A good friend of mine, who understands our struggles, asked me a couple of weeks ago if I regretted our trip to FL. At the time I said no, that in spite of the challenges, it was worth it. Now I am not so sure. Will I still want to do this again next year? I don't know.
Jim continues to have significant, intermittent problems with his memory. His confusion is not as profound as experienced in our travels from home to FL. But still, enough to be concerning. He occasionally asks if we are married, asks if I have any brothers and sisters, how long have we known each other, and so on.
I have wisely chosen to minimize social activities with others. I'm finding that it is just too overwhelming for him and often leads to upsets, anxiety and more confusion.
I become overwhelmed when I think about our trip home. To that end, I have been talking to Jim's friend, Mike, about having him fly here, drive our car home, and Jim and I would fly home. The flight would be a 3 hour direct flight. The hard part of flying home would be navigating Orlando International Airport. If you've ever been in this airport you will know what I mean. It is overwhelming even to someone without dementia! And, I would have to come up with an excuse as to why we were flying home and having Mike drive our car. (Maybe a "mom emergency"?). I'm still thinking this through.
The progression of Jim's dementia continues. As I look over the last year, it has been a fairly steady loss of skills and memory. It seems to be a fast progression, at least to me, but I also know that every journey is different. I've also have heard that the younger a person is, the faster the decline.
I'm reading a great book The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer. This is the description by Amazon.
"A groundbreaking book coauthored by the Nobel Prize winner who discovered telomerase and telomeres' role in the aging process and the health psychologist who has done original research into how specific lifestyle and psychological habits can protect telomeres, slowing disease and improving life."
The research was done on stressed out caregivers. And the best part is that the authors provide very specific things that you can do to manage the stress and show that you can change your response to the stress that comes from caregiving. This in turn, lengthens the telomeres, providing you with a healthy, longer life.
Some important concepts of the book:
- Resilient thinking
- Trading pain for self-compassion
- Waking up joyfully
- Distancing (mentally) from negative thoughts and emotions
As I read the book, I'm pleased to discover that there are some things that I am already doing. For example, they talk about the dangers of ruminating over negative thoughts and emotions. I'm pretty good at letting this stuff go. I'm quick to forgive and move on.
Probably the hardest part for me is when I am in the moment of one of Jim's upsets. I had some practice this afternoon when he became angry and upset "Why do you always tell me things I already know?!!!" (He said this after asking where the garbage recepticle was, and I answered.) This was a minor upset that didn't last long, but gave me the opportunity to practice resilient thinking and distancing mentally from my negative thoughts and emotions.
So the journey continues. I'm grateful for the learning opportunities along the way. And I am grateful for all the kind readers who stop by as we learn, support and encourage each other.