I struggle with emotions regarding my husband’s forgetfulness.
How do I handle my irritation (which is embarrassing to admit) when I repeat and repeat things for my forgetful husband?
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My wife drives me absolutely bonkers. But she doesn't do it on purpose. I am mindful of that every time we go through our conversation loops. One time she was driving me crazy and I responded in a not so patient way and she started crying. I visualize her crying and remind myself she isn't doing it on purpose. That helps me be patient while adapting to our dynamically changing normal. Then I have tools I use to cope: Exercise, meditation, breathing exercises, golf(playing and practicing), studying philosophy specifically stoicism, whatever activity I can find that releases feel good endorphins.
Well, I am not religious, I do follow a Buddhist practice and meditation, and in the concept of being present now. I like that I can be content and happy between difficult times, except I seem to have a knee-jerk reaction to being irritable when I have to repeat things so often for my husband are use a notebook to remember important things in my life and ask my husband to do the same, however, he doesn’t seem to want to do that. Perhaps, I am in denial about his fading memory, otherwise, why would I expect him to keep track of things I get mad at myself for not being patient at times. All the times, I can be loving and accepting of his difficulties with cognitive impairment.
Thanks for sharing your practices and dealing with your wife’s memory loss. I clearly have work to do to improve my reactiveness.
I care for my husband also with memory loss. We have tamed the repetitive questions with a white board posted by the coffee pot (or any place regularly visited). Each morning I post the activities for the day for both of us. He has come to rely on checking there. It's worked really well for us.
We also use a white board. My DW with early stage AZ actually suggested it. We go over the day's activities every morning and add them to the white board. She still is forgetful and often repeats questions. It no longer irritates me; I just calmly answer her question. Whenever I get irritated with her and snap, I stop, forgive myself and choose a better response. I'm working on responding rather than reacting. That takes patience and learning to pause before opening my mouth.
Learning to pause is key, just a few breaths.
There was a phase where my husband would ask the same question about 100 times a minute. That passed, thankfully. It drove me crazy at the time. He truly didn’t remember from one minute to the next. He used Post It notes a lot around that period. When he realized earlier on that he was losing his memory (and I was still in denial) he would write things on those little notes. It gradually increased so that the kitchen table and large island was completely covered with them. It became a kind of obsession. Now he rarely writes things down and his speaking is mostly whispers. I talk to him a lot, anticipating and reminding him of things. I learned that getting impatient with him was guaranteed to make things worse. So I act calm around him even when I’m not. Medications also seemed to solve a lot of the questioning which seemed to be part of the agitation. We take care of him at home and he is always watched.
Hang in there. You get used to it after a while. It becomes the new normal.
Oh you all are so kind to respond to my request for help. It makes tears come to my eyes. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. It is indeed encouraging to consider new ways to deal with these memory issues. Sometimes it has felt like I am living my life more than once when repetition makes the conversation loops stop time. Love to you all.
Somehow I've managed to turn off the switch that causes irritation with my husband, and also, in general. The irritation is not helpful for me or for him. I don't want him to feel bad about his Alzheimer's Disease. I just do not let myself react. As @jbur said, "pause". Put it in the context, he's asking me this again because of the disease. He's not asking me the same question over and over again just to irritate me.
I also try to engage him as much as possible. When he asks me what day it is, I reply, "Yesterday was Saturday, and tomorrow will be Monday." He still knows the answer.
Part of my philosophy of caregiving is creating a safe environment for my husband so he's comfortable, shares his feelings, and feels free to ask me anything. I think of myself as his guide.
Like you Teri I find, with practice, the pause to interrupt reactivity becomes automatic most of the time.
I think pausing reactivity serves us well in many aspects of life, @jbur. This morning I listened to a lecture on medical advocacy and the instructor's advice was to remain polite even when firing a medical professional. It's kind of relaxing to adopt calmness as an orientation. It makes for better interactions in the long run.