Getting Along

Over the past week, I’ve had several experiences that remind me of how difficult it can be to care for someone with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. I have tried not to dismiss the challenges that I have faced, but my experience has been different. Kate and I continue to enjoy ourselves even in this last stage of her Alzheimer’s. I sometimes feel awkward about saying this because I know so many others are pulling their hair out.

I’ve reflected a lot on what makes our situation so different. I receive a lot of credit from other people, and I do believe I have done a good job caring for Kate. On the other hand, I don’t believe there is any one thing that explains why we have gotten along so well. Most of it is simply luck.

In a conversation with another caregiver yesterday, we compared notes on how we were adapting. She experiences far more frustrations than I do. When I learned more about her situation, I could see that I would probably be as frustrated as she if I were living her life. It was clear to me that it is easier to care for Kate than it is for other people with Alzheimer’s. She retains a kind disposition and has a sense of humor that helps us. A couple of days ago, I rushed her as I helped her dress. She told me to wait a minute in a very stern voice. I said, “I’m sorry. I’m bad about that. I’d better be careful or you might fire me.” She said, “If I could, I would.” I paused a second before responding. She laughed and said, “I gotcha on that one.” We both laughed and continued getting her dressed. This kind of thing occurs quite frequently every day.

It’s not just humor that gets us through things. We are both “pleasers.” Neither one of us wants to hurt the other. Of course, sometimes we do. She is very good at letting me know when I do something that bothers her, but she usually does it in a kind way. After she tells me not to do something, she often says, “But you are getting better” or “I know you mean well.” These may seem like little things, but they work for us.

On another subject, we had a good experience at Casa Bella on Thursday night. This was the third night since the death of the man with whom we have shared a table for the past six or seven years. Each of these times several members of his family have sat at the table in support of his widow who seems to be adjusting well. We were seated at a long table with ten other people. I was concerned this might not work well for Kate, but the conversation broke into smaller groups. We had a good time, and she especially enjoyed the music.

I think we might go to a movie, Linda Ronstadt, this afternoon. That would be the first one in months and only the second one in over a year. It is a documentary and supposed to be a “feel-good” movie. The last two movies she liked, RBG and Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, were the same type. I hope this one works.

Have a great day. I plan to do the same.

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