I worry about my husband with Alzheimer's being alone while I'm at work but he refuses professional company, what should I do?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 03, 2016
Appeldar asked...

My husband was diagnosed 3 yrs ago with early onset Alzheimers at the age of 56. The disease has definitely progressed, especially in the last year. I worry about him being alone during the day, since I'm still working and we can't afford for me to quit yet, and he tells me he keeps busy and also that he's from a family of men who can handle being alone. The one time we, my 3 adult daughters and I, talked to him about getting someone to come during the day or tried to convince him to go to a Senior Center for some activities once a week, he got quite upset with us. Infact, warned us to not do something like that. I've tried suggesting to people to visit him during the week while I'm at home and they all say they will but so far haven't had too many come. Any suggestions? We do have a little dog that my husband loves and tells me "Duke" (our dog) is all the company he needs while I'm at work. I've arranged with my work to work alittle longer 4 days a week so I can take Wednesdays off to be at home. My husband seems to enjoy our Wednesdays together. Since I work at a school I have most of my summers off, work three 1/2 days a week, and 3 of our grandkids live next door, so they visit him more during the summer.

Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

You have done an admirable job! Accolades to you for all the appropriate arrangements you've made. I would have suggested every one. I would not be overly concerned with his alone-time right now. Often, early onset AD folks are relieved to not be with people in the well-functioning world who have expectations that the patient knows he can not meet. When safety becomes an issue, that may be the time to insist on 'professional' companionship or a day program. Meanwhile, I would strongly recommend further conversations with friends and family members and urge them to visit more frequently. I would suggest offering some helpful hints for the best interaction with your hubby. For instance, DON'T QUESTION him about present day issues as that makes him feel as if he is being tested, instead reminisce with him about positive times from the past and ALWAYS INCLUDE HIM in conversation if more than one visitor is present.
It sounds like Duke is a wonderful companion - how fortunate they are to have each other and both are so lucky to have you. Please be sure to take care of yourself.