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Friend´s husband shows signs of dementia, what can I do?

(46 Posts)
polyester57 Tue 14-Jul-20 12:24:57

We have been friends, singly and as a couple for decades. My friend´s husband was always, quiet, funny, witty, very reliable, a great friend. A few years ago he started having problems with his speech, just very slightly. I have tried talking to her, but she says that she knows, she is not stupid, but there is nothing she can do. Apparently, he has been to see a doctor, who has told him it is early dementia and given him some pills. I told her to see a specialist, and she says, I know, we should. But they seem to be doing nothing about it. I am so sad, these are our closest friends, I feel that something should be done, he should change his diet (I am a great believer in natural medicine), or they should see a specialist, but can´t get through without being seen as interfering.

Blinko Tue 14-Jul-20 12:30:29

With the best will in the world, I don't think you can do anything. It's for them to decide when the time is right to take action. Until then, you can continue to be a good friend, and offer your support in whatever they decide to do.

Chewbacca Tue 14-Jul-20 12:37:46

Whilst I can understand and appreciate that you're anxious for your dear friends to access the very best care available; I think you have to leave it up to them to decide if they and when they want to seek further professional advice or treatment. It sounds as though your friend is fully aware of the situation but she's possibly still trying to come to terms with it and what the future will hold for them. With you remaining as a good and loyal friend, who can support them both when they need it most, I'm sure they'll come to the decision to seek further professional advice when they feel ready. You sound like a good friend polyester, just be there for them when they need you to be.

kittylester Tue 14-Jul-20 12:44:05

If he has had a formal diagnosis rather than just his gp's opinion the best bet is for them to ring the Alzheimer's Society for advice or look at the website.

If they have not had a formal diagnosis then asking for a referral to a memory clinic is the way to go.

If he has been given pills, it would sound like there has been a formal diagnosis.

It takes some people a while to accept such catastrophic news so you might be better to bide your time meanwhile you could check out the Alzheimer's Society.

TrendyNannie6 Tue 14-Jul-20 12:47:49

There is nothing you can do, just be there as a friend, when you say they seem to be doing nothing about it, they have been to the drs so they have, somewhere along the line he will be seeing a specialist, while having a healthy diet certainly helps. It’s not going to stop the progression of dementia, one of my parents had dementia for several years before passed away, I would take them for rheki sessions, which they really enjoyed, when I was looking after a family member, I had a person well meaning who would say this and that, didn’t have a clue about dementia, Coming out with mum o jumbo which didn’t help at all, I’m not saying for one minute that you are,
Blinko but until you actually live with someone with this awful disease or are looking after someone with it, it’s very hard to understand, the best thing I found personally was being in contact with the Alzheimer’s society and attending carers meetings which really helped

polyester57 Tue 14-Jul-20 12:49:11

Thank you for your replies. I quess my next question is, has anyone been able to make diet changes to lessen the impact of dementia?

TrendyNannie6 Tue 14-Jul-20 12:51:09

Sorry not blinko it should have been polyester57

polyester57 Tue 14-Jul-20 12:53:18

Also, apparently, he does not suffer from Alzheime
rs, but early dementia. What is the difference?

TrendyNannie6 Tue 14-Jul-20 12:53:49

Our family member had a very good healthy diet from the start veg fruit etc etc never smoked, non drinker, used to go walking for miles, yet still got it, so I’m not sure that it does

sodapop Tue 14-Jul-20 13:03:57

I understand your concerns about your friend polyester57 but I think having given your opinion as to what you think they should do its time to let them process things in their own way.
As Chewbacca said they need to come to terms with things in their own time. I'm sure there is help and advice available when they are ready. In the meantime just be a supportive friend.

annsixty Tue 14-Jul-20 13:06:21

While a change in style of living may work for some, my H was very healthy, rarely saw a Dr, played sport, football, cricket, badminton, squash and golf, the latter until his late sixties, ate really healthily, social drinker,etc, etc.

Our main hobby together was walking, up to 7/8 miles and sometimes ( if we read the map wrongly or got lost) much more.

He developed a mixed dementia, Alzheimer’s and vascular in his mid 70’s.
I never allowed myself to feel in the slightest guilty that it was something we had or hadn’t done.

I have every sympathy with your friends, they have a hard road to travel.

Witzend Tue 14-Jul-20 13:11:27

Alzheimer’s is just a form of dementia, but one of the most common. Another common type is vascular dementia, but there are less common types too. My mother had Alzheimer’s., , my FiL had Vas. D, but to be honest there wasn’t much difference in signs or symptoms. There is medication that supposed to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s, but it’s not guaranteed to help.

I’ve never heard of diet making the slightest difference - O would that it could! Fit, healthy people who’ve always done all the right things, get dementia, as well as those who are neither.

Personally I’m more and more convinced that it’s the luck of the draw, and genes.

PinkCakes Tue 14-Jul-20 13:14:33

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, conditions affecting the brain. There are over 200 subtypes of dementia, but the five most common are: Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia and mixed dementia.

Medication can be prescribed to manage some of the symptoms or to slow the progression, but NOT to cure it. There is no evidence to suggest that altering a person's diet will help, although it goes without saying that having a healthy, balanced diet will help with overall PHYSICAL health.

Your friend and her husband have got a rough time ahead, and it will not be easy. The best you can do is to be there to support and comfort them.

Alzheimer's Society on 0333 150 3456 can offer advice.

Granny23 Tue 14-Jul-20 13:16:10

The hard fact is that there is no cure for any of the various types of Dementia. Early prescribing of Donepezil MAY delay deterioration in some people but has little effect for others. I second the advice to contact the Alzheimers Society and to join their on line forum Talking Point .

There are practicalities such as wills and Power of Attorney which should be dealt with promptly while the person still has 'capacity'. Perhaps you could research these things on behalf of your friend. Personally I would not pursue the healthy eating route, as I have never seen any information/research that shows this to be beneficial. Once a person has advanced dementia there are often problems getting them to eat at all, let alone trying to change their dietary habits of a life time. Alao stick to our own NHS and AS web sites for advice/information. Do not delve into the American sites, where poor souls who cannot afford proper medical care, advocate the strangest things (none of which work and some are dangerous) to mitigate the effects of dementia.

polyester57 Tue 14-Jul-20 13:17:16

Thank you all, I have suggested a diet of green vegetables, fish, and nuts. My friend said, we eat all that anyway. I do, so wish that there was something. Has anyone had any luck with food supplements?

MissAdventure Tue 14-Jul-20 13:25:30

I hope you won't be offended, but please don't be the well meaning friend with suggestions on how to beat or treat it.
Having been on the receiving end when my daughter was ill, (not dementia) it is exhausting and upsetting at times, when people keep suggesting things, however well meaning.

No offence meant.

Witzend Tue 14-Jul-20 13:39:58

I do agree with MissAdventure.
Personally I found it pretty infuriating when people with little or no knowledge or personal experience of dementia, sometimes tried to tell me what I ought, or ought not, to be doing.

As regards diet, people with dementia can often become fussier, so it’s often a case of giving them what you know they like, especially given that loss of appetite and weight loss are often a feature of the disease. It’s no use making lovely healthy food if they won’t eat it!

To be frank, the best thing by far you can do for your friend, especially as the disease gets worse, is probably offer to give her a break - sit with her husband while she goes shopping, has her hair done or goes to the cinema, etc.
At any rate, this is what I’d have valued more than anything, when I was up to here at the sharp end.

kittylester Tue 14-Jul-20 13:51:36

I completely agree with Misadventure.

If your friend has been prescribed medication the chances are that there is a diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

Research shows that a change of diet doesn't help apart from keeping the person living with dementia healthy generally.

The Alzheimer's Society are the experts.

TrendyNannie6 Tue 14-Jul-20 13:55:09

Polyester57. No, food supplements won’t make an iota of difference if only it was that simple

Grammaretto Tue 14-Jul-20 14:07:47

I agree MissAdventure. There are well meaning friends who make me feel guilty that we haven't tried all the various remedies, including fungi from Canada, to ward off the cancer - in DH's case.

We have friends whom we only met after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and life was getting touch for her. He was physically very fit and would head off for long walks when the police had to find him and bring him home. He never stopped being friendly and kind, or lost his ability to play the accordion but eventually he had to go into full time care where he died after a year or so. She would accidentally refer to a time "when D was alive" as though she knew she had lost him.

Such a cruel way to go.

I agree with witzend that giving your friend an occasional break would be the best thing you can do and to suggest the Alzheimer society for friendly support. My friend is a volunteer there now.

Illte Tue 14-Jul-20 14:21:08

I second Misadventure too. Well meaning people giving advice based on their own particular beliefs or leanings, rather than medical research, just causes distress.

Actually although it was 20 years ago I can still feel myself getting wound up about it. They really weren't any help at all.

MissAdventure Tue 14-Jul-20 14:27:40

It's strange you should say that, because I feel a bit anxious thinking about all the people who knew someone, who's brother in laws ex wife was cured by (insert miracle)

Oopsadaisy3 Tue 14-Jul-20 14:27:55

Please don’t suggest ‘healthy eating’, my MIL was a very fussy eater all of her life, handfuls of sunflower seeds, fresh fruit and veg, only ate chicken, never ate cakes or biscuits.
After she became ill with vascular dementia all she would eat was chocolate, everything else was put into the bin, even though she had chosen from a menu for the week. If there was no chocolate, she refused to eat.
After she went into the care home she was eating ‘normal ‘ meals, in fact she practically ran (with her walker) to the table, however, she insisted that they were trying to poison her.
It’s a sad road to travel.

SueDonim Tue 14-Jul-20 14:31:35

As a friend of this couple, your position, Polyester is to support them and not try to manage their lives for them.

My Dh and I are about seven years down the road of a similar situation with our closest friends. Always, we’ve done what we can to make their lives easier. Before the disease progressed (our friend is now in care) my Dh would look after him to allow his wife to do things she needed or wanted to do. I try to be a listening ear to my friend, whether to laugh or cry. If she asks my opinion on something or wants information, I’ll help her with that but I’m not going to be making suggestions that are not going to work, which simply heap more pressure on them.

Fwiw, these friends have lived blameless lives, doing all the right things re diet, smoking, alcohol etc but early-onset dementia still set in and changed their hoped-for retirement beyond all recognition.

Illte Tue 14-Jul-20 14:31:39

Ah Misadventure, is it because behind that well meaning advice there's a faint suggestion of "This is your own fault" for not....