Every day. Yes, it is every day. Dementia does not offer any days off. Not for Jim, and not for me. But, I feel like I am emotionally starting the transition that will help me to find peace and contentment with this altered life of ours.
One of my fellow dementia bloggers and I have been corresponding a bit my email. She has been "in the game" for a longer period of time than I have been. Her gracious and helpful emails have just been a breath of fresh air for me. She observed that once she accepted that caregiving is her life, things started to flow a little easier. This, as opposed to trying to maintain what was a "normal" life, and working in the caregiving around life as she knew it.
So there you have it. Sounds simple enough, but I know that this transition is psychological and emotional. It is a journey that every caregiver must go through. I've been doing a lot of reading lately related to dementia caregiving. As I read about others' experiences it helps me. It helps me feel less alone, it gives me hope that I can do this, and it gives me some guidance for this journey.
Jim has some compulsions that are difficult for both of us. It causes him anxiety, and in turn causes me anxiety as I try so hard to make things right. He is very compulsive about clothing. He always was a very snappy dresser. With the progression of his dementia, this has turned into an obsession over the minutiae of his clothing articles. Almost every day, we are headed to one store or another in search of t-shirts, blue jeans, socks, long sleeve shirts, the list goes on. NONE are acceptable. He will focus on imperceptible imperfections, as he sees them, and then rules out any purchases. He gets so frustrated.
I feel so sorry for him. I can't imagine how hard this must be for him. I'm getting better at just saying "let's go look in another store". At least it gives him a purpose, and something to do. And, it works much better than trying to talk him into buying something that he sees as imperfect. That just doesn't work, and makes him even more frustrated. When he sees the gerontologist I will make sure she is aware of this issue. A little medication to ease his anxiety would likely help a lot.
I recently discovered some new local resources through our county's Office of Aging. They operate separately from the Alzheimers Association. They offer courses, classes, consultations, and resources for the caregiver. In addition, I discovered a support group that is even closer to my home, with meetings every other Thursday. I'm looking forward to attending this support group. It is getting harder for me to leave Jim alone, even with all my reassuring notes I leave him when I have to leave. So I'm grateful to have a group so close to my home. Hopefully it is a good fit for me.
I drove him to his haircut appointment yesterday. It was interesting to me that as we travelled along the highway, he was uncertain which exit he should take. This is after many, many years of driving here to get his haircut. It just reinforces the decision I made that I need to be doing all the driving.
Holidays will look different this year. Usually family (30+) gathers at our house. This year, Jim and I, my disabled brother, and my brother whom I am very close to, and his family will take a Wegmans prepared T'giving dinner to my mom's. There will be 8 of us. Disposable dinnerware makes clean up very easy. I am so relieved to not have to think about a huge party at our house!
Today we went to Home Depot and purchased a very cute artificial Christmas tree that is is only 4 1/2 feet tall. I can carry it by myself up and down from the basement. The last couple of years we have struggled to get our 7 1/2 foot tree up and down the stairs. Last year was very shaky. Jim has definitely lost some of his dexterity and balance.
Downsizing holidays, a smaller Christmas tree, these are all signs of my transition to accepting that caregiving is my life. I'll continue to hope, plan and strive for the grace and understanding that comes with thoughtful caregiving.
Another post has been written, and as always, I find it therapeutic to be able to share my thoughts with my dear readers. So thanks for stopping by, for listening and for caring. And until next time....