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.