My husband is 83, in great shape, healthy and plays tennis. He is losing memories. Things that just happened he does not remember. He asks me the same question over and over. I have taken him to a neurologist. He gave him pills to take twice a day. He won’t take them as he never took any pills in his life, not even vitamins. I do not know how to get him to take the pills. I took him to two internists; both told him he must take his pills. I am very frustrated. I do not know how long we will have together where he knows me and our children and grandchildren.
Dementia typically progresses with time. Medication can slow the progression. Because of this, I understand your fear around your spouse’s non-compliance.
Something to consider would be having you, your adult children and any grandchildren of appropriate maturity construct and provide individual letters to your spouse. Identify objectively and non-judgmentally how his memory loss has been observed and how it impacts those around him. It should include a specific request asking him to be followed regularly by a neurologist who specializes in Memory Disorders and compliance with any medical recommendations made by that physician, including medication management. Make sure that the letters are loving and supportive and from there, you all must let it go. You cannot control your spouse. You’ll burn yourself out and sabotage the relationship if you try. It is highly likely that much of the resistance is related to the dementia. What you do have control over is seeking support, knowledge and resources for the future. The Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) offers support for those impacted by Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Their website can assist you in identifying resources and groups close to home. Your husband may not want to be assertive around his dementia care, but that does not mean you and your family can’t be assertive about getting what you need as family members of an identified patient with dementia.
Do you have a question for Tatiana? Learn more about her weekly Aha! Advice column here.