Today is typically "mom day", but I saw the forecast and decided to help her yesterday instead of today. We live in an area with some brutal winter weather. Our metropolitan area averages between 110 - 120 inches of snow each winter. The plows and sanders keep up pretty well with the snow covered roads, but the wind, visibility, ice, and the occasional reckless driver make driving this time of year hazardous to our health. North of us, it is more like 300 inches each winter; it is a rural area with lots of small towns and villages. I don't know how they manage. For the young and hardy, I guess.
It is only 12 degrees Fahrenheit today, with a low of Zero! Wind chill will make it feel much colder. A good day to stay inside and keep warm.
My materials arrived for the Leaf Study. It includes an 8 inch tablet for video conferencing and a workbook with reading material and activities to be done on a weekly basis. Each week, there is a video conference with the assigned facilitator. I'm very hopeful and really looking forward to these sessions. The goal of the intervention is to provide the caregiver with coping skills to deal with the stress of caregiving.
I continue to learn as I go along. I seem to be doing better at preventing and minimizing upsets for Jim. It's not always preventable. Sometimes I just don't see it coming. When that happens, it is up to me to choose how to respond. The hardest part for me is not personalizing the hurtful things that are said.
Years ago, fresh out of college I took a job as an aide at a developmental center. I worked on a unit with fairly high functioning folks, but who because of their behaviors were institutionalized. (As a side note, the developmental center was closed about 15 years ago. All services are now provided in smaller, community based setting. Win-win for everyone involved.)
Anyway, I remember the challenges I faced working as an aid. I actually got quite good at preventing negative behaviors, calming techniques etc. I never personalized what was happening, simply viewed it as a function of their developmental disability.
Why can't I do that with Jim? I know why..... Not personalizing an interaction requires an emotional distance from the person. How do you do that when this is someone you have loved your whole life? These are just rhetorical questions, I know there are no real answers.
There are still plenty of good times, silly times and fun times. I think part of my survival will be to focus and remember these good times, and try to compartmentalize the bad times.
There continues to be a decline in language. Almost always, I am able to figure out what he is trying to say by paying attention to the context, prior conversations etc. Once in a while I get stumped. He usually doesn't get too bothered by it, just says something like "I'll think of it later."
Sometimes his perception of an event is quite off. And usually the perception is a negative one. We had a conversation the other day with someone we both know. The conversation was light hearted, a few laughs, very pleasant. The following day he commented that the person was rude and mean to him! I have to be very careful how I respond to something like this. If I say that I remember it differently, he is likely to become angry. It's always a balancing act, and in the end, it has to be what is best for Jim, keeping him safe, happy and content.
I had a great phone conversation with a very good friend of mine recently. I call it friendship therapy! We managed to minimize talking about Jim, and instead I was able to hear about what is going on in her life, and latest news about people we mutually know. It was wonderful. The friend and family connections keep me going.
Being able to write what is on my mind is also very helpful to me. Just organizing my thoughts, typing the words, helps me to process and work through some of the tougher issues. So thanks for stopping by. I so appreciate each one of you!