It is hard for me to believe, but it has been four months since introducing a sitter into our lives. I thought about it a long time before making the decision. Then I agonized over the best way to present this to Kate. As it turned out, my worries were unwarranted. Kate accepted the sitter from the first day. She has always been very welcoming and has made comments about how sharp they are, something she says about most people she meets. It has been a relief to see how she responds each time the sitter arrives. Today, for example, I was in the kitchen when the sitter drove into the garage. We chatted briefly. Then I took her back to our bedroom where Kate was working on her iPad. As we entered, I said, “Mary is here, and I am off to the Y. You can do whatever you like. If you wanted you could go to Panera.” At that, Kate’s eyes brightened. She had a big smile on her face as she looked at Mary and said, “We could go to Panera.” So once again, I left without any worries about how she would get along.
There is another aspect to having a sitter that I hadn’t fully anticipated. (I should make it clear that we have two different sitters. One comes every Monday. The other comes Wednesdays and Fridays.) It still bothers me to leave her. As I suggested in a post two or three weeks ago, I was motivated to engage a sitter to enable me to continue going to the Y, Rotary, attend any meetings that I might have, and take care of any routine errands. I find that sometimes four hours seems very short. That is especially true when I go to the Y and Rotary on Monday. That leaves me only about thirty to forty-five minutes for other things. On Wednesdays, I meet my friend, Mark, for coffee and conversation. He is helping me transfer this journal to a blog. If we meet for an hour, I usually have forty-five minutes before I have to be home. On Friday, however, I don’t have any other standing obligations except the Y. That leaves me with almost two hours. I put that time to good use. I make new entries like this one for my journal and also review older entries to upload to my blog. (I’ll say more about that in a separate post.) While I make good use of the time, I feel the slightest tinge of guilt that I have left Kate in the hands of a sitter when I could be doing this with her at home, Panera, or Barnes & Noble.
At first, I thought I would get over this feeling rather quickly. Now that four months have passed, it hasn’t gone away. In time, I know that it will. In the meantime, I am following the guidance of my less emotional side and taking advantage of some private time that I would not ordinarily have.
I know that many people caring for a loved one with dementia would love to get a break. I would as well if it were not for the fact that Kate has been relatively easy to care for. In that respect, she is very much like my mother who had an undiagnosed form of dementia. As her illness progressed, she never became agitated or aggressive or displayed any of the kinds of behaviors that try the patience of many caregivers. The same was true for Kate’s mother who had vascular dementia. I am not ready to say that Kate will never express any of these problems, but she hasn’t so far.
As Kate declines, I am prepared to increase the amount of time the sitter is here. It is comforting to know that our long term care insurance provides up to 13 hours a day should we need it. That is well below the 12 hours a week that a sitter is with her now. I don’t anticipate increasing that anytime soon. I realize, however, that circumstances can change quickly. When the need arises, I will certainly take advantage of it.