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“I’m not stupid, you know.”

“I’m not a total idiot yet.”         

“I haven’t completely lost my marbles.”

If you have a spouse with Alzheimer’s Disease, chances are excellent that you have heard them utter one or all of these phrases. No one wants to slide effortlessly into cognition oblivion without putting up a fight .

My husband and many other AD spouses in the earlier stages, with whom I have spoken, WANT to be helped to remember  the day to day chores and conversations they forget. (This is in addition to the daily lists I have discussed in a previous Blog)

If Sid asks me what we are doing for the day, he wants me to tell him that he already asked that question – he says it helps him to remember, and it is his way of “exercising” and “utilizing” his brain. If he forgets to put away the breakfast jam , he wants me to tell him he forgot – he feels that will help him remember to put it away the next time. (It doesn’t) If he forgets to shut off a ceiling fan , he wants me to tell him. I feel it is “nagging” , but for once in our married lives, he does not accuse me of nagging. He said it is helping him. He has lost so much short term memory that he is desperately seeking a recall life line . If he can retrieve the incident from his memory, it makes him feel less “stupid”, as he calls it – although neither I nor anyone else has EVER used that term in reference to his disease.

Up until recently, if I repeated what I had already told him, it did trigger his memory. Lately, I have noticed that even with me reminding him that he asked me that question, or me reminding him of an entire conversation we had, his mind is blank . He cannot recall any of it. It frustrates  and saddens both of us.

So what am I accomplishing by continuing this routine? Are we both not better off if I take the advice of the professionals and my support buddies, and just answer the question as if it is the first time I have heard it; repeat the conversation as if it is the first time we are engaging in it?  He will not feel discouraged, and I will not be screaming in frustration.   I honestly do not know what to do. What do you think? Have you had to deal with this situation?

MESSAGE BOARD TOPIC - Helping Your Spouse Hang onto Their Cognition 

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