January 28, 2019

"If I am unlucky enough to get Alzheimer's, and lucky enough to have my wife take care of me, feed me, clothe me, and clean me, I'm going to go ahead right now and..."

"... give her permission to have a boyfriend, two of them if she wants. It's a debilitating disease for the person that has it, as well as for the family members that love them."

Says the second-most-liked comment on "Lifestyle guru B. Smith has Alzheimer’s. Her husband has a girlfriend. Her fans aren’t having it" (WaPo).

The third-most-like comment:
Alzheimer's can take *years* of misery before the patient is released. Is another human being supposed to put all life on hold while that happens? The person you married is gone where you cannot follow. The body remains but everything else is like another person is living in there, one you do not know. Dan is caring for that person but he needs to take care of himself as well. If Alex helps him with that, more power to them both.
Pair this story with "Are You My Husband?," blogged a few days ago in, "What does it mean to grieve someone who is alive, but who walks, talks, thinks, acts and looks different from before?"

61 comments:

rhhardin said...

RBG's husband had an Alzheimer's girlfriend, as I recall.

Ann Althouse said...

O'Connor.

Mark O said...

If I am unlucky enough to get Alzheimer's, I hope I'm lucky enough to have friends with drawers full of percocet and sense enough to administer them to me.

Please.

Nonapod said...

I guess "in sickness and in health" and "'till death do us part" is just too much to ask of many modern folks.

tim in vermont said...

Um yeah. If I have Alzheimer’s and it’s anything like the cases I have seen, not only can she have a boyfriend, but they are welcome to plot to kill me.

Shouting Thomas said...

We're talking about old people here.

Bodies are no longer pretty or tight.

Getting up enthusiasm for trysting is much more difficult.

LCB said...

Um yeah. If I have Alzheimer’s and it’s anything like the cases I have seen, not only can she have a boyfriend, but they are welcome to plot to kill me. AMEN!!!

tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rehajm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rehajm said...

the idea of…intercourse – firm, young…body…commingling with…withered flesh…sagging breasts…flabby b-b-buttocks…makes me want…to vomit.

-Priest

tcrosse said...

Being the caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's does not immunize you against having it yourself.

john said...

When I get Altzheimer's I want my wife to move me to 10 acres in the Hamptons with a gate so I can't wander off. After all, I have done my best to relieve her of the guilt she must feel in caring for me

Her boyfriends could help with the move. It's the least they could do.

Unknown said...

Ah yes... today's marriages: "In sickness and in health, or at least until it would inconvenience me some. Then I'll get some booty on the side, no harm no foul!"

The best part about cheating on your Alzheimer's spouse? If she catches you in the act, she'll forget about it by tomorrow! hyuk, hyuk, hyuk! Bill Clinton's dream come true!

Fidelity... a dirty word nowadays.

--Vance

Birches said...

O'Connor's situation is completely different. He wasn't the caregiver. Just last night I read about a leader of my Church caring for his wife with dementia. He talked about how they sing children's songs together and sometimes she can remember the words, but sometimes he's the only one singing. It was beautiful. That's honoring vows.

cubanbob said...

All joking aside, this the reason to have as much in long term care coverage as you can afford.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Is another human being supposed to put all life on hold while that happens?

I'm not married, so I don't know myself, but isn't that the whole "for better or for worse" part? Like, isn't not "for better or for worse, unless the worse causes you to put all life on hold while dealing with it, in which case you don't have to forsake all others" is it? Or is that part just implied?

stevew said...

That's between her and her husband, her fans can have an opinion about that, but don't get a say.

Birches said...

BTW, I thought what Sandra Day O'Connor did when faced with her husband's new girlfriend was correct for their circumstances.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Sidenote: if people just kept their lives to themselves this wouldn't really be an issue, would it? Everyone's gotta "live out loud" and publicize every part of their "private" life. Shut the fuck up and keep your personal life personal, to yourself, at which point no one will be able to say shit about shit.

Leland said...

The person you married is gone where you cannot follow.

Hence the difference between marriage as a religious ceremony versus one that is matter of civics. There's a difference between caring for Alzheimer/Dementia, marriage, and ability for the healthy to continue normal social behavior. There's a lot of options other than
euthanasia and infidelity. Sadly, communal social welfare has caused our society to consider favorably the dumping of family members when they no longer serve a purpose to the family. It used to be purpose of family and strong family bonds to provide care, because you couldn't, shouldn't, trust society to have any more interest than your family in your wellbeing.

Unknown said...

Interesting perspectives. I've already given my husband permission to lie to me should I start forgetting stuff. He's welcome to be as imaginative as he likes. "Why, yes, honey, that is you on Mt. Everest; I took the picture."

chuck said...

I've known the spouses of people dying of cancer to take up an outside relationship. If we all lived in extended families such situations might be easier to deal with, but the nuclear family doesn't offer that much support when one of the pair goes down.

bagoh20 said...

In addition to me accepting her pursuit of other companionship, I would wish to be put in a nursing home where she is not constantly burdened by my needs. I would hope for some visits, but life for me in a nursing home would not differ much from one at home, and at least the caretakers are young, strong, professional, paid, and well equipped. The last thing I would want is to put the person I love through that work, worry, and confinement in her golden years. Enjoy the rest of your life, because I can't with you and, and I love you.

Bay Area Guy said...

I think a Betty White sex robot may do the trick here.

tim in vermont said...

Alzheimer’s can be cute for a while, as the victim regresses into childhood, you can still share those memories, but once they are gone...

Fernandistein said...

What was I going to write ...?

lpratsch@verizon.net said...
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Phidippus said...

If I am unlucky enough to get Altzheimer's, I hope I am lucky enough to remember in time that I have a .45 in the night table.

Kelly said...

My dad moved in with me in October and did a deep slide into dementia almost overnight. It’s a full time job if you aren’t lucky enough to have full time help. I barely had time for my family much less for several boyfriends. I had an aide twice a week for showers and a nurse came once a week to take vitals. I was looking at nursing homes which was wrenching and wasn’t sure I could put him in one. Dad died in his sleep two weeks ago. Truly a blessing for him and I’m not going to lie, I’m thankful I don’t have to make the decision about a nursing home now.

BUMBLE BEE said...

Wasn't the Smothers Brothers schtick "as long as it's groovy"?
rehajm... Harold and Maude... great movie!

gilbar said...

seems like it's time for a pointless and tasteless joke (that has NOTHING to do with Altzheimers)

i want to die peacefully in my sleep; like my Grandfather
not Screaming in Terror; like his passengers

Jamie said...

We haven't had to face this challenge yet with any of our parents, but my husband's grandmother died with Alzheimer's some years ago (not sure if she died OF Alzheimer's or of something else, but she was deep in dementia by the time she passed), and I found his experience enlightening. His family avoids all the things that mark age and death. He'd never been to a funeral until after we were married, and when we sat at the deathbed of his great-uncle, he found it strange and uncomfortable. But he'd been very close with this grandmother growing up, and when his mom urged him to avoid seeing her "so you can remember her the way she used to be," he couldn't take her advice. We lived an airplane trip away, so he didn't get to make regular visits, but he made sure to visit her when we were in the area.

He said that although she didn't remember him, she was still herself - he could still recognize her, even though she couldn't recognize him. (This is what makes me think it was something else that actually did for her; I understand that when Alzheimer's is at its worst, the person can be entirely unrecognizable.)

He's welcome to have a girlfriend if he has to care for me; but I don't think he will. Whatever other qualities he has, he is two things: faithful, and stubborn.

rich hahn said...

I recommend Dr Bredesen's book "The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline" to everyone.

Renee said...

Um no.... My father in law has had this condition now for over a decade, that right, a decade. My mother in law is very much still married to him. He's very much alive, and not dead.

If I had this condition, the moment my husband has 'a girlfriend', he no longer has my best interest in terms of medical decision making.

Anyways who would want to date a person who abandons their spouse in this condition.

Maybe it's personal and raw, but you're kinds of a d-bag if you think this is ok.

mockturtle said...

I took my wedding vows seriously.

mccullough said...

These people all cheated before. Why stop

Renee said...

Anyone who thinks it is ok to 'dump' one's spouse at a nursing home, so you can have a companion. Well guess what... it's a horrible thing to do. You are doing it out love, you're doing out of selfishness.

Nursing homes are not suppose to be places to dump a spouse you no longer have any use for. Nursing homes are for care. True, not one person can be a one on one care taker. But the purpose of that care, isn't for you to abandon your spouse.

Yes, you are a horrible person, if you think having a boyfriend/girlfriend is ok
Not sorry.

Merny11 said...

My Mother died after Alzheimer’s stretched on for too many years. My sister has been suffering from it for six years. My brother in law tried to be her caregiver but finally had to put her in a nursing home. After each visit I leave depressed by the sadness and futility of the residents lives. I’ve told my kids to please please overdose me when inevitably start showing signs of the disease. My great fear is that they won’t do it.

John Scott said...

And then there was the case of a husband being accused of rape when he had sex with his willing, but Alzheimer's inflicted wife. The state claimed that the wife was in no capacity to give consent. Luckily, the case was dropped before going to trial.

FullMoon said...
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FullMoon said...

I’ve told my kids to please please overdose me when inevitably start showing signs of the disease. My great fear is that they won’t do it.

Unfortunately,they could be arrested.

Renee said...

Murder isn't the answer here people. And well, it's a horrible idea, and do let your mind go there. Ever.

We're not going to find a cure/treatment, if people just want to kill off their family members because well...

Again I admit I'm raw, here since my family is going through it.

MadisonMan said...

For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, 'til the end of our days.

Now, you can argue that 'the end of our days' ends before death with an Alzheimer's patient, but that seems just too convenient.

chillblaine said...

I could take the easy, high moral ground here, and just say, like Nonapod has, that a person takes wedding vows, before G-d, and before witnesses. Yes it's a hack, but think about what it would mean to come out on the other side, untarnished.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

linguistically, re: familienname, any similarities vis a vis Althouse/Alzheimer?

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

imagine if Hitler had lived out his days in an old folks home with Alzheimer's,
despondent that he was treated like some kind of war criminal/genocidal maniac.

bagoh20 said...

It's also selfish to want your loved one to hang around lonely and confined while you are essentially no longer there as the person she knew and loved. Someone needs to be selfish. I don't want it to be either one of us, but that's not an option. It would only make me sad to know I robbed her of precious years when I had no way of sharing them with her. Unfortunately, in reality guilt would stop a good woman from doing as I ask, and I know mine would not listen to me.

Maybe as soon as I feel the dementia coming on I'll find me a young hottie and break my loved one loose. Then one or the other will put me in the nursing home or the grave. You gotta know how to motivate people.

mandrewa said...
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mandrewa said...

A recent study reported that something like 93% of people who die of Alzheimer's have Porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria living in their brain.

Experimental mice infected with Porphyromonas gingivalis develop symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease.

About 25% of the population is infected with Porphyromonas gingivalis but that doesn't mean they all have it in their brains.

Karen of Texas said...

"Your brain might forget, but your heart will not."

That's what I told my mom when she was trying to come to grips with the reality that she was forgetting. That is the worst - when they know what is happening. She spent all her remaining days at my brother's home.

You think you know what you will do and that you know what you will want - until you're actually in the midst of living it. You have no idea until you experience it with a loved one.

Sacto_Dave said...

My brother in law bravely cared for his wife, my sister in law, shen she had Alzheimers. It killed him. He died within a year ofnher death. It literally sapped his strength caring for her 24/7/365. I’m not a fan of this idea but the idea of taking on the whole burden is a killer.

William said...

What's more depressing: visiting a lived one in a hospice or in a nursing home? If you live long enough and reach the far shore, there are lots of bleak events. It's like living in a Bronte novel where every twenty or thirty pages someone gets a lingering illness or suddenly dies. Old age is the season of dimuendos and death. I'm not real pleased about it, but I can bear with it when it happens to other people. In the not too distant future, it will be my turn at bat, and I will get to look at the bedside visitors with uncomprehending eyes.. I've got a pretty good shot at Alzheimer's, but I'm hoping for COPD. It's like chronic drowning, but, looking on the bright side, it beats Alzheimer's.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

FWIW
very low doses of elemental lithium, along with natural colostrum-derived proline-rich polypeptide has been shown to halt Alzheimer's progression.
Lithium acts by inhibiting the destructive GSK-3enzyme, which cause abnormal tau proteins to form toxic neurofibrillary tangles, which destroy brain cells and impair memory.
Proline-rich polypeptide inhibits expression of genes involved in the production of beta amyloid and the abnormal expression of tau proteins, both of which contribute to neuronal destruction.

PB said...

I just finished taking care of my mother as she went through it. I put my career on hold for her, maybe killed it, and I don't regret it. but I want a bullet through my brain if Alzheimers comes for me.

Stephen Cooper said...

On the bright side, most people seem to like their children a lot more than they like their parents, and Alzheimer's does not attack our children.

There is always a bright side!

Children who take care of ailing parents are the closest things we have to angels on this earth.

Michael McNeil said...

Before folks get too enthusiastic about putting either themselves or their partners out of their misery as a result of Alzheimer's, note that there are indications now that the disease may be curable — with memories restored.

Caligula said...

"In addition to me accepting her pursuit of other companionship, I would wish to be put in a nursing home where she is not constantly burdened by my needs."

Keep in mind that nursing homes are not inexpensive. And, although MedicAid will pay for a nursing home, MediCare will not.

In short, keeping you in a nursing home would still probably be a burden, just a burden of a different sort.

The irony is that this is one of the few areas where the state still retains in interest in promoting marriage: because spouses are usually financially responsible for one another's medical care but non-spouses mostly are not.

Rae said...

My father and I took care of my mother for the last four years of her life. She was in a wheelchair and had dementia. On good days she was pretty much herself, mentally. On bad days she would forgot who we were.

I was never more close to my mother when she passed, and I will always admire my father for staying true to his vows.

tim in vermont said...

Blogger Karen of Texas said...
"Your brain might forget, but your heart will not."


That sure *sounds* lovely.

My comment stands. If I am around one day, gone the next, then back again, that’s different than the Alzheimer’s I’ve seen. There is a time to pack it up. Why suck up good life looking after life that is gone? It’s stupid and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. You want to go visit your mother and have her not recognize you, angry at you because she is frustrated because she can’t work a spoon? You go ahead, but I promise I ain’t judging anybody who does not want to look after me in that state. Visit me once a month if that soothes your conscience.

Farmer said...

Is another human being supposed to put all life on hold while that happens?

Yes.

That's why lifetime vows shouldn't be entered into lightly.

newton said...

"Children who take care of ailing parents are the closest things we have to angels on this earth."

No kidding. One of my good friends took good care of both her parents in their declining years. At her home. Her father had heart ailments and diabetes. Her mother, Alzheimer's. The fact that her mom received so many attentions from her husband, even though he himself was ailing, made my cry many times I visited them. They took their marriage vows at a church in Mexico well over sixty years ago. "En la salud y en la enfermedad" ("In sickness and in health"). He took it very seriously, indeed.

In one month, after four years of care, the end came. He had a heart attack or two and had the chance to say his goodbyes. He died at the hospital. She was already declining because Alzheimer's is that great of a thief. Three weeks later, she was breathing heavily in her bed. Then, her daughter and another friend watched as she opened her eyes wide - and then she was gone. I still believe her husband returned to her room to escort her to the Heavenly realms. He could not bear to see her leaving this world alone. They were that together. She died right before Mother's Day. They were married for almost sixty years.

Their daughter took care of both. It drained her. It depressed her. She is doing better now, after treatment and some adjustments. Her husband has been for her the entire time. The family now knows it is hereditary. She changed her cooking and spices to fit her futre and that of her school-age children. She does fundraising for Alzheimer's research. She is a trained nurse, but I truly believe she was trained by angels. I'm sure her husband thinks so, too.

That's why stories like the one above infuriate me. You took solemn vows. You don't give them up when she goes bonkers and her brain is gone. You didn't just marry her brain. You married the whole package, warts and all. I took those vows almost twenty-four years ago with my husband. I expect for him to do the same. So far, so good.

Also - and I hate to bring this up, because it is a point of contention... Nice to see the girlfriend spending her days at the Hamptons estate, knowing for a fact that many an African-American woman would go full-Madea (Tyler Perry's comedy) into her man if he ever shows up smooching with a white woman. If this woman still had her full faculties and saw this, don't you think the marriage would be so over in a New York minute? The people commenting on the WP, saying "Who am I to judge?" don't know... They don't know...