Monday, September 26, 2016

Leaf Your Troubles Behind




A little play on words...

This is a picture of Jim, sweeping the driveway and the yard(!) with a large sweep broom. I think I have mentioned before how meticulous he is with our yard. If you look closely, you may see a few leaves on the grass. He will get every one of them! With each passing year it becomes more of an intense focus for him, to make sure he is out there chasing down every leaf that falls. We've talked many times about waiting until they build up a bit, or even mulching them with his mower, but he will have none of it. While there is no harm in what he is doing, it does represent the level of anxiety he experiences if everything is not just right.

Jim had to replace our leaf blower this year. It is a little different from the old one. Wouldn't you know it, he is not able to operate it. The guy who helps us with our landscaping was kind enough to give Jim a lesson the other day on how to operate it. You can be sure that I was all ears, taking note, knowing that Jim would never retain what he was being shown. When the leaves actually start really falling and building up, I'll get out the leaf blower and go over it with Jim.  It's a pretty heavy duty blower; I'm not sure I could pull the cord to start it. But I certainly can talk Jim through the steps.

The other day we were leaving for the grocery store. As I pulled out of the garage and started down the driveway, he yelled "wait!". I thought something was terribly wrong; his voice was filled with anger and anxiety. I stopped the car, he opened the door, picked up the shells from a nut that had fallen onto the driveway and tossed it into the wooded area. I cannot imagine what it is like inside his brain, to live with this kind of worry and anxiety.

While Jim was outside sweeping the yard and driveway this morning, his closest friend, Mike, happened to call. I picked up the phone and explained that Jim was outside, but that I'd have him return the call.  Mike asked me about the changes he had been seeing in Jim. What a relief! I was certain that Mike must have noticed, but it didn't feel right for me to bring it up to him. We must have talked for 20 minutes. He said he noticed the changes quite a while ago. He said all the right things. He encouraged me to call him for anything, even if it is just to talk. What an amazing friend. I feel so grateful.

I've ordered the "oops" cards that I spoke about here. I'm not sure how this will work, but I'll have them on hand for those awkward moments. (Thanks Amy!)

My idea of leaving a note with my return time and cell phone number is working well. It was an easy fix, and leaves me feeling more comfortable with going to the Y, helping my mother etc.

One of the blogs I enjoy reading is Kathy's Retirement Blog. You can check it out here. She recently wrote a two part post about the role of caregiving. It was a good, thoughtful discussion with helpful comments from other readers. It was a good reminder that as caregivers we need to find time to take care of ourselves to minimize the stress and strain that come from this challenging role. My time at the Y and the time I spend with my friends are my two main outlets.

Well, another post is written. My soul feels lifted. It means everything to me to know that I can share my most private thoughts on this page and know that these words will be "heard" by caring supportive friends. So thanks for stopping by. Until next time....leaf your troubles behind :-)


14 comments:

  1. At least at this point he is physically able to chase leaves, it gives him something to do, and is good for him to be outside. We all feel better I think if we get some fresh air. I'm glad one of his friends has been open with you about the changes he's seeing. That should help I think.

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    1. Thanks Linda. I agree that the exercise, fresh air and exercise are good for him. His friend opening up to me is a huge relief. I know that if I ever need help, especially as things become more difficult, he'll be there. They have been friends since childhood!

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  2. I agree with Linda that it is good he has a passion even if it is leaf eradication. It is something he can give his full concentration to and is great exercise.
    It is good his friend now knows. He should be more at ease around Jim and won't misunderstand perhaps a cross word or unusual action. Also, it gives you an ally that you can be comfortable around. Support is great for him but also for you.

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    1. Leaf eradication! That describes it exactly :-)

      Mike is one of his Wednesday lunch buddies. We talked about the driving issue, which has me concerned. So far, I'm doing almost all of the driving. Jim is OK for short distances to a familiar place. At some point, it will not be OK for him to drive at all. I know I'll be able to count on Mike to help Jim ease into this very difficult (for Jim) transition.

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  3. I know so little about cognitive decline like Jim's, but I recognize the changes in both my own and my husband's ability to remember things. We both keep a wary eye on the other for anything out of the ordinary. So far, so good. I feel glad to have found your blog so I can read about coping mechanisms. Sending you both lots of love. :-)

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    1. Thanks DJan. Sending the love right back your way :-)

      It helps so much to write about it. It is an outlet for me, and also helps me to process all of what is happening. I also am inspired and get some great thoughts and ideas from my readers, for which I am grateful.

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  4. Replies
    1. Being clever does not come naturally to me. I got lucky this time :-)

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  5. I'm visiting from Patti. Both my husband and I are in our 70's so we're definitely mindful of changes both mental and physical. I'm glad you're still able to get out and be with friends or run errands. You need a respite for your own mental health. Hugs from CO.

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    1. Thanks Barb! Yes, I do appreciate the fact that it is still "early in the game". CO has beautiful weather. We visited a couple of times about 15 years ago. Beautiful state. Thanks again for stopping by :-)

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    2. P.S. Just visited your blog. Beautiful photography!

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  6. Thinking of you. Please find a way to have a change of scenery and some conversation.

    b+

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    1. Thanks Barb. I love your blog! Yes, I am mindful that I need to take care of myself as well as take care of Jim. Every week I try to plan a few things that are just for me :-) Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. The leaf blower brings great benefits.
    Thank you for share the post.
    Clicking Here

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