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Spouse or Partner Caregiver Forum
Things to consider putting away for safety
As those of you who have followed our journey know, my husband got very aggressive and paranoid toward the end. Things you might never consider he carried around as a weapon, and since he often had delusions concerning me being a stranger, these weapons could have been used on me. He one time had scissors in his belt. He often put screwdrivers in his pockets. I am still uncovering screwdrivers hidden throughout the house. My daughter, who is a therapist, told me to lock up all the knives. There was a hammer in his dresser drawer next to his bed. Not every AD patient has aggression or paranoia issues, but you never know when it will happen. My husband could be sitting next to me holding my hand. Then he might get up and come back and order me out of the house.
Certainly there are things that automatically come to mind to put away. Guns, knives, hammers, meat cleavers, etc. come to mind easily. But there are so many things that can be used as a weapon, I don't think it's possible to get rid of them all. Best thing we can do is really think about what is easily available to them, and do our best to make it unavailable.
And if aggression is an issue now, be sure to have a phone and charger available at all times, and have a room to go into that can't be gotten into from the other side of the door. Also have phone numbers available that you might need.
After DH was diagnosed, he became aggressive, threatening and verbally abusive on more than one occasion. It was very scary, I was shocked the first time it happened and probably didn't think very clearly. It has happened more than once. The police have been to my house more than once. The last time they were here, my DH punched a law enforcement officer.
Thanks to the good people on this forum and my social worker I have learned several tips to stay safe-er and this has reduced my stress level. Please don't wait for a crisis to implement the recommendations you read about here.
I also learned to discuss what happened (my husband's aggressive outbursts) with a trusted friend or professional. I was badly shaken by DH's behavior. I didn't tell anyone close to me or my family. Thanks goodness I was able to vent on this forum. I received excellent, NONJUDGMENTAL advice and suggestions from the caregiver heroes here.
Later, my counselor helped me process what happened. Once I shared my experience with someone I trusted, the fear and the shame had less power over me.
Because DH assaulted the LEO, he was admitted to the psych hospital. That was a turning point for us because DH was connected to a geri-psychiatrist that has worked wonders. She found the correct combo of medication to ease my DH's anxiety. She also convinced DH that his meds will not work if he drinks alcohol. He hasn't drank alcohol in several months. It has made a HUGE difference. I know what a blessing that is and I do not take it for granted.
This is a dreadfully difficult set of dynamics to find oneself in. In most of these situations, the LO with dementia who has developed such behaviors will often abruptly act out in a split second's urge; often coming out of nowhere. Other times, one can "feel" the ramping up of the LOs tension and free-floating anger getting ready to burst forth.
They "feel" the fury urge and in that second, having no control capability, such a LO will lash out or pick up the nearest item to use as a weapon and act out those fury feelings; they have no sense or consideration of consequences to their actions.
So; getting rid of all guns, knives (locking up a couple of necessary kitchen knives), scissors, hammers, wrenches, baseball bats, golf clubs, etc. is helpful for not having immediate access when one is in the midst of such dynamics.
One thing that cannot be removed are the person's fists. Most caregivers in such situations will have a room with a locked door and keep an always charged cell phone on their person and the willingness to contact 911 to prevent a disaster from happening.
Some people have "go bags" in the trunk of their car and keep car keys easily available, with some even hiding a set of keys outside the house so they can get to them. In the go bag there are usually changes of clothing and grooming items; credit card(s), some cash, copies of important papers including birth and marriage certificates, driver's license, house or other property deeds, copies of Wills, Trust, and other legal papers such as DPOAs, a list of phone numbers for family, friends, and other important contacts that may include important businesses such as banks, credit unions, doctors, shelter numbers and/or motel contact numbers, etc. Basically, a sort of self-help bag.
When a person has a spouse with such dynamics, I cannot imagine trying to sleep at night. Personally, the idea would be to sleep in a separate room with a locking doorknob so one can hear if someone is trying to enter the room and have time to dial 911 for assistance if necessary.
Also . . . an involuntary admission to GeroPsych would certainly be an option to have the person assessed and medication initiated or adjusted. If meds are not accepted and taken, then one may want ot assess if one wants to continue to live with a dangerous spouse. That is another set of dynamics altogether and getting input from an elder law attorney and a counselor could be very helpful in taking steps to safety for oneself. This should be done early and not put off for a later date or waiting for other things to happen. Knowledge is power and one needs all the knowledge one can get under such circumstances.
It is a sad and also extremely stressful situation to be forced into such needs for trying to stay safe, but safety is absolutely tantamount to eveything else; please, for anyone facing such situations, do take steps to ensure safety for yourself and other family members, (who may even be children), for some folks; this is a top level priority.
Thanks Jo C. Found that super helpful.
The go bag part was great. Ended up at the ER recently without a charged phone, no jacket, no socks and was freezing. It just made everything more complicated and stressful. Going to pack a bag and keep it in the car with a charger.
The doors I ordered, steel frame solid wood with dead bolt and kick plates finally came into stock. Waiting on the installer to schedule. This will be step one before engaging his brothers and sisters to empty out his room into another tool shed.