Not Always Gently

Knowing that I would become my husband’s caregiver had no sense of reality in the beginning, because I didn’t know what that would involve other than the dreaded “nursing home” visions I had in my mind — which I pictured in our own home, of course.  My mind leaped ahead too fast at first, to total mental and physical disability.  I had no idea what would precede that stage, so the reality of caregiving unfolded gradually and not always gently.

The day he shouted when he stepped into the shower was my first lesson in planning for his safety: The water was scalding hot.  I never let him take a shower again until I had regulated the water temperature.  Seeing him come out of the shower without having washed his hair, reminding him the next day to use the shampoo only to have him say “what’s that?” taught me that I would need to think of small daily things such as this.

Other things that occurred over time included his lack of judgment about spending money (he bought a trailer for $3,000 to hook onto the back of his car – just because he liked it) – which about cleaned out our savings; he would get lost if his familiar driving routes included a detour; and he became suspicious of things being stolen if he couldn’t find something.  There is a chapter in my book entitled “Judge Without a Jury,” that describes my experience of his thinking things were missing and making me feel guilty about it.  I would find him counting his socks and grumbling that he knew there should be more, and counting the change he had put on his dresser the night before and asking me pointedly if I had taken his socks and his money.  I had to learn not to try to explain that I hadn’t taken anything and simply suggest we would look into it later.  It was hard to resist the need to correct his suspicions, but correcting his unfounded accusations was futile.

The most profound knowledge I developed during our Alzheimer’s experience was “the person with Alzheimer’s is always right.  No exceptions.”  Correcting and explaining only created arguments and conflict, never resolution or restoration of trust.

The reality of caregiving differed significantly from what I thought caregiving entailed when we first began this journey into Alzheimer’s.  Caregiving spans a long time of daily trials before it reaches the place of only physical care.  It is a process that brings depression and exasperation, and only connecting with others who have experienced it can teach you that you are not the cause.  Alzheimer’s is the cause, not you.

One Response for " Not Always Gently "

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    Hi there! This article couldn’t be written much better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I will forward this information to him. Pretty sure he’ll have a very
    good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

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