Friday, January 13, 2017

Gratitude in the Land of Dementia



Since regaining his memory of our marriage, things have started to settle down. Every once in a while, he will still surprise me with something. This conversation took place yesterday:

Jim: "We're going to have to do something with our two properties."

Me: "You mean our home on Dogwood Way? Fortunately where we are now is a condo we have rented for just 3 months; we don't own it."

Jim: "No, I'm talking about the house you own and the house I own."

Me: "We jointly own our home on Dogwood Way. We had the house built over 10 years ago."

(I pause here, not wanting to overload him with too much information at once.)

Jim: (Just looks at a me.)

Me: "We lived on Elmwood Drive when we were first married 30 years ago."

Jim: "That's right."

Just prior to this conversation we were talking about something completely rational and logical. It catches me off guard when his memory fails him in such a profound way, although by now you would think it wouldn't surprise me.

The condominium complex we are staying in is relatively small, only 30 units. This works to our advantage. Everyone knows each other and the environment is very friendly. We have felt so very welcome from our first day here.

There is Coffee Hour every Thursday at 2:00. Everyone meets poolside with their mug, and some folks bring treats to share. Such a nice way to get to know each other.

And usually around 4:00 every afternoon folks will gather around or in the pool, ready to solve the world's problems, with a beverage of choice in their hand.

Jim's dementia has progressed to the stage where even in short social conversation the dementia is evident. The warmth, kindness and helpfulness of everyone here absolutely overwhelms me in a very good way.

The picture above gives you an idea of how close we are to the ocean. Jim's fatigue is very evident in this climate. We did a couple of walks on the beach, but it tired him out, and not it a good way. So our workaround is to enjoy the ocean view from our balcony. We are so grateful for the warmth and sunshine that Florida so graciously provides.

I'm still keeping up my guard and am on high alert. I need to remember that even very simple things can cause him distress. He needed a haircut, so we took a recommendation for a local barber less than 2 miles away. That morning his anxiety was at a very high level. The barber did a great job. Once we returned to the condo, Jim settled down. But the time leading up to the haircut was pretty intense.

I have a very mild cold, and not even worth mentioning. Except for the tailspin it has caused for Jim. Who knew? It's not a high level of anxiety, but it most definitely has effected his world. Is he worried about my health? Is he worried he will catch my cold? Or is it just something different that is upsetting his world in some way...

So on this early Friday morning I am feeling a lot of gratitude. Grateful that we are not up north, and more importantly grateful for the kindness of others in this community of Florida snow birds. As you might guess, most of the folks staying here are in their 60's or older. When I look around, I see lots of different health problems. Limitations from a stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and probably others I can't see. But we are in this together. A small community of aging adults, all caring for one another with kindness. I am so grateful.


17 comments:

  1. As you mentioned, since you are surrounded by seniors who either have or know someone close with an illness, I would think patience and understanding would come easily for them. It must be comforting for you to be in such an environment and not have to be on guard.
    Enjoy that healing sunshine.

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    1. Thanks Patti. It has been very reassuring. No judgement here, and lots of kindness and understanding. I'm so very grateful!

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  3. It sounds like there is a real sense of friendliness and community in your Florida condo. And what a nice view! Despite the difficulties you mentioned in your previous post, it seems like it was worthwhile making the trip.

    Jude

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    1. Hi Jude. I had some trepidation going into this trip, but now that we are here I'm so glad that we made this journey. Jm seems to be settling in and enjoying the warmer weather.

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  4. My heart aches for your husband and for you as well. I can only imagine the emotional difficulties you must have. Having people around must be a help. Stay well and enjoy the weather.

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    1. Thanks Valerie. My struggles with my emotions come with the dementia journey. But you are right, having this community of caring people makes all the difference.

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  5. Sounds like just the right setting -- in the sunshine, with caring, understanding people. Life can be good. Wonder if you're ever able to have any time just for yourself?

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    1. Not yet, but now that we've been here for almost 2 weeks, I may try a short walk (15 minutes) by myself, leaving the usual note for him. I'd love to get a little bit of exercise. His fatigue is just too overwhelming for him to go for any walks with me.

      But so glad we are here in the warmth and the sunshine. It's doing a world of good for both of us :-)

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  6. I'm glad you are in such a supportive environment. And it's wonderful to hear that Jim is actually having good moments for you to share together. Thanks for continuing to let me know how it's going. I care. :-)

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    1. Thanks DJan. I feel so supported by all of my readers! I too, am grateful that Jim is settling into this nice warm climate and caring community of snow birds.

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  7. Great post, I know what you mean by that burst of gratitude - great feeling! I also truly get what you are saying about Jim panicking when you have even a little cold symptoms - J is like that when I have a routine dentist appt now - somehow has lost the perspective on things like that.
    Thanks, as always!

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    1. Yes, I am trying to embrace gratitude each day! It helps to balance out the other stuff. Good thing I am overall healthy. This minor cold has made me stop and think about what I would do if something serious happened to my health. Not likely, but you never know. Thanks for your comment Jan.

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  8. Yes, count your blessings and live with what you have. There are those who worse off, believe me.

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  9. Looking for the positives is life affirming. Thanks for your comment Gigi.

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  10. Thank you for sharing. We are in similar circumstances though have had to forgo Florida to be near our support networks here in southern Minnesota....

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    1. Hi Troutbirder. Thanks for stopping by. I don't know how much longer we will be able to winter in FL; we shall see. I checked out your blogs; love both of them!

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