Wife is mentally ill and alcoholic
Please can I have advice about where I can turn to for help. I am 67 and my wife is 61. She is an alcoholic and matters have reached a point where she is so bad that I can't keep looking after her. She has reached a blood alcohol level of over .4 (NOT .04) several times. She has been to one clinic after another and while she is there she's fine but as soon as she comes home she starts drinking again. I am in despair because I can't stop her drinking (she buys the stuff herself and starts screaming and crying uncontrollably if I try to take it away), can't force her to eat (she is thin and weak), can't do much to help if she falls on the floor as she has often done, can't persuade her to take any exercise. She is often in bed sleeping or crying for most of the day. She also has severe depression and irrational thinking.
My doctor says the only thing I can do is to wait until next time she is taken to hospital and then refuse to accept her discharge to home. He says the hospital will then get a team of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to find care for her. But what if she dies? I love my wife dearly. I don't want to separate from her and she would quite possibly die of grief if she was separated from me. Is there any alternative to find long-term care for her? Clinics will only take her for a few weeks. Would there be any home care packages that would be available? I will pay whatever it takes. I just want to see her well and happy. At present she is wasting away and I can't stop it. I sit by her bedside and watch and my heart is breaking.
I suppose the position is different in different states. I'm in Victoria, near Melbourne.
Just want you to know that even though I kind of ran out of things to say, and how to be of any help, I do want you to know and remember that you are never far from my thoughts. I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers all the time. And your wife too.
Take care. Mel. xo
OK, following on from my post in reply to Sweetheart: I did at last find an organization which claims to be able to place alcoholics in permanent accommodation. However they want $10,000 upfront and another $10,000 later. That seems outrageous to me and my GP agreed and so did a couple of others I spoke to. So that will be an absolute last resort.
But my wife and I have come up with an idea which seems to be working and so I recommend it to anybody who is in a similar situation to me. We have signed an agreement whereby she agrees to me taking control of her cash, credit cards, EFTPOS cards and car keys for 1 month. After 1 month I will give them back to her for 1 day and allow her to buy wine provided she buys no more than 2 litres and consumes no more than 1 litre. I may share the balance with her or throw it out. After that 1 day the cycle begins again. In other words, I agree to put up with one day of drunkenness in exchange for 29 or 30 days of sobriety. She says this is easier for her to manage because she can put up with a temporary deprivation rather than committing herself to forever.
This is combined with a program of intense activity for her: walks, yoga, pilates, online courses, Rotary membership, other volunteering, and regular consultations with her psychiatrist and psychologist. An outpatient program will start for her next week. She is busy all day every day! Her psychiatrist calls it developing new neural networks to replace the old ones.
This has been going since 3 July. She had some alcohol in accordance with the agreement on 5 August when she had a bad day. But mostly she claims to have no urges. Things are helped by the COVID restrictions (I am in Melbourne) because we can't go out except for shopping and walks anyway. I admit that maybe it will be different when one of us is able to go out without the other for long periods. However, I am hopeful. The goal, as we discussed just now, is to lengthen the period of one month gradually once she proves she is able to cope with 1 month abstinence.
The idea is supplemented by moral support and affection from me, which has an important effect. Her psychiatrist and psychologist also support it. If you are in a situation like me, please give this idea serious consideration. It also makes my life a lot happier, too!