Letting Go and Holding On...
Sunday, August 21, 2016
My dear wife and partner of 21+ years was recently diagnosed with very eArly Alzheimer's dementia. The past 2 years she has struggled with mild cognitive deficit - short term memory loss, with follow up for the local Memory Care Clinic. many who have this shirt term memory loss do progress to a fairly severe level, yet never develop Alzheimer's. This was what we had hoped for, of course. So while I knew exactly how little short term memory my wife had, her recognition and level of social and other functioning is still intact enough that the new diagnosis surprised me.
I have already been letting go of the highly efficient, well organized and goal oriented woman who always supported me and encouraged me in every way- and it's been tough. I miss those qualities and aspects of her personality. She is no longer capable of multitasking, setting multiple goals and tAsks that require sequencing to carry out thru a day, with a bigger picture in mind. Living in the moment and being oriented to the dAy, plans or appointments etc are things I routinely help her with. And gladly so- I love her to pieces and am so thankful my own situation brought me to an early retirement where I can be home and with her full-time, we are very compatible, as well as being very different personalities -
She was always the neat one who did things around the house long before I'd even notice them, the home owner who knew how to and did even into her 70s wallpaper like a professional and take care of minor repairs and glitches around the house. Always on time if not early, a wonderful hostess... I much less so, usually followed her wishes or plans for things like that. Now it's up to me to get things done - she is able and glad to help and do the. Together if I am there to participate and sequence things... Hard to explain. Anyway, I know how she likes to keep things in the house and otherwise and am doing my best to see that we are doing that - and when not, to either get assistance or let it go. She has always helped me to be neater and more organized, to get things done. I have always helped her to relax and not take things so seriously, to enjoy herself more. So being called to step up to the plate is not necessarily a bad thing, there are benefits to me as well, But there are aspects of a give and take between partners that I realize I miss very much,
Most importantly, however I am holding on to all that we do have together, savoring each moment and enjoying her sense of humor, her great love and affection, her love of life and people and even now her independence and drive. She still walks the track at the Y for 40 minutes at least 3x a week and is in terrific physical shape. She loves me dearly as I am and always supports me and encourages me no matter what. She changes the bandages/dressing on my leg wound 1-2 times a day ... Our challenges complement one another, we are able to actively help one another every day in significant ways, and that is good for both of us.
Now with the Alzheimers diagnosis, it is all the more essential that I keep things in Today, that I not diminish my experience and gratitude for the company and presence of my beloved wife in my fear of losing her awareness at some later date...
Holding on to each moment, holding on to our love and our life together day to day, even as some of the details change, Take care of myself and my wife by eating healthy meals and snacks, ensuring yhat we have the necessary food/goods to do so, planning accordingly. Utilizing friends/our support network for assistance as needed.
This week I'll be contacting a local organization, Eldersource, to request a home visit to learn about support services available to us both, and also for me as in a few months I'll be eligible for Medicare and need to know how to proceed there. we already have completed our wills, powers of attorney, health care proxy etc 2 yrs ago when she stared having the short term memory problems,
It is critical that I continue to focus on taking care of myself - to exercise and build the strength and endurance in my legs so I Can hopefully leave the walker behind and go back to my quad cane, and return to driving... Increase my stamina and ability to grocery shop, cook, have more energy over all... And Be better able to manage my lymphedema.
Coming here to Spark is a very positive act that I can carry out and take advantage of as often as I like, any time of day or night. Very, very grateful for that and everyone here, though I have still been struggling to come daily and to speak up and participate more consistently.