Is there a way to enjoy my respite time and help my husband get past his anger at me?

4 answers | Last updated: Oct 02, 2016
Lizabee asked...

My husband is 76. He had a hemorragic stroke in April, 2010, followed by the diagnosis of Vascular Dementia. I am 47, and a bit frazzled, needing a few hours a month of time to myself. A local agency offered me 8 hours of in home care, which I divided into two four hour sessions two weeks apart. I thought the firs session went well, but a day later it manifested itself into anger, and a day after that a several hour elopement. My husband has always been controlling. I have never had many outside interests, however this is quite a different life now, and I feel my body and mind asking for respite. The next respite is supposed to be in a week. Is there a diplomatic way to own this, and help my husband get past his anger at me? His injury is right front, so I have a tough row with him. I also can continue to have alone time at home, we have property, and I take long walks and craft, and garden, so it is not as though I have no options. Any advice would be appreciated.


Expert Answers

Deborah Cooke is a gerontologist specializing in dementia, delirium, caregiving, and senior fitness. She is a certified dementia care provider and specialist through the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Cooke currently manages several multidisciplinary programs to enhance well-being for hospitalized seniors and other vulnerable patients at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. She also serves on the board of NewYork-Presbyterian's Patient and Family Education Advisory Committee. She has 18 years of experience working with the aging and caregiver communities.

I'm sure this is not what you expected going into your marriage. (My husband and I are 20 years apart and I always wonder: if and when.) You have every right to be frustrated and in need of respite. Allow yourself to have these emotions. It's OK!

Your situation is difficult at best, but you are not alone. The frontal lobe injury does make it difficult to handle behaviors. With dementia individuals, especially of this kind, they cannot control their behavior. The trick is controlling your own behavior: stay calm, be firm yet keep an even tone in your voice.

Your choice to get home care is a good one. You do have an option of privately hiring help or finding an Adult Day Care if you have the funds. However, you are lucky to have property you can roam and have things to do there.

Try and get your husband involved (other than when you need your time). Productivity is key for any person. Try and create tasks that are relevant to his interests, keeping safety in mind. You can try other interests since sometimes this can change and be very therapeutic (gardening has been proven to help). Try directing his attention to something more pleasurable and do your best to get the home aide to help with this. They don't have to just "baby sit."

Unfortunately, you may not be able to control the anger. Find techniques to help you control your frustrations: deep breathing, leaving the room for a minute, thinking of a pleasurable task. Anything to help you manage these behaviors.

For his wandering, check out the Alzheimer's Association or your local police department. Often they have systems in place to hopefully ensure a safe return should they wander and not be able to return.

Relish your alone time, be frustrated, angry. Your feelings are legitimate, but like you need, get some time alone and breathe!


Community Answers

Lara7 answered...

Great answer - this happened to a friend of mine. Her husband just loved her and was so kind, but after a stroke became angry and hateful towards her. She tried seeking medical help anywhere she could as had the financial means - nothing helped. She did as recommended above and not feeling guilty for taking time for herself - that is the secret. She also prayed constantly to the Lord. Read the Psalms. Getting help is essential - let them get angry and whatever - it's not the "real" person and one has to understand that.

If you let them "get to you" you will not survive. Remember, the "husband you married" not the person who you have right now. Strokes are horrible depending on "where they occur."

You might check with your local hospital to see if they have a "stroke clinic" - I did this when my father had strokes an it really helps you understand what is going on in the brain.

Good luck.


Mary simpson answered...

WHAT A BLESSING YOU ARE. WE SOOO APPRECIATE OUR CAREGIVERS.... EVEN IF THE PERSON CAN NOT EXPRESS IT. YOU ARE AN ANGEL AND THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT HERE THAT KNOW IT!

I WAS THINKING. MAYBE CHANGE THE HOURS TO 2 HRS A WEEK? BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE MORE REGULAR AND SHORTER FOR HIM TO GET USED TO.

YOU MUST GET AWAY MORE THEN 8 HRS ALSO. BEING A CAREGIVER IS HARD HARD WORK. NOT ONLY WAS MY MOM MY CAREGIVER. I WAS HERS WHEN SHE WAS 91. SO I HAVE BEEN ON BOTH SIDES.

PLEASE PLEASE ADD MORE HOURS TO YOUR AWAY TIMES. YOU MUST KEEP FROM GETTING BURNOUT. HE WILL GET BETTER AS TIME GOES BY AND SO ITS NOW THAT YOU MUST GET THROUGH.

GET HIM ONLINE IF POSSIBLE. THERE ARE SO MANY GOOD STROKE GROUPS FOR HIM AND FOR YOU. SUPPORT AND KNOWLEDGE THEY CAN GIVE WILL SAVE YOU BOTH.

FOR NOW KEEP DOING YOU ZEN THING[LOL SOMETHING YOU ARE DOING IS RIGHT TO KEEP YOU SO CALM UNDER PRESSURE] ... HANG IN AND TAKE CARE OF YOU FIRST.

HUGS MARY THIS TOO MIGHT BE OF HELP.....

WHO IS A HEALER? by Mary Simpson September 1997

It is said....... A "healer" is one who evokes the "will" to live in someone. So simple, anyone can be an instrument of healing to someone who is deprived of their former life. ..... A situation that can become a heavy burden to bear.

What basic steps can be used?

A "shut in;" recent or not so recently disabled friend can feel the overburdening lack of "little insignificant" interactions to their senses. Such as.......

"¢petting an animal "¢touching a tree "¢setting under the stars "¢feeling the warmth of the sun "¢smelling a forest "¢feeling rain on their skin "¢planting a flower "¢touching sand; soil; rocks. "¢hearing the sound of wind blowing trees "¢holding a sea shell, feather, piece of wood "¢seeing a favorite impressive view "¢watching a sunrise/sunset "¢being near a small child "¢enjoying the artistry of others....art; music; etc. "¢visiting in person, or through the mail with old friends "¢going to old "haunts" not visited since the disability "¢tasting a longed for taste

The human condition requires stimulation of all the 5 bodily senses: touching; hearing; seeing; smelling; tasting. Any "perceived" lack in these areas can lead to intense despair.

Find out in casual conversation..... "What seems to be, the overriding feeling of lack at this moment?" The answer may surprise you. It may be such a trivial thing. Never promise anything, a disappointment can lead to further loss of hope. However, if you can bring a "lacked" situation back into their narrow environment, even once to a small degree , you can be a "healer".

A person who feels "imprisoned" in body and environment..... is a person that may have lost hope. Lost hope leads to "willing" the body to die. Even the smallest change in their situation can change the quality of life, and therefore, their "will" to live.

If you have a friend who has had a stroke or other major, limiting health problem, do not drift away. Keep in touch. Even if you feel the friend no longer seeks you out....it may be due to their feelings of being a burden to you, or through unwanted feelings of begging for your attention.

You can be that special angel that makes the "world of difference" in their lives.

Everyone can be a "HEALER"! God smiles through you.


Loving nana-northern california answered...

Try going to the group "caring for a spouse with dementia" on this site. all of the people are dealing with similar issues and you will not only learn a lot, but you will have an opportunity to vent and "talk" with people who are in similar "shoes" as you. Good luck. Kat