Holidays and unusual depression

Posted by teacher502 @teacher502, Dec 21, 2021

My sweet husband has been able to remain active and very helpful during this Thanksgiving season – until this past weekend – a few days before Christmas. All of a sudden his demeanor has drastically changed to very quiet, withdrawn, obviously sad. He tried to tell me how he feels but he simply said, "It is weird. I can't find the words." I see changes going on right now, but this deep depression is rather sudden and different. Can anyone explain why this is happening? All of our children and grandchildren are coming for about 3 days and staying with us. I do know that part of it is that he is worried that I am doing too much, but I have worked very careful at planning and having everything ready. He is also sleeping more and more during this time.. Any insights would be greatly appreciated. We all want this time to be very special for him.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Caregivers: Dementia group.

I forgot to add that he has LBD with mild Parkinsons. He is 66 and we have had a diagnosis for about 3 years.

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@teacher502

I forgot to add that he has LBD with mild Parkinsons. He is 66 and we have had a diagnosis for about 3 years.

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Good morning @teacher502 I'm Scott and my wife had a brain tumor, which caused her many symptoms similar to dementia due to its size and location. While I know every patient, their disease, journey, and caregiver are unique I'll offer a couple of insights from my years of caregiving with her.

Holidays were both exhausting and incredible sad times for my wife. Over the years we discovered that she was able to muster the strength and mental stamina for one holiday, Thanksgiving, but not both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was just too much for her to manage. For my wife, this combined with a serious concern by her that the holidays would interfere with her daily routine, which was paramount for her to be able to manage her life.

She also was aware she could not do the same, often years' long traditions, that she had in the past. While she rarely mentioned this out loud, it was constantly evident in her actions, responses, and affect.

As I said, this was only my wife's and my experiences, which may or may not be helpful or true for anyone else, but I share it in case it may help.

I send you Strength, Courage, & Peace

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Thank you for sharing. I am grateful for these insights. Hoping that the holidays are full of priceless memories for you and yours.
Jan

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@teacher502 It is good that you and your husband have an open line of communication, and can discuss things.

I agree with @IndianaScott about the realities of diminished capabilities in times of illness. A couple of thoughts came to mind as I read your post. Your husband is sad he may not be able to participate at the same level as in years past, and is concerned you are pushing yourself even more to create what has been. Also, there is a progression in his disease that he might find unsettling to have "on display" to visiting family members. It may "drive home" the real fact things have changed, and he is unsure how it will be seen by visitors.

Does any of this sound like it might fit your situation? Reassurances from you and facing the upcoming holidays as a team, may make a difference in him.
Ginger

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As a caregiver for my husband who just passed in November from LBD and Parkinson’s, I understand a little of what you’re going through. My husband had a lot of anxiety in social situations even with his sisters and their kids. He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to find the words and would look stupid. He also had sensory overload so too loud or too much activity going on around him would cause him to shut down. His mind was on overload and his brain could only process so much for a short time as the disease progressed. He was better approached by one person at a time in a quieter atmosphere or we took him out of the limelight and let him take naps as needed. Three days is exhausting for a normal person. And because I was his only caregiver, my husband was very protective of my working too much and he was afraid or paranoid of me getting sick. Your husband loves you so much and maybe in his eyes you’re doing too much. You’re all he’s got. Maybe give him extra hugs and slow down and find little moments of joy together. I encouraged my husband to share his feelings so I could best meet his needs. When everyone is there, make sure to be conscious of his needs and let him know your fine. Sounds like you’re a wonderful caregiver! Keep loving him! Hoping Christmas is wonderful for you both!

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@gingerw

@teacher502 It is good that you and your husband have an open line of communication, and can discuss things.

I agree with @IndianaScott about the realities of diminished capabilities in times of illness. A couple of thoughts came to mind as I read your post. Your husband is sad he may not be able to participate at the same level as in years past, and is concerned you are pushing yourself even more to create what has been. Also, there is a progression in his disease that he might find unsettling to have "on display" to visiting family members. It may "drive home" the real fact things have changed, and he is unsure how it will be seen by visitors.

Does any of this sound like it might fit your situation? Reassurances from you and facing the upcoming holidays as a team, may make a difference in him.
Ginger

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Thank you, Ginger. Your comments are very eye opening and comforting to me. I am doing more mainly because he spends a lot of time waiting on me to tell him what to do versus the fact that many of these things he used to do without needing to be reminded. Grateful for your comments. I am pretty sure he will sleep and nap for a few days after this Christmas is over….but he won't be alone because I am already tired! He is aware of the fact that he cannot do the things he used to do, and it makes him sad that he feels that he is already a burden. But I am the lucky one that had the honor of spending so many wonderful years with this amazing man…..and now I am blessed with the privilege being there for him when he needs me the most!

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@rudie

As a caregiver for my husband who just passed in November from LBD and Parkinson’s, I understand a little of what you’re going through. My husband had a lot of anxiety in social situations even with his sisters and their kids. He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to find the words and would look stupid. He also had sensory overload so too loud or too much activity going on around him would cause him to shut down. His mind was on overload and his brain could only process so much for a short time as the disease progressed. He was better approached by one person at a time in a quieter atmosphere or we took him out of the limelight and let him take naps as needed. Three days is exhausting for a normal person. And because I was his only caregiver, my husband was very protective of my working too much and he was afraid or paranoid of me getting sick. Your husband loves you so much and maybe in his eyes you’re doing too much. You’re all he’s got. Maybe give him extra hugs and slow down and find little moments of joy together. I encouraged my husband to share his feelings so I could best meet his needs. When everyone is there, make sure to be conscious of his needs and let him know your fine. Sounds like you’re a wonderful caregiver! Keep loving him! Hoping Christmas is wonderful for you both!

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Oh wow! Your words have helped so much. While the children and grandchildren love being here together, I may have to figure out how to adjust these visits to make it easier for both of us. We are a great team and so very much in love. Thank you for sharing and helping us with your life experiences. Closing with a grateful heart! ❤

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@teacher502

Thank you, Ginger. Your comments are very eye opening and comforting to me. I am doing more mainly because he spends a lot of time waiting on me to tell him what to do versus the fact that many of these things he used to do without needing to be reminded. Grateful for your comments. I am pretty sure he will sleep and nap for a few days after this Christmas is over….but he won't be alone because I am already tired! He is aware of the fact that he cannot do the things he used to do, and it makes him sad that he feels that he is already a burden. But I am the lucky one that had the honor of spending so many wonderful years with this amazing man…..and now I am blessed with the privilege being there for him when he needs me the most!

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@teacher502 Be honest with yourself, and your husband, and your family/visitors. Things are not the same as they were in years past, for everyone! Many of us have been discussing how we have tamed down the celebrations, and look at the deeper connection of being able to visit simply. And, that's quite good, relieving undue expectations! I honestly do believe that approaching these next few weeks with humor, and patience, and just letting things settle in, will be okay. Like your husband has noted, each of you take care of both of you! Deep breath, relax….
Ginger

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I really appreciate this discussion. Everyone is so on point here. My husband now has moderate Alzheimer's Disease. He is not as sociable as he was before and too much stimulation exhausts him. When a friend visits, I tell him he does not have to stay with us. Usually he says hello and retreats to our bedroom. I did have one guest over for Thanksgiving and he did converse with her for a while, but by the end of dinner he was exhausted, went to bed and was down for the night. I was thinking about having that same guest again for Christmas, but I've decided to pass for a quiet day instead. Maybe @teacher502 let your husband know he can leave the festivities to rest any time he wants to and ask your family members to keep things on the quiet side as much as it's possible. My husband is deeply tied to our routines, especially meal times and certain chores, so maybe try to preserve as much of your husband's routine as possible while everyone is visiting. Wishing you all the best this holiday season. Teri

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@tsc

I really appreciate this discussion. Everyone is so on point here. My husband now has moderate Alzheimer's Disease. He is not as sociable as he was before and too much stimulation exhausts him. When a friend visits, I tell him he does not have to stay with us. Usually he says hello and retreats to our bedroom. I did have one guest over for Thanksgiving and he did converse with her for a while, but by the end of dinner he was exhausted, went to bed and was down for the night. I was thinking about having that same guest again for Christmas, but I've decided to pass for a quiet day instead. Maybe @teacher502 let your husband know he can leave the festivities to rest any time he wants to and ask your family members to keep things on the quiet side as much as it's possible. My husband is deeply tied to our routines, especially meal times and certain chores, so maybe try to preserve as much of your husband's routine as possible while everyone is visiting. Wishing you all the best this holiday season. Teri

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An incident that happened yesterday gave me more insight about the difficulty of the holidays for those with memory problems. Our nephew called to wish us a Merry Christmas. My husband, who has moderate Alzheimer's, would not pick up the phone. He said he had no idea who our nephew was, what had happened in his life, and no desire to talk to him. He said "It's part of this stupid disease." My husband was frustrated and I was saddened to observe another example of the losses he experiences. Six weeks ago, he called this nephew on his own. We still have moments of shared laughter and love for which I am grateful. Here's wishing manageable holidays to all. Teri

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@teacher502

Oh wow! Your words have helped so much. While the children and grandchildren love being here together, I may have to figure out how to adjust these visits to make it easier for both of us. We are a great team and so very much in love. Thank you for sharing and helping us with your life experiences. Closing with a grateful heart! ❤

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@teacher502 figuring out how to adjust the visits to work for everyone can be difficult but it can be done. Is there somewhere in your town that your children and their children could go for a couple of hours (like to see the lights and decorations)? Maybe 1 adult child could stay behind and have some one-on-one time with their dad. You could set this up so each child could have their own time alone with their dad. And, of course, you would stay there so he would feel safe.
Do you think this, or something like this, could work?

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Wow! That is not only a great idea, but it would be beneficial for everyone. We would all get bits of time together as a family and increments of one on one time for just about each person. Thanks for such a simple, but quite wonderful suggestion!

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