Lost memories and sundowning

Francisco

Registered User
Jul 26, 2020
75
0
My PWD remembers virtually nothing from the last 50 years and therefore is often unaware that the person who cares for her 24/7 is her husband since the 1970s.
When this first became an issue a couple of years ago, I was quite offended and my mission was to enlighten her: wedding and holiday photos, the fact that we had the same surname, title deeds to the house and so on. But I soon found that her level of awareness of her marriage had little to do with rationality. Her condition means that even if I ‘convince’ her that we are married, she will have no memory of that insight a few seconds later.
Sometimes she’ll be surprised but pleased to hear that we were married – but why had I been absent in recent decades? Sometimes, particularly when anxious, she’ll be quite straight-laced, upset at the suggestion that she is married and concerned about what family members would think of us being together. In the evening she will often say, “where do you live?”, and then wonder where I’ll be sleeping. And a short while later will happily have me sleeping beside her. And when we meet strangers, she will routinely introduce me as “my husband”.
This is all very interesting for me but for her it is just one small example of the turmoil and confusion she faces every day.
“Going home” is the basis of daily sundowning beginning at around 4 - 5pm. Most days she wants to visit her parents, brothers and sisters, and aunties and uncles. She thinks her parents must be quite old and wondering where she is, and this causes her great anxiety. Sometimes a local walk can be calming, but the anxiety often resurfaces later in the evening – most exasperatingly for me when she has agreed to stay and had supper in bed. After organising a full-on day of experiences she doesn’t remember, I find having to cope with her agitation, anger, abuse and aggression very challenging. It seems to be worse on the occasions when I’m not giving her my full attention, for example when I’m trying to watch an evening football match on TV – which means I never actually watch a whole match, just recording and then fast-forwarding to catch the goals.
Her sundowning behaviour makes some sense in the context of 50 years of lost memories: consequently she believes she’s much younger than she is, that it’s months not decades since she’s seen her parents, that we’re not married, that the home we share is not her home, and that she can’t wait to get back to her family. After all, no matter how rich and varied are her experiences with me, she doesn’t remember any of it, leading her to believe that her life is a dull and grey nothingness. If only she was back with her family, how much better life would be.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
81,655
0
Kent
I do identify with you @Francisco. My husband`s behaviours were similar to those of your wife in many ways.

I learnt to accept whatever he said but I agree the sundowning, accusations, anger and frustration were most difficult to live with, especially when he wanted to go out to find his real wife.

Looking back, I don`t know how I lived through this but as the dementia progressed, the paranoia began to fade and the behaviours calmed.

I`m unable to give you a timescale because it came so gradually and then another problem developed when my husband began to lose his mobility.

I can only sympathise and hope calmer days are ahead.
 

tonebear

Registered User
Jun 7, 2023
250
0
dorset
My PWD remembers virtually nothing from the last 50 years and therefore is often unaware that the person who cares for her 24/7 is her husband since the 1970s.
When this first became an issue a couple of years ago, I was quite offended and my mission was to enlighten her: wedding and holiday photos, the fact that we had the same surname, title deeds to the house and so on. But I soon found that her level of awareness of her marriage had little to do with rationality. Her condition means that even if I ‘convince’ her that we are married, she will have no memory of that insight a few seconds later.
Sometimes she’ll be surprised but pleased to hear that we were married – but why had I been absent in recent decades? Sometimes, particularly when anxious, she’ll be quite straight-laced, upset at the suggestion that she is married and concerned about what family members would think of us being together. In the evening she will often say, “where do you live?”, and then wonder where I’ll be sleeping. And a short while later will happily have me sleeping beside her. And when we meet strangers, she will routinely introduce me as “my husband”.
This is all very interesting for me but for her it is just one small example of the turmoil and confusion she faces every day.
“Going home” is the basis of daily sundowning beginning at around 4 - 5pm. Most days she wants to visit her parents, brothers and sisters, and aunties and uncles. She thinks her parents must be quite old and wondering where she is, and this causes her great anxiety. Sometimes a local walk can be calming, but the anxiety often resurfaces later in the evening – most exasperatingly for me when she has agreed to stay and had supper in bed. After organising a full-on day of experiences she doesn’t remember, I find having to cope with her agitation, anger, abuse and aggression very challenging. It seems to be worse on the occasions when I’m not giving her my full attention, for example when I’m trying to watch an evening football match on TV – which means I never actually watch a whole match, just recording and then fast-forwarding to catch the goals.
Her sundowning behaviour makes some sense in the context of 50 years of lost memories: consequently she believes she’s much younger than she is, that it’s months not decades since she’s seen her parents, that we’re not married, that the home we share is not her home, and that she can’t wait to get back to her family. After all, no matter how rich and varied are her experiences with me, she doesn’t remember any of it, leading her to believe that her life is a dull and grey nothingness. If only she was back with her family, how much better life would be.
Hi Francisco, just your thread and the frist bit about your marrage and who you are and the house could be me talking it is so exact. My piglet thinks we are in a rent holiday home and worries about keping itclean for the next people. ( we have lived here for 40yrs. As you say it is absolutely pointless proving we are married or this is our home , it doesn't go in, I have just learnt to roll with it and not correct, what's the point,. Very fortunately for me i don't get the sundowning bit, at least not yet. Good luck and hang in there.
 

leny connery

Registered User
Nov 13, 2022
341
0
My PWD remembers virtually nothing from the last 50 years and therefore is often unaware that the person who cares for her 24/7 is her husband since the 1970s.
When this first became an issue a couple of years ago, I was quite offended and my mission was to enlighten her: wedding and holiday photos, the fact that we had the same surname, title deeds to the house and so on. But I soon found that her level of awareness of her marriage had little to do with rationality. Her condition means that even if I ‘convince’ her that we are married, she will have no memory of that insight a few seconds later.
Sometimes she’ll be surprised but pleased to hear that we were married – but why had I been absent in recent decades? Sometimes, particularly when anxious, she’ll be quite straight-laced, upset at the suggestion that she is married and concerned about what family members would think of us being together. In the evening she will often say, “where do you live?”, and then wonder where I’ll be sleeping. And a short while later will happily have me sleeping beside her. And when we meet strangers, she will routinely introduce me as “my husband”.
This is all very interesting for me but for her it is just one small example of the turmoil and confusion she faces every day.
“Going home” is the basis of daily sundowning beginning at around 4 - 5pm. Most days she wants to visit her parents, brothers and sisters, and aunties and uncles. She thinks her parents must be quite old and wondering where she is, and this causes her great anxiety. Sometimes a local walk can be calming, but the anxiety often resurfaces later in the evening – most exasperatingly for me when she has agreed to stay and had supper in bed. After organising a full-on day of experiences she doesn’t remember, I find having to cope with her agitation, anger, abuse and aggression very challenging. It seems to be worse on the occasions when I’m not giving her my full attention, for example when I’m trying to watch an evening football match on TV – which means I never actually watch a whole match, just recording and then fast-forwarding to catch the goals.
Her sundowning behaviour makes some sense in the context of 50 years of lost memories: consequently she believes she’s much younger than she is, that it’s months not decades since she’s seen her parents, that we’re not married, that the home we share is not her home, and that she can’t wait to get back to her family. After all, no matter how rich and varied are her experiences with me, she doesn’t remember any of it, leading her to believe that her life is a dull and grey nothingness. If only she was back with her family, how much better life would be.
 

leny connery

Registered User
Nov 13, 2022
341
0
same here. with us it is not just sundown. I am his 'mum' half ot the time , night and day. still battle to 'get him back'. Futile as it is and exhausting..
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
25,048
0
South coast
Her sundowning behaviour makes some sense in the context of 50 years of lost memories: consequently she believes she’s much younger than she is, that it’s months not decades since she’s seen her parents, that we’re not married, that the home we share is not her home, and that she can’t wait to get back to her family. After all, no matter how rich and varied are her experiences with me, she doesn’t remember any of it, leading her to believe that her life is a dull and grey nothingness. If only she was back with her family, how much better life would be.
Im afraid that you have summed up the situation only too well
It is all so sad
💙
 

Collywobbles

Registered User
Feb 27, 2018
145
0
I feel for you. I phone my parents every evening for a chat. When I ask my Mum how she feels, she always tells me she’s bored and has just been sitting in her chair watching TV all day. My poor Dad tries to take her out every day when the weather’s decent, both to keep her mobile and encourage her to eat (she often turns down food at home but is more likely to accept it in a cafe or restaurant). But if Mum had been to tea with the King, she’d still tell me she’d done nothing and was just “vegetating”. She very much lives in the moment now her short-term memory has gone.

Sending you best wishes.
 

leny connery

Registered User
Nov 13, 2022
341
0
I too try taking mine out and 'see life outside' and have a bit of exercise and fresh air.Every day, weather permitting. None of it is remembered.
 

Francisco

Registered User
Jul 26, 2020
75
0
I do identify with you @Francisco. My husband`s behaviours were similar to those of your wife in many ways.

I learnt to accept whatever he said but I agree the sundowning, accusations, anger and frustration were most difficult to live with, especially when he wanted to go out to find his real wife.

Looking back, I don`t know how I lived through this but as the dementia progressed, the paranoia began to fade and the behaviours calmed.

I`m unable to give you a timescale because it came so gradually and then another problem developed when my husband began to lose his mobility.

I can only sympathise and hope calmer days are ahead.
Thanks for this, giving me hope that the 'walking on egg-shells" days won't last for ever: the finger stabbing, the thumps on the chest, the verbal abuse (e.g., you rat, you swine), the screams, and the thunderous door slamming are extremely stressful. And then, the other day, a very surprising and heart-melting moment of insight: "I know I've misbehaved, don't give up on me"
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
81,655
0
Kent
Thanks for this, giving me hope that the 'walking on egg-shells" days won't last for ever: the finger stabbing, the thumps on the chest, the verbal abuse (e.g., you rat, you swine), the screams, and the thunderous door slamming are extremely stressful. And then, the other day, a very surprising and heart-melting moment of insight: "I know I've misbehaved, don't give up on me"

Yes these moments of insights are endearing and help us realise what a complex condition this is.
 

MikeFB

Registered User
Sep 26, 2022
30
0
I just couldn't resist adding to the sentiments already expressed - and knowing that we are not alone in our grief. At 91 years of age and having been married to my OH for over 67 years I can identify with everything that you say - the personal abuse, denials and living in the distant past. Suffice it to say that whilst there is nothing one can do to combat these imaginings one has to smile at the occasional rare remark eg. having spent the best part of yesterday at the GP's surgery followed by the Hospital and more tests and examinations my OH finally retired commenting " well that was a nice day - did you also enjoy it ? " NO COMMENT
 

Staff online

Forum statistics

Threads
138,708
Messages
1,998,997
Members
90,480
Latest member
Nattycatnewforest