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Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 01/15/09

I am a 72 year old (mostly) Caucasian male (US citizen) living in Japan and taking care  of my 81 year old Japanese wife. She is bedridden from botched spinal operations, serious dizziness, asthma and emphysema. She has had deteriorating leg function since the operations in 1972 and 1975 and has been bedridden since about 2003. I retired in 1999 and have been taking care of her while also doing a little translating and rewriting from home.

Outwardly, her mental function is very good. She remembers far more than I do. The major problem is her temper. When I disagree with her she becomes violent, throwing or striking out with whatever is handy, usually a remote control or wireless extension phone. She grabs me and tries to bite or tear off my glasses, etc. When I retreat to the next room she goes into a rant that is pretty much the same -- basically I am born as a poor migrant and my mother was jealous of her because she is from a wealthy family. Any response from me just makes it worse.

It is absolutely impossible to have a discussion.   Her repetition of all the things she thinks I have done wrong in the last 40+ years reminds me of other older people I have known.

I have short-term memory problems, and forget to do things at times. I also have psoriasis, high blood pressure and am obese, although I have lost 10 pounds or so in the last year with no effort.

Any suggestions

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Name: Roxanna
Location: Champaign, IL
Date: 01/15/2009
Time: 08:48 AM


It is not out of the ordinary for for the care receiver to lash out verbally but throwing things is extreme. Part of it is out of frustration with the situation. Perhaps medication could help with her emotional state. I would talk to her doctor about this.

Location: Ohio, USA
Date: 01/15/2009
Time: 11:20 AM


Keep a small notebook nearby and write down things you need to do. Refer to the notebook at least 1 x per hour- then check off your list as each item is completed. Use a highlighter to mark the really important things like medications, appointments etc. DO this DAILY... Check with your wife's Doctor about medications. Sounds like she needs some anti depressant. also see if there are programs available to have helper come and help with her in your home. Home Health Aides- Does she have family nearby that could come and help ( like nieces or cousins )? Maybe she needs some stimulation like movies or music or books on tape to listen to, that she could enjoy. Have several selections of Music available that you put on when you need to work: explain that when the music is ON that you have work to do in the other room, reassure her that you will check on her every 30 min.( set a timer if you have to but out of her reach). Then do so. As she looks forward to the Music time she might get used to you being out of the room...Please Thank her when she lets you have the time away from her... Also is there some young college students that would be willing to come in and sit with her for 1 hour- they could read to her, get her to help them with homework...Maybe a indoor Garden in a large pot they could work with her, If she is able she could help plant flowers or herbs.? Sounds like she is BORED and wants ATTENTION. Maybe you could have help and rearrange her bedroom- spruce it up a bit with paint or wallpaper. Put her bed closer to the window so she can see out to a Flower Garden or even a couple flower boxes. or just see what's going on outside, seeing how she is bedridden... If you are able to get some HELP in, you could spend that hour out walking to help with your weight loss..Good Luck Hope this helps...

Name: Cecelia
Date: 01/15/2009
Time: 02:28 PM


Hi, I have been a caregiver for 15 years. I am moved by your story and I'd like to offer suggestions that may help. I see you are dealing with several issues. It is already a big challenge merging cultures. As a person ages or becomes very ill they must give up certain things - decision making for example. This is not always a very easy transition and persons may become angry or depressed as a result. Patience and understanding are necessary to cope with challenges such as you face. Many times you may need to agree or give in to avoid conflict. When she brings up the past you may try changing the topic of conversation and redirect her thoughts in a calm way. Confrontation and holding out for your 'rights' may only serve to create more tension and anger between you two. If there are things you know she particularly likes, surprise her occasionally with them. Most of all, take some time for yourself; do something you enjoy so you can regenerate. I do not mean to be preachy, but these tactics have worked for me and I just wanted to share them with you. I do hope that things will improve. Best wishes. Cecelia

Name: Barb
Location: Philly
Date: 01/15/2009
Time: 05:36 PM


Here in Philly, the Philadelphia Corporation assists caregivers; they either provide the personnel, nursing if required or cover the cost of respite care up to a certain amount. Are there agencies to help you? If not, can you afford to have someone come in and help at least with the physical care; you might even be able to find a good aide who will be therapeutic and give you a chance to get a break and do something that you enjoy. You'll come back refreshed and better able to cope. In our school systems we have behavioral psychologists who advise teachers and work with the students to determine the cause of the behavior and suggest positive things to do to help. Our Alzheimers Association has a 24hr. help line and consultations available. Any family members to help. The more people involved the better the chances at suggest. If one suggestion doesn't work try another. Children are very adapt at getting their way and creative; we have to learn from them. If something doesn't work, don't keep trying the same thing.

Name: Penster
Location: U.S.
Date: 01/16/2009
Time: 06:01 AM


Perhaps it is time to place her in a skilled nursing facility that can deal with her issues. You will either have a nervous breakdown or your health will lead to something like a heart attack. I speak from experience. I hope you can find a peaceful solution for yourself.


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