I'm very moved by all of these posts and have another aspect to mention which has come as something of a shock. Since my husband died a month ago my daughters have arranged an astonishing number of outings and events for me which have generated a serious amount of photographs. I barely recognise the elderly white haired woman I have become! My age has crept up on me unnoticed while I was caring. I haven't worn a dress for years because we couldn't socialise after John lost his mobility.@maryjoan I really feel for you. I remember we corresponded earlier this year as we were in a similar position. Things have moved on here and my husband is in hospital under section 3 of the mental health act and will be moving to a care home once he is stable. He's only just 62. It's difficult to know when you can't care for someone anymore, but the crunch point came for me at the end of May when a very good friend (someone who had known me for 40 years) told me that I was ill and couldn't go on. She lives more than 300 miles away and used to visit regularly to offer support. We have no family or friends locally as we moved here just before we got married 5 years ago. I knew that I was depressed and anxious, I knew that I couldn't sleep and I knew that I was drinking too much wine, but it took someone else to tell me just how much my mental health was suffering.
In the end I couldn't keep my husband safe, reasonably healthy and happy. He was constantly out of the house talking to strangers, getting too close (and on a couple of occasions being pushed over), he often refused his meds, he hadn't washed at all for about 6 months. He was very confused and anxious, had sudden angry outbursts and couldn't follow conversations. He tended to hit inanimate objects rather than me, but I didn't feel entirely safe. After an incident at the day centre, I was asked by his CPN if I wanted him to have a mental health assessment and I said yes. That resulted in him being sectioned.
Sometimes, I feel guilty because I requested the assessment, but then I remind myself that I was at the point of walking out and there was no-one else to care for him. It was never going to end well. He could have been assaulted or mugged on the street, he could have been seriously hurt. I simply couldn't keep him safe. Now there is a whole team of people giving him his meds covertly, persuading him to wash and looking after his needs. And at the end of their shifts they go home for a well earned rest. That's something that carers never really get.
I know that this isn't my husband's fault and nor is it mine. Dementia is a brutal disease, different in every case and all carers do their best in an impossible and distressing situation. We care out of love and loyalty, but I think that one of the reasons that we often go on caring for too long is because over time we accept and adapt to the way our lives have changed. One of my brothers died in February and I just accepted that I couldn't go to the funeral as I couldn't leave my husband overnight. I accepted the fact that my husband needed to know where I was all the time, that I couldn't work, or visit friends. Our lives have changed beyond recognition over the last 4 years, but it became the "norm." I hope that you are able to find a way out of your situation. There comes a time when we can do no more and someone else, or the state has to step in.
Not too sure how I'm going to deal with all of this but it has given me a lot to think about.