← Return to MCI: Trying to find our best path and what to do next

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Hi Dan – If any of us could predict the future, we would be famous! Right now my husband is resisting getting a formal diagnosis, but MCI is apparent to family and close friends. My daughters are gently trying to get him to recognize it, but when I suggest it, I get anger – so I just work on adjusting right now. Has your wife shared, or allowed you to share, her diagnosis with family and friends?

Like you we are seeing doors left unlocked, missed pills, difficulty with words and computer tasks, and forgetting the steps in mildly complex operations like getting a simple meal ready. He even joked the other day about "being Alice" (my Mom) when he set the timer for 40 seconds instead of 40 minutes and was surprised how quickly the time passed.

This pattern is familiar to me, I was caretaker for my Mom who had MCI for about 7 years, and hers did not really progress much before her death. My father-in-law progressed over about 10 years to relatively severe dementia in his 80's. On the other hand, my son-in-law's Mom progressed from MCI to death from complications of dementia at 71 in only 8 short years. One of our best friends is about 3 years ahead of us on this journey, and we are able to talk often and support each other. In winter we usually spend time together, and it is easy to see the pattern of "good days, bad days" – are you seeing it?

Our local MCI support group at the Senior Center is on hiatus because the director retired, and she was the leader, as soon as it resumes I will be encouraging "us" to join. In the mean time, I talk to my friend often, and we can even laugh sometimes at the parallels in our experiences.

One way I try to cope is by helping him to have everything he needs in sight & within reach. For example, he now has an office organizer sitting right near his computer on the kitchen table with basic supplies, current important papers, today's pills and other important stuff right at hand and clearly visible. It has already saved much time of the two of us searching for where he put things, and if I find misplaced items, I put them right there. Every shelf or tote in the laundry & his workroom are clearly marked with contents and I try to be diligent about getting things in the right places. Next stop – his garage!

I also place post-it notes where he sits to remind him of tasks, appointments, and my schedule for the day – one thing per post-it so when it is past, it is immediately discarded. If I leave the house, not only do I tell him when I go, I leave a post-it of where, when I expect to return, and I call if I am delayed.

Finally, instead of expecting him to do things he could easily manage in the past, I am telling him he can retire, and we hire things done (like installing a new door or changing light fixtures.) But other tasks I encourage him to do to stay active, like mowing & raking, pruning bushes, etc. Maybe with your wife, that might mean instead of you trying to do everything in the house as she progresses, you get a regular person to come in and do laundry and cleaning, find suitable microwave meals or order in – you get the idea. We also continue to try to play games with friends – hard right now, but we have even played a dice game on Zoom.

Do you or your wife have someone you can talk to about what you are experiencing? Either friends or family with experience, or a local MCI group? That is probably my biggest help. And it is SO important to take care of yourself. Also, do you have a trusted friend or family member who can give you breaks as life progresses? It is especially important to line up someone who can step in if you become ill or some other emergency arises. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Come back and visit usoften.

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Replies to "Hi Dan - If any of us could predict the future, we would be famous! Right..."

Hi Sue. My mother-in-law also had the full progression (MCI/Dementia/Alzheimer's) while she lived near us (about 18 years) so we have some experience. But because she kept to her self, I really didn’t know everything she went through. I regret not checking in with her more often now but I also never thought my wife would also go through the same disease.
We have two kids but they are in denial and say it’s just old age. I have a close friends we talk to but they live about 175 miles away. my wife pushes me to go for a bike (motorcycle) ride to take a break, which I do but I’m worrying when I am by myself. I never not of it as preparing for a marathon but I’m realizing it now. Thanks