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Spouse or Partner Caregiver Forum
Transition from nagging wife to parent
When do I make the transition from nagging wife to parent?
My husband was diagnosed with MCI last year. Changes to his short-term memory have been slight. Sometimes I think he is better. Other times I think not. (He is on Aricept —not that I think that is helping.) One thing I am noticing is that he showers every three to four days. That is also when he brushes his teeth. I feel if I do say anything to him (remind him), I would be parenting him. I don’t know how he will react to that. I feel like I am walking on eggshells, and I don’t know what to do....
It's not a bright line. You make the transition in baby steps. In this case, the inadequate dental care is a health problem and needs to be dealt with. I handle things like this by pretending there is nothing unusual in one adult telling another to brush her teeth.
The motto of the U. S. Army officer's corps is "Follow me." You don't send your LO to the sink, you lead him. What I do is brush my teeth as part of getting ready for bed and remind her to do the same as if it was the most ordinary thing in the world for a couple to do together. Same with taking meds, fastening seat belts, etc.
Showering together can be fun too
This is where I was one year ago. I began to regularly prompt the shower and teeth brushing, then everyday.
Then I remarked that the towel had marron spots or were smelling and I decided I must check everything in the shower. Indeed he was only washing his hands !
Now I supervise the shower and give instructions... And it's difficult. Wash you neck... he washes his belly ! Where is your neck ? He shows me his belly and if I answer no, he shows me another part of his body.
I never tried to discuss the necessity of supervising but did it directly without asking permission. It worked, but my partner is easy. The caregiver and his sister in law could also begin to supervise the shower easily.
Why use perjorative words like "nagging wife" and "parent"???
A caretaker as such is neither.
(I was certainly still making love with DW when she was not allowed to carry money or credit cards or her own ticket and passport) We were spouses but I was in charge of all financial and outside activities etc.
Just don't use those words or thoughtsCaretaking is a matrix and you move from simple to intensive to total in a variety of areas.
While oral hygiene should be taken care
of daily, bathing need not be. For most people, bathing every three to four
days is adequate. In all things, pick your battles wisely; some are more
important than others.
Crushed - How about YOU "just" don't tell people what words to use or what to think?
When a person reaches out on this board they are not looking to be criticized for what they ask, how they ask, what words they use, etc. They are hurting and looking for support, advice, or a kind word. They are NEVER looking for judgement.
I was giving support by suggesting reframing the issue . they were suggesting a choice between two awful concepts. I was supporting by saying that was the the choice
IMHO functioning in alzheimer's is not an on/off switch Its a set of dimmer switches and a lot of circuits.
I totally get the wife to parent. My husband will shower but has to be reminded. I also have to go over the heat/air conditioning thing with him daily. We have had a temperate June so no need for the ac. However he will put it on because he is hot. When it gets cooler, then he puts the heat on. This is while I am working, so it gets crazy fast.
I make his meals and he will forget he has eaten and start eating over and over. I have to keep the food hidden and remind him he has eaten already.
Life has really changed, honestly now I let him fiddle about with the air and heat because it makes him happy. I am sad, but it is just me and him. I find our cats are comforting. Thank God for this forum.
I'm sad too, Bugsroo.
I don't consider my wife and me married any more because we aren't equals any more. We don't take care of each other, I take care of her, with very limited exceptions.
Heard Johnny Cash on the '50s station yesterday. "I don't like it but I guess things happen that way" was the refrain. Yep.
Goodbye Little Darlin Goodbye:
You ask me if I'll forget my baby I guess I will someday
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way
You ask me if I'll get along I guess I will someway
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.
God gave me that girl to lean on and then he put me on my own
Heaven help me be a man and have the strength to stand alone
You ask me if I'll miss her kisses I guess I will every day
You ask me if I'll find another I don't know I can't say
I grew up in Nashville....country music in the blood
I grew up in Springfield, Missouri and one of my uncles played guitar on the Ozarks Country Jubilee, so I'm a little bit country too. Some of it's sad, some of it's funny, and some of it's just singing about love, infidelity, and drinking to forget. About life, in other words.
Remember "Hank Williams you wrote my life?" Jeff Foxworthy wrote mine.
My wife and I were never "equals". She was far smarter, made more money and could not cook a lick . What we were was "partners" When we got the rental car on our honeymoon in 1975 I tossed her the keys and said "you drive, I'll navigate". I was her caretaker for 5 1/2 years but we were still marital partners. That partnership continued until she had been in memory care for a year. YMMV
Hi Stuck in the Middle,
I understand what you are saying. I look at my husband like a child.
Sometimes I have flashbacks to when we were happy, laughing because he made me laugh so hard I was crying. I get extremely sad and often the tears fall.
I have to distance myself because if I don’t, I can’t handle it.
I have learned now to just go along with things, be flexible as it were. I notice there is less argy bargy than before. That doesn’t mean I am ok, just have learned how things must go on.
I wish you the best, thank heavens for this forum. I feel like you all get me.
I am going to give an analogy. When I was a young professor I studied the work of economist Kelvin Lancaster. He revolutionized demand theory by pointing out that there was no demand for "objects" but instead there was a demand for the characteristics of objects. He used shirts as his example . There is no consumer demand for shirts as such , there is a demand for the "characteristics of shirtness" Size, fit , color, material, shape, long sleve short sleve , no sleve etc. My expansion on his work using matrices is what got me promoted to Associate Professor. I apply the same analysis here to concepts like "spouse" and "child" They are not simple concepts but matrices. they each have a large set of characteristics which we "lump together" just like shirts.
But while for consumers "lumping" is needed to buy products in humans it may have no function. My marriage was not your marriage. My parent child relationship was not yours.
In such a case the lumping terms get in the way of communication. Competence for example is an area where the law demands a matrix analysis it's not an on off switch. EG you can consent to sex even if you can't sign a contract. A person with dementia is a person with dementia. Like all persons they have a matrix of characteristics. The fact that they share some characteristics with children does not make them children. The words we use matter, that's all.
I never felt that what I did was "parenting". I never felt that my husband was childlike. He was sick and I helped him. I did that, with help, until he died.
Nagging???? Well if repeating something over and over is the definition then I guess I really never stopped...maybe did more of it as the illness progressed until there was no point.
I will agree that caretaker is a better term than "parent." Parents are caretakers, if they do the job, but some caretakers are not parents.
"Nagging" is constantly harassing someone to do something. Parents do it, other caretakers do it, and supervisors do it; it's part of the job. The term "nagging spouse" is pejorative because it is typically meant as a person who nags to get their own way at the expense of the other spouse.
The real issue in this thread, I think, is when is it appropriate to supervise a spouse's conduct? My answer is that it is appropriate when the spouse is no longer able to choose in their own best interest. I remind my wife to take her meds, and watch until she does it. That would have been an insult ten years ago, but now she needs it to stay alive.