Dear Family and Friends,
My friend, Barb Webb, whose husband has Alzheimer’s, offers another look into living with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s. Today, she talks about the frustration and futility — and sadness — of arguing with Al.
Sometimes it’s very hard to read what Barb writes. Her honesty is raw and painful. I appreciate her so much for her openness, however, and I think you will as well.
I think the dynamics of arguing are interesting. Each couple argues in their own unique way. But those dynamics can change, especially when dealing with someone who has Alzheimer’s.
For example, I was raised in a family of “yellers”. When I would be in a heated argument, I would yell, always being careful to try and not yell anything I couldn’t take back, but yelling just the same. Al’s attitude has always been, “I will be glad to discuss this issue with you when you can calm down and be rational.” Rational, passional, I wanted to get it off my chest in the way I was always used to doing. But over the years, Al’s way of dealing with disagreements rubbed off on me and most of the time, I calmed down and then discussed this with him. I have to admit, it is the best way to deal with problems – much better than yelling and not really accomplishing anything. But now that Al has Alzheimer’s our roles have changed.
Al is always wanting to help me. That hasn’t changed. Most of the time, I am very grateful for that, but when it comes to the kitchen therein the problem lies. We have a V-shaped corner where our sink is located, so for the two of us to be working in that area is quite difficult. Usually when he asks how he can help, I tell him to wait until I am done doing whatever I am doing and then he can do a task I need completed. But tonight he just wouldn’t get the idea. He asked three times while three times I told him to wait until I was done rinsing the dishes and then when I started to wash them he could dry. By the 3rd time, I was frustrated and he was mad. He started arguing with me that I was controlling and not letting him help. I tried again (calmly) to explain everything to him. It only made him madder and by the time he was done, he was going to sleep in the other bedroom and never talk to me or try to help me again. I have to be honest. I told him that was fine with me. I know I should have stayed calm, but I was at my wit’s end. Of course, the only thing that accomplished was me washing AND drying the dishes myself.
I am currently at my computer and he is sitting in the family room not sure what happened. After I am done here, I will go to him and just start talking normally because already he doesn’t remember the argument. That is the only good thing about Alzheimer’s – I can finally argue my heart out and yell and within five minutes he doesn’t remember any of it, I feel so much better and life goes on.
I, too, was raised in a family of “yellers.” Well, in truth, my mom and I were the yellers and my Dad was always very calm. In the tradition of marrying someone like your father, I married a very calm man who is always willing to discuss everything — even things about which we strongly disagree — with reason and love.
Sometimes that’s very frustrating!!! Ha!
Barb’s scenario is frightening to me. It’s my husband’s mom who has Alzheimer’s, and my sweet husband who is at greatest risk for the disease in our family. Dave also is a huge help around the house….and our 26-year marriage is filled with doing almost everything together. Grocery shopping, laundry, changing sheets… .
Will I be living Barb’s scene in 20 years? Sooner?
I am selfish. I want a retirement filled with travel, visiting kids and grandkids, and enjoying more one-on-one time with the man who has filled my life with wonder at the kindness and generosity present in this world.
That’s why I will participate in the WALK TO END ALZHEIMER’S this year. To work toward my dream of a long, loving retirement with my husband.