Boy, sometimes this is really hard.
Most of it is pretty manageable. The repetitive questions, the loss of words, the forgetfulness, the loss of skills and ability to do things, having to go to places I dislike (the mall! for fear he would drive if I didn't go with him), the confusion with any slight change in plans; all of these can be a little irritating at times or even frustrating for me. But it really is no big deal.
It is easy to hide my inner annoyance and still be able to help/direct/answer for the 50th time. And, do it in a way that I am smiling and portraying a happiness that I can help him. Which I am!
But there is sadness, because it represents new losses every week, sometimes every day. And it won't get better, only worse. It helps me immensely when I remain cognizant of the fact that Jim is the one who is losing his abilities to function, not me. He drew the short straw, and I lucked out by still having all of my cognitive abilities.
The times that are the hardest for me are when he becomes angry at me. I am getting better at predicting and avoiding situations that cause his anger, but not always.
One of the things that can change with the progression of dementia is taste. This excellent post by Elaine Eshbaugh, PhD, tipped me off to why Jim has experienced these changes. I used to love to cook. I would enjoy creating a nice meal to share with family/friends. But quite some time ago this love of cooking waned. As I look back, it started with Jim finding fault with meals I would prepare. Things he used to enjoy, he suddenly expressed dissatisfaction with the food I had prepared. Talk about putting a damper on wanting to cook!
As I look back, this was probably one of the earliest signs of change in Jim. We are now down to about less than 10 entrees that he finds acceptable for dinner. It's pretty boring at our house at dinner time! Lunch is even harder. He used to love certain items, but now can't stand them. The latest thing that kept him happy at lunch time was prepared chicken salad from the deli. Nice and easy!
That is, until yesterday. Now he hates the chicken salad, claiming it tastes different. He was obviously frustrated and angry, and I was the object of his emotional upset.
Jim: "I'm sick of not having any food in the house that I can eat!"
Me: "Oh, that must be frustrating for you..." (he interrupted me)
Jim: "Don't give me that! Do something about it!"
Me: "Let's go to the store to see if we can find something that looks good to you."
He was angry, but he agreed. We got in the store and he is stomping around, saying harsh, sarcastic rude things, and very negative at any of my suggestions. At this point the tears started to flow. I just couldn't help myself. I was so hurt, crushed, and frustrated. And feeling very helpless. How do I fix this? I just can't.
We managed to make it out of the store and went home. I don't cry often (although more so lately), and it really made Jim feel bad. So at some level he knew that he was being a jerk. He apologized, and of course I accepted.
Jim: "I've never done anything like this before! I never yell at you, I just wouldn't do that! Please forgive me. I'll never do it again, I'm so sorry."
He really has no memory of other times that he has been mean to me and brought me to tears. Damn this dementia.
The other stuff is easy. This personality and behavior change is not. So, what am I going to do? Well, Jim's health care is in the process of being transferred to a gerontologist. Unfortunately this will not take place until we return in April from FL. She has a busy practice and he is on the waiting list. It will happen, just not as soon as I would like. I've asked to be called in case there is a cancellation that would get us in sooner. My hope and expectation is that she will prescribe something that will help Jim deal with his anxiety.
There are a few different support groups in the area. The one that I think I can go to is the third Tuesday of the month at 5:30 (uh-oh, dinner time!). So I am committing to go to this at least once, to see if it is a good fit for me. If not, there are others. It is getting harder and harder to leave the house by myself. Jim ALWAYS wants to go with me. And if I do leave him home alone, he easily develops anxiety until I get home. But I know that if I can't take care of myself, I won't be in any shape to help Jim.
On a totally different note, I'll be so glad when the election is over! And not just because I am tired of the negativity, but because I will no longer be asked "Are we supposed to vote today?" I'm smiling as I type this.
So once again I must thank my dear readers for listening. How did we find each other? I'm not sure, but it means a lot to me to know that these kind, caring readers are listening. Until next time...