“My Wife is Having an Affair”
When Russ called my CarePatrol office, he was in tears. His daughter had given him my name, and told him I could help him with the problems he was experiencing. He got straight to the point. His wife was having an affair and he needed my help to sort it out. I asked him how he found out about the affair, and he said the evidence was everywhere. His wife had placed pictures of herself with another man in the living room, on the fridge, and on the computer screen saver. I immediately told him I understood his concern, and that we would figure out how to deal with it together. We scheduled an appointment for the next day.
As we age, many seniors find it difficult to maintain cognitive function. For some seniors with dementia, this can lead to confusion, disorientation and in some cases paranoia. In Russel’s case, he was looking at pictures of his wife, and no longer recognized himself in the images. She was having an affair with the older version of himself. The more Ann tried to reassure him that there was no one else in her life, the more suspicious, agitated and paranoid he became - all symptoms of dementia.
Dementia manifests itself in many ways, and not all seniors experience the same symptoms. Rus has delusions. His wife was having an affair. His caregiver was a promiscuous neighbor girl constantly trying to take off his pants and get him in the shower. Strangers were trying to steal his car and his life savings. I’m still not sure if the last one is a delusion or real phone scammers!
This was a difficult emotional journey for the entire family. The first observation was that the more the family tried to correct Russel’s concerns, the more agitated he became. I suggested that they allow him to live in his own reality. The next step was the therapeutic lie. We were all going to help him put a plan in place to get his wife back, secure his money, and stop the neighbor girl from hitting on him. We also scheduled a neurologist and primary care visit to get a proper diagnosis of his condition. I suggested a support group for the family. This would provide a safe place for them to share their experiences and offer support to each other. I gave Ann some pointers on how to remain patient and understanding when Russ acted up, and this made him feel more secure. We also replaced the pictures in the home with images from their past when Russ still recognized himself. Russ thanked me for ending the affair and saving his marriage.
Our goal was to keep the couple together. This could no longer be done in the home without sacrificing Ann’s quality of life. With the help of a skilled team at an assisted living / memory care, Russ and Ann have downsized into a community that is giving Russ the daily cognitive help he needs while giving Ann the independence and socialization she needs to maintain her health. Medication management and daily programming have reduced the delusions, and Russ no longer mentions the “affair.” I am adding marriage counselor to my resume!
At CarePatrol, our job is to help you navigate these situations and to find the solution best suited for your family. We understand what you are going through, and no one is better at helping seniors and their families deal with the realities of aging than CarePatrol.
If you need help finding care for a senior, please give us a call. Our services are free and we are here to help.
You can reach Eric Klein, CSA, BCPA, CPRS at 847-653-1213.