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Spouse or Partner Caregiver Forum
Am I out of touch?
I am fortunate to have several friends who I can vent to. Today I was explaining a couple of recent incidents and one of my good friends surprised me by saying that my Dh is not capable of living at home and being managed any longer. She feels he is becoming too dangerous and needing to be watched too much. I think she is overstating the case. Am I not facing facts? I know he has to be monitored. I wanted to put a lock on the basement door, but I held off and decided to monitor him instead. I just hate to be the one who keeps taking away. They are already losing so much. He does have a fixation on the basement somewhat. He has repeatedly disconnected our cable and internet.
Dh has shown some signs his EOA is progressing. Two specific incidents this week along with the usual putting dirty dishes away, putting things in the wrong place, and various fixations.
First was the incident of the lightbulbs. I went to switch on the basement light and found it had blown out. Go to get alight bulb to replace it. Open the box of 4 new bulbs and find NO 60 watt bulbs, just a bunch of small night light sized bulbs, which appear to be burned out. Of course, Dh swore up and down he didn't take them. (I didn't accuse him. I know better.) I asked my kids b/c, there is always the chance they needed them. Nope. Well okay, so now no bulbs. For some reason I get the idea to check out the bulbs in the basement, and I find that ALL 4 basement lights have bulbs in them that have been unscrewed and are hanging on by a thread. So, Dh must have unscrewed them. I didn't even need the new bulbs in the first place. Later that night, Dh brings 3 light bulbs to me and asks if they are what I was looking for. He has no idea where he got them from. I have a feeling they came from his art studio. More than once I have had to 'fix' his lights in there. They were never broken. He had always done something weird like taken the power strip they were plugged into, unplugged it form the wall, and plugged it into itself. This is why my friend thinks he is dangerous. He does not understand electricity, but he still fools with things.
Second. Dh is an artist and he has a projector he has always used in our basement. He projects photographs onto his canvases and sketches out indicators of shapes, then brings the canvases upstairs to his studio to work on painting using photo references. Well, I saw him heading into the basement with a pile of paints. At first I thought he was taking old paints down to storage, but he told me he was going to paint down in the basement. Well, he would never paint in the basement ever and we had many discussions about why the basement would never be a place for his studio to be located. First, it does not have adequate ventilation and poses a health risk to us all b/c of the chemicals involved. Second, it is too dark and does not give an accurate reading of color and light. I tried to remind Dh about all of this and he just kept saying 'Well, how am I supposed to paint, then?" Apparently he was going to turn on the projector and try to paint the colors in according to what the projector showed--like paint by numbers. He got very angry with me and spent the rest of the day sulking. He does not seem to remember his process at all and is not capable of discussing his reasons for wanting to paint with this new method. I have no doubt that I will find him again with a pile of paints ready to go down to the basement and paint.
I am not sure yet how I am going to handle this. Have talked with several artist friends and they all say do not allow him to paint down there.
I think you are very fortunate to have friends whom will be honest with you. That is rare. I can't imagine how difficult it was for your friend to share what she did with you. She did so because she cares, not to upset you. She is not only thinking of how all of this affects you but also how your DH is affected.
Every household has some unsafe items - electricity being one of hundreds of things that can potentially harm our LO's. I don't think your out of touch, I just think your friend is seeing the 'big picture' and is concerned for you both. That is a true friend IMO.
I do not agree with you friends assessment. Your husband can live at home but not unsupervised. This is a step up from monitoring.
First thing I would do is to bring that projector upstairs. The painting is 100 times more valuable than you can imagine. The longer he keeps painting the better the journey is going to be. ART is big time!!!! Please google I Remember Better When I Paint. You will then understand.
I assume your husband is using oil paints? I happen to love that smell...lol
Please get back to me with your ideas about I Remember Better......
My husband was a woodworker. Had a workshop FULL of electric tools, saws, etc. It got to the point where if I couldn’t be there with him to supervise, he couldn’t safely use his tools, electric or hand tools or just plain old sandpaper! My point is, safety, his and yours, has to come first. Oil paints, and the chemicals required to clean the brushes, are flammable besides toxic if ingested. Is he willing to try acrylics or water color or oil pastel sticks or colored pencils? Maybe he can continue to create but using a different medium.
Regarding pouting. Yes that happens. Just have to get used to it. Safety first.
My husband passed away 18 months ago. I sold all his tools at auction. Cried the whole day but they went to good homes.
Caring4Two - it's so hard to sell or give away things that belonged to our husband - kind of feels like we're getting rid of them. I still have everything that belonged to Charles except a few pieces of clothing I gave to Todd and Jack. I remember when someone came to buy daddy's farming equipment even after he'd been gone ten years or more, I couldn't sell them. It took another three or four years before I could do it.
You're right, too, about ingesting things that aren't good for our loved ones. Charles would put the oddest things in his mouth - thing he'd never have thought of being his dementia - I had to hide away aerosol cans and everything that he might put in his mouth. They just don't realize what the things are and that they could be harmful. Better be safe than sorry.
it’s so hard to sell or give away things that belonged to our husband -kind of feels like we’re getting rid of them.
Yes it does. I had to force myself to remember that my husband was never attached to “things” like I was. Many of his big tools were my Christmas, anniversary, birthday, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day etc presents to him. I have to hang on on the memory and let go of the “thing”. Very hard to do. We were married 40 years.
I appreciate all of the responses, but after discussing with my kids I am realizing this is a very complicated problem.
1. For all those who suggest bringing the projector upstairs. (It is in the basement NOT the garage) It is HUGE. We are not talking about a piece of current technology. This is an ancient monster of days gone by made of metal weighing a ton. That is why it is in the basement. My house is too small to allow sufficient room for it upstairs.
2. Painting is not contingent upon the projector, or at least it shouldn't be. He spent many many years painting without a projector and only working from photos. Taking the projector away does not = taking painting away from him. I want him to continue painting. Though after reading responses, I am questioning how long he can continue to paint in oil b/c of the cleaning required. I wonder if he is capable of cleaning up properly and handling solvents properly even now. This is something I had not thought through before, though I should have. Too many things to think about.
3. Working with another medium. This is a good idea, except I think he will dig his heels in if I suggest it. He has always been primarily an oil painter and a fairly successful one, so this is not his casual hobby. His paintings have been in galleries up and down the east coast. They hung alongside Andrew Wyeth's paintings in the same gallery (though not commanding the same prices, obviously). Oil is 'his' medium. He will resist anything else, 1. b/c I suggested it and he automatically resists anything I suggest. 2. b/c oil is what he is known for. However, I think I CAN get him to make a foray into watercolor or acrylic if I make it a father daughter thing and say I want him to 'teach' our daughter. But I need to have everything set up myself first b/c he is not going to remember how to teach anything.
Another facet to this, both kids think he has no idea what he is doing. They think he does not even fully remember his process. They think he is fixated on the projector and once he starts putting photos on it he can't stop. They think he has no ability to move on to the next step and actually do any painting. I carefully watched him all day yesterday. He brought his canvas upstairs with the outlines sketched in and I thought, "Good. He will paint now and that will be the end of it." NO. An hour later while I was down there doing laundry he comes down and is fiddling with the projector again. Like a fool I tried asking him questions to see why he needed the projector. He could not answer any of my questions, of course. The real kicker was when he ask ME why I am obsessed with the projector! So, at this point, I am not sure if my kids are right (I think maybe they are.) OR if he is unable to communicate to me what he is doing with the projector.
None of this is normal for him. 10 years ago he would be upstairs working on that painting he sketched out. No more projector until the next project.
Kids and I are agreed we are going to put a lock on the basement door later today when Ds gets done work. I am still not sure what to do about the projector. I guess maybe I will just ask him daily if he needs to use it and then lock it up when I decide enough is enough. Not sure what else I can do.
I hate this disease.
Thank you. I will take a look at these.