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Topic The Case of the Disappearing Wife Go to previous topic Go to next topic Go to higher level

By plcpainter On 2011.05.02 15:28
My husband of 12 years is 79. I am 59. He has been suffering from PD since 2004 but wasn't properly diagnosed until 2008. Meds put symptoms at bay for the first couple of years for the most part. The past year he has gone sharply downhill. The incontinence, blank demeanor, etc. I have been able to deal with but the past few months, he has begun to ask me "Who are you?" He sees me out working in the yard and thinks I am someone else. Sometimes I'm another woman (who was cooking dinner or taking him out in the car) or I'm a man (who was out mowing the lawn). He asks who these people are that I've hired to work and I patiently go over with him that "they" are all me. Sometimes they are so real to him that he gets really agitated and frightened that he is losing his mind. On one level he knows they are not real but on another they are very much there. We have cut back his Comtan, and that helped some. Then we started a small 25 mg dose of Seroquel two weeks ago. I thought it was working but this past Saturday he had me sit with him for 4 hours while we went over and over who the dark haired woman was vs. who I was. I assure him that this isn't anything to worry about. That his daytime naps and dreams get confused with the reality of our life. I assure him that I love him and will protect him. This leaves me emotionally exhausted and with an overwhelming feeling of sheer loneliness. It's as if the "me" that he loved and adored is being erased from his psyche and that is a very painful reality to witness. I really wonder how much of the real him is still in there? And how do I deal with this, not only for him, but also for myself when we are no longer a team? We live alone on a small farm. He has not driven for 3 years and isn't able to help out at all, even with dinner. I've worked hard all my life, so the hard work isn't as difficult as the emotional loss. I know there aren't any fixes here but this forum has been such a great source of information and inspiration. Thanks for letting me share.

By Pearly4 On 2011.05.02 18:16
I can relate as the Disappearing Daughter. After four years of living with us my mother began to not recognize me in the morning. Sometimes I was someone she knew, sometime some stranger. Sometimes I was my own daughter, sometimes I was her mother. She had other symptoms such as not understanding how to use a phone, a remote, getting lost, dressing inappropriately, but after talking to her neurologist she was started on the Alzheimer's drug Aricept and had an almost miraculous improvement! The drug is increased in stages, however I refused to take it to the final level the doctor recommended because it also was know to cause extreme diarrhea in persons of her size at the higher dosage. We were having such success with the lower dosage I didn't want to have her refuse to take it at all because of the diarrhea.

She showed no side effects and while I know it's not a cure or and doesn't always show long-term improvement, we found it quite helpful for the remainder of her life - a term of maybe a year. She was also on Seroquel for hallucinations and delusions.

I would definitely urge you to talk again with your husbands neurologist or doctor and especially if you note other symptoms that might commonly be associated with Alzheimer's.

By plcpainter On 2011.05.02 18:52
Thank you for your response Pearly4. How you described your mom could be exactly my husband! He can't remember how to use his cell phone, the remote, the coffee maker (coffee all over the kitchen floor, cabinets, and counters! ACK!), even door locks baffle him. So sad when the man was an industrial designer! I have contacted his neurologist about starting him on the Aricept. I will let you know how that goes. I'm sorry you've now lost her but thank you for sharing your experience.

By karolinakitty On 2011.05.02 20:19
Aricept may actually be a little late for your situation. It is used to slow down the progression of dementia. It has helped us somewhat, but there is still progression, just not as rapid. These could also be delusions/hallucinations; it is the meds in most cases, although they can happen with dementia.
My mom got to the point of not knowing me, not recognizing me, it s apart of it.
My guy isn't that far yet, but, even with ordinary things i always keep in the back of my mind that he is still the same man i loved several years ago and even though the outside has changed, the mind just isn't there like it used to, he is still the man i love. No matter how frustrating it gets to keep everything in line, he is still there and i try to give him that respect and dignity he always had from me...i always think in the back of my mind something i learned as a child. gram always told me to treat others as i would want to be treated. In the respect I would hope that he would treat me the same as I treat him....

By susger8 On 2011.05.03 08:08
It might not be too late for Aricept. My dad was pretty far into the delusions and confusion when we tried Excelon, but it helped anyway. Unfortunately it also increased his tremors to the point where it was really bothering him, so we discontinued it, but that doesn't happen to everyone with this type of medication.


By plcpainter On 2011.05.03 12:37
Yesterday, my husband sat me down and asked about all the "people" who he'd been seeing. I assured him again "they" were all me. He said, "That's what I thought. So from now on I'm just going to tell myself, they all are YOU but if someone else who is real is here you are going to have to let me know!" HAHA! We laughed but he was serious too. Then last night as we were going to sleep, we had our ritual "good night kiss". I rolled over to sleep and after a minute or two, he said, "Where's my good night kiss?" I told him I'd just given it too him and he replied with a chuckle "No that was the OTHER you"! I laughed too and told him he was milking this multiple me and he laughed and said, "Well if it gets me more kisses..." Pretty cute. That's my playful guy whom I've always loved. It was so nice to see him poking fun at himself and being full of humor! These moments are fleeting but all the sweeter for their increasing rarity.

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