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Update - Carers UK Forum


Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
I am struggling to care for my much husband still but here is an update.

I made a dental appointment because my husbands breath really does smell. He cancelled it due to a heavy cold but it has been re made for end March.

I have been trying to write a letter to his GP outlining my concerns re his short term memory loss but have found out his GP has emigrated - he does have a new named GP but we have not met her.

I did discuss the food and digestion problems with the dietician. He really will not eat 'normal' good and it took me 3 days to get him to have a sliced beef sandwich and then he left most of it! He is on 5 or 6 Fortisips drinks a day. The digestion problems seem to be better because he is now on the fibre ones. But his weight has gone down to 8st 7 from 9st in the last couple of weeks. This does surprise me as he is not very active and seems to be having around 1500-1800 calories via the drinks plus also he has milk in his coffee.

I have not gone for the Carers Assessment as I think given the level of his private pension we would have to pay for help and he is very difficult so I do not think he would do this at this stage.

We did a cat show and I did get to discuss with my friend who drove us my worries. She totally agreed re the bad breath so at least I know I am not imaganing it. I know he is swigging the mouthwash but do not think he is doing his teeth despite a new toothbrush and prompting.

On a lighter note, we have joined the local Rotary. Husband very quiet but at the moment he will come with me.

He does say he feels 'yucky'but won't clarify how exactly.....this brings back memories of the last few months with my father, who kept saying he felt 'poorly'. He spends most of the time on the sofa dozing or attached to his headphones watching TV. I have chased the Dermo and now have blood tests booked next week and an appointment the week after.

Any suggestions? I am coping ...just but it is very hard. Leaving is not an option as I have my cats and at the moment, husband is not being that difficult apart from the not eating properly and not doing his teeth. When his weight went down and I mentioned it - I try to weigh him twice a week he said that I would soon be rid of him! I have tried to get him to help tidy his office of his junk but he keeps saying that I can get rid of his things when he has gone. I do wonder if he has given up and no longer wants to live? He does seem in a lot of pain with his back still. I will mention the weight loss to the blood test nurse and will keep monitoring it as if he is having the calories and losing weight, then something is going on re the absorbtion.

Thanks for reading - I do know in some ways I am lucky having friends and this ring has been a huge help.
Helena, it all sounds very 'trying'.....

With the new GP, you know, that might be a good thing! Often when we change GPs we get someone with new interest, bringing new insights, and keen on new approaches and treatments. You never know, that might do wonders for your husband? (And she MUST take on board the impact of his poor health and care-needs on YOU)

With the weight loss, I don't wish to alarm you, but 'unexplained' weight loss is one of the symptoms of cancer (I believe the theory is that the tumour is hungrily consuming all the calories, stopping the 'host' body from getting enough). I would most certainly mention it to the new GP, who can have him checked out. Many apologies if that is 'scare-mongering' - I certainly don't intend it to be, but it has to be considered as a possibility, sadly, for all of us these days. (I'm a cancer widow, discovered far too late, alas, so I am a bit 'driven' about symptoms!)

Re the toothwashing - I'm wondering whether, if he is now going to Rotary meetings, you could use that as an incentive? Nothing like someone fearing they have bad breath in public! However, maybe that would disincentivise him from going along??

I'm glad you've got your cats as your 'off-duty' relaxation. They are very calming, aren't they, as they take life so easy themselves. (Mine is currently taking life VERY easy in the linen cupboard, on top of a catrug I've put on top of the spare duvet. He loves it in there, and like a big softie I let him - just like I let him walk over my own duvet, the cover freshly changed yesterday, in muddy paws when he came in through the bedroom window. It WOULD be the freshly changed duvet cover, wouldn't it!)(He can't see why I'm making a fuss about it....)
Yes Jenny, Cancer, followed by kidney disease were my main worries - took care of several older cats with cancer and although they ate and were hand fed and syringed by me, the weight loss when down and down - in one case this was when blood tests were 'normal' but vet and I agreed something was wrong. It is also difficult because I had similar lack of interest in food from my father and he seemed to lose the will to live.

Plan is to get blood tests done and then discuss with dermo mentioning the weight loss. We do struggle on and then if husband really feels ill, he will either phone 111 (who usually tell him to see his GP) or let me make an appointment. But I will monitor the weight loss as I see him drink the Fortisips so know he is taking them.

Yes sadly if I mention the breath thing he will not go to the Rotary. But we are seeing the dentist. I have tried to tactfully ask if his gums hurt to see if that is why the dental hygiene has gone downhill.

I do want to get some reselution as hope to let my champion Valentina go to my friends stud in the next couple of months and it is going to be a challenge dealing with a pregnant girl and a litter of kittens and my husband! With breeding, it is really is 'now or never' or will be risking my girls health and cannot do this.

Thanks for replying - do need to offload occasionally. My GP is at a different surgery to my husbands but I can see him as he did understand a lot of what was going in when I wrote to him when my father was going downhill. I cannot really see what Social Services can do at the moment frankly, but we may well need their involvement if he continues to go downhill.I think there is a physical cause for the weight loss so yes, I probably do need to press the new GP when we go to see her.

I do feel if this continues, we will have some sort of crisis and it will be taken out of my hands.
But his weight has gone down to 8st 7 from 9st in the last couple of weeks. This does surprise me as he is not very active and seems to be having around 1500-1800 calories via the drinks plus also he has milk in his coffee.
His weight loss is probably nothing more serious than not eating enough - normally a man needs around 2000-2500 (a woman needs 1500-1800) calories a day to maintain weight - anything less than that will result in a weight loss. If he needed to lose weight (which at 9st he obviously didn't) his dietitian would be recommending an intake of 1500-1800 calories per day.
Susie, good point - hope that is so!

Helena - hope the new GP can improve matters, and the dentist too! Maybe your husband simply doesn't like being 'mucked about with', and it does sound as if he is edging into a kind of depression and 'loss of anything much to live for' which is very sad, but hard to know how to tackle. Feeling 'ill' won't cheer him up, but then on the other hand, if he could take more of an interest and find some enthusiasm for something, he might not feel so ill? Bit of a vicious cycle. I can see, though, that you are worried about the same 'patterns' developing as happened with your father. The awful thing is, none of us can see the future, and in a way, that means we can 'make it up' both in an optimistic direction, or the opposite. In the end, things will be as they will, so please don't beat yourself up over your husband's situation. You are doing what you can to support him and help him, whilst necessarily guarding your own wellbeing as well, which is essential.

How exciting that you are planning on being a 'granny' (!) to a litter of kittens. How enchanting! :) I hope Valentina enjoys her 'romance' (!) - does she get to affect any choice? ie, if she doesn't fancy her swain, can she pick another one? (and I guess vice versa!!!) (My sole knowledge of cat romances dates back to when I was a student, looking out of my window into the garden below of the landlady's house, and Miss Cat was lying on the grass, looking VERY seductive, flicking her plumy tail like an enticing fan, most definitely giving the 'come on' to a handsome Tom, who pranced up to her with a glint in his eye - only to get sideswiped very smartly by Miss Cat who then dived under a bush, leaving poor Tom looking very what the HELL?!)(hopefully they got it together later on when she stopped playing hard to get!)

(My sole knowledge of kittens comes from my childhood when my mother found our pregnant little farm cat 'nesting' inside a rolled up rug in the spare room, so brought her down carefully to her pre-arranged cat basket in the warm kitchen, watched her give birth safely, then went to bed - to come down in the morning to find Mummy Cat had removed ALL her kittens back up to the rolled up rug.....guess you can't make a cat do what it doesn't want to do. That cat wanted the rolled up rug, that's what she got!)
Jenny, I guess I 'aspire' to breed the perfect Norwegian Forest Cat kitten! So I look for type, healthy pedigree, coat quality and temperment in the stud plus a good pedigree. The guy chosen is lovely and belongs to a close friend so he will hopefully visit Sparkle - my cats do not do 'stud' pens so I am lucky that Sue will bring the male to us and then we wait and pray! So poor Sparkle will rather go into 'an arranged marriage'!. I also have someone lined up for Athena too but frankly want to delay this at the moment with so much going on. The stud's temperment does affect the kittens temperment so that is very important to me. Sparkle is a lovely cat and she and her brother and neutered sister were probably my best litter ever so very excited. I just hope for a small litter though as could not keep 6.

I really hope you are right SusieQ - I guess it is the speed of the weight loss that concerns me as when we spoke to the Dietican just over 2 weeks ago, he was over 9st and has been on a diet of Fortisips for around a year - depending on them more and more as he has so little interest in normal food. It took me over a week with the beef sandwich despite me buying fresh bread. Off for lunch and he may well leave his steak but if he does, Teddy my poorly cat, will do well. Also he is very inactive and just dozes and reads and watches TV most of the day so frankly not sure he would need more than around 1500/1800 calories a day. Have tried with bananas and raisons and nuts.....

Have you tried unhealthy food? My mum seemed to survive largely on a diet of Mr. Kipling's individual cakes. She had all sorts of problems, including a hiatus hernia, but her fridge was always stacked with these cakes. (Yes, I know they don't need to be refrigerated, but that was where she wanted them. OCD again!) What about his favourite chocolate?
I would also be worried about that weight, and speed of weight loss, for any man. I'd be temped to ask the GP to refer him for a scan. Could you afford to have this done privately if he won't order one on the NHS? Might be worth having it done to put your mind at rest?
Thanks BB - do not think I could get husband to go for a private scan and would struggle as it would not be just the scan cost but the taxi cost. He has had scans in the past though as they were worried about the aneamia and wanted to rule out internal bleeding. But I will monitor and mention to the Dermo but really I need the blood test results first.

We had lunch out yesterday and sadly he ate very little saying that he has problems swallowing and chewing - this is a 'new' thing as he says he was gagging. I did try to discuss this with him as it is his favourite restaurant, and until recently he always ate well there, but he says it has been going on a while but he did not tell me.

Yes, I happily let him eat whatever he wants and in the days when he asked for ice cream would go and get it for the corner shop. He has just lost interest in food. My friend came with us and she agreed he is confused so I am honestly not imaganing things.

Just going to take it day by day as blood test and dermo booked.
((((Hugs))) Helena, I can feel your disappointment that even his favourite restaurant wouldn't entice him to eat. I'm all out of ideas at he moment. This is the last thing you needed after all the problems with dad so recently.
Try to be kind to yourself.
Stud pens sound horrid (surely no self-respecting feline would tolerate such a thing?!). And I hope you do your bit to foster romance at home with the visiting swain.

I have visions of the scene in Lady and the Tramp when they eat spaghetti together - or perhaps, rather in Aristocats, when they twined their tails into a heartshape.

(I know, I know, it's probably a lot less 'romantic' than that, and probably involves some unlovely-to-human-ears caterwauls....:)