheimer's, and as you have picked up we may already be headed down that path.
Crushed
Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 8:40 AM
Joined: 2/2/2014
Posts: 4553


I am just going to say that YOU have to survive.  If for no other reason than that she needs you, emotional intimacy or not. 

This  disease is weird and unpredictable.

when you say mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to a brain tumor that was successfully treated through surgery several years ago.

I am certainly AWARE of the possible connection

https://braintumor.org/brain-tumor-information/consequences/

But it is also possible she has primary dementia(as your post states)

This is actually an area where neuropsychology people can help.  Ask for advice on what to look for to make a caretaker report.  Tell them their is conscious resitance to formal testing 

What is her employment history .  is she eligible for SSDI  DO NOT WAIT ON THIS

 


Sea Field
Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 8:44 AM
Joined: 8/5/2012
Posts: 1868


Juan,  I am glad you reached out, there is a great wealth of information and support here.

I am now widowed, but took care of my husband for 8.5 years after a traumatic brain injury left him both immediately impaired and also triggered a progressive alzheimer like dementia.  I cared for him at home all the way through.  At the time, I was in my 50s.

Some of the things that helped me with the repetitive questions were:

1 - the awareness that his brain was broken.  That any changes in our circumstances and relationship interactions had to come from me.  He didn't have the cognitive abilities to problem solve or remember.

2- I received some great advice early on to answer each question as if it were the first time it was asked.  Because for someone who cannot retain the answer, it is.   It was easier if I kept my answers short as I would likely be repeating it several times.  I also found myself modifying the answer to one that could be more easily received by my husband.

3- I realized there was underlying anxiety that was often a part of the repeated questions.  He knew he couldn't retain the information and that made him anxious and depressed.  So yes, I answered the questions but I also tried to address the anxiety with lots of reassurances.  I often told my husband  "That's ok, we will figure this out together.  I can remember this so we got it covered.  I got your back sweetheart." Or some variation of that.

4-If a therapuetic fiblet would help alleviate his underlying anxiety and thus the repeated questions, I would go ahead and offer one.  Never to deceive, but only out of love knowing he did not have the abilities to understand and work his way through what was bothering him so why not be merciful and help him let it go.

5- In the mid/later stages I often thought he kept asking a question simply to keep the communication going between us.  It was his avenue to keep in touch.

6-Hopefully you have other family members or friends that you can have more in depth conversations with as your wife may no longer be able to provide that.  

Having a loved one with cognitive impairment is often more than challenging.  It helps to be as flexible and creative as you can.  I wish you the best as you navigate your way through.

Cynthia

 

 

 


Ozarkian
Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 9:56 AM
Joined: 11/25/2017
Posts: 6


I believe she will be retested as she starts cognitive rehab (since it has been over a year). We have both a neurooncologyst and neuropsychologists on the team.  She worked for 20 years in computer science so should qualify for SSDI if we get to that point.
Ozarkian
Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 10:10 AM
Joined: 11/25/2017
Posts: 6


Thank you so much Cynthia.  I’ve used some of these but others are new.   I’m really struggling now with the collapse of her self esteem and confidence.  I work to build her up and encourage her but she sees it as controlling.   We are both Christians and our faith is becoming stronger and is being greatly tested in all of this.  We both have Christian friends that are supporting us individually, and I’m considering finding a couple to do the same for us together.
Army_Vet60
Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 10:18 AM
Joined: 6/21/2019
Posts: 334


Ok, if she DOES have Dementia/ALZ, it is a Progressive condition, and she probably will stop asking the repetitive questions or repeat topics of conversation.
 
But that is NOT good news.
 
If you stay with your wife and she's a PWD, you'll need to get educated quickly on the type of Dementia/ALZ she has, the symptoms she will be prone to exhibit, and the 7 Stages of Alzheimer's.
 
If she doesn't have this condition, and you only have repetitive questions/ conversations to look forward to, consider yourself lucky, Seriously.
 
 
 Ozarkian wrote:
Dementia/Alzheimer's has not been ruled out.