Question: My 66 year old husband has been told by several doctors that he does have some short term memory loss but none has diagnosed him with dementia. He has had a scan done and they said it does not show any shrinkage. He says mean things to me as well. Could this be the beginning of dementia?
Dr. Amy: As we age, a certain amount of memory loss can be considered normal. You might find this article by the Mayo Clinic on memory and aging helpful. But from your letter it seems like something more concerning is going on since you keep taking your husband back to the doctor. A number of conditions or health factors can cause memory loss, so I wonder if you need to take a step back and have a different conversation with the doctor about what might be going on—and what can be done. Has your husband had a thorough physical recently, including blood work? If not, this might something to discuss with your doctor.
Mood change can be a sign of early stage dementia. It can also be a sign of depression, and this is why taking a step back and talking to the doctor about your husband’s overall health might be a good idea.
Are you able to talk to your husband about his behavior? If he has dementia, you may not be entirely successful. But if you feel you can talk to him, focus on your feelings and avoid judging him. Try framing your thoughts in such a way that explain how you feel when he says something mean. As an example, you might say “I feel so sad when you say (such and such). It makes me think that you must really resent me.” Try something like this instead , “You’re so rude!” By keeping the focus on your feelings, you make it easier for him to hear what you have to say.
More and more, I am interested in the power of breathing exercises can have on our wellbeing. One quick way to re-set your mind is to breathe in deeply and slowly, hold your breath for a few seconds then breathe out deeply and slowly. Then repeat. This is a really good way to get rid of negative emotions that his hurtful comments cause you. You can always change the subject or leave the room. But by taking a few deep, cleansing breaths you can expel the hurtful thought from your mind and your body.
Do any readers have experience using their breath to rid their minds of negative thoughts and gain peace of mind?
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