Looking after someone with dementia can place a great strain on a relationship. It is unlike caring for people with other problems in that it not only involves doing, or helping them to do, the things they can no longer manage alone, it also involves coping with behaviour that is often very difficult to understand.
For a carer to be accused of theft or to be told that the child next door has been into the house and stolen keys, a purse or a wallet could be bewildering. On reflection, however, it may not be too difficult to understand, that a person whose memory has deteriorated to the point at which they can never be quite sure where they have put anything, might think that someone else had moved or stolen it.
A more difficult problem for one Wednesday Group carer was noticing that his wife of 50 years was looking at him as though she hated him. “I can’t understand it,” he said. “She’s alright with everyone else but it’s as though she can’t stand me. I do everything for her and sometimes, when I look up, I catch her looking at me as though she could kill me.”
A few weeks later, the same carer said that his wife had asked him, “Who are you?” He told her his name and added, “I’m your husband.” She peered closely into his face and then responded, “Oh no you’re not.” “I suppose if she thinks that I’m a stranger in her home, that might explain why she looks at me with such animosity,” he observed sadly.
For information on the Wednesday Group, contact Jan on 01777 709974.