Til Death Do We Part- Caring for A Spouse With Alzheimer’s
“I really thought I could do it all!” Jayne told me.
“After all, he is my husband.
We said vows to honor and cherish, in sickness and in health, till death do we part.
In the beginning it wasn’t so bad. Friends and family came around to help. And Jim could still function pretty well. Of course, I took over the driving and bills and basic decision making to be safe.”
With time however Jayne and her husband Jim began to feel the weight of this disease. This is a disease that can go on for many years. And the toll it can take on a spouse is tremendous.
Family and Friends Disappear
And as Jayne experienced, family and friends begin to drop off after a while. They mean to help. But they have their own lives to lead. Jayne's sister had cancer and had to take time to care for herself. Some of her friend’s husbands also had health issues.
And the truth was some people are just uncomfortable around this disease and do not know what to say or do. And so, they do nothing.
Trying to Be A Caregiver Superhero is Not Sustainable
“Looking back, I realize that I may have worn my care giving duties as a badge of honor. It was a way of proving to myself, to Jim and to the world that I was a good wife. After all, a good wife would not put her husband in a facility, right?”
Jayne was 70 when Jim was Diagnosed With Alzheimer's Disease
Now at 75 she is exhausted. Just doing all of the extra stuff that Jim used to do is a lot. Taking care of the bills, home maintenance, driving everywhere we need to go and cooking and cleaning is a lot at her age. But on top of that Jayne had to help Jim shower and get dressed.
When Behavior Changes
And sometimes he got agitated and did not cooperate. He hurled insults at her and called her names. Sometimes he didn’t even know who she was. There were even a few times Jayne confessed that she was frightened of Jim.
“He would get so angry. He even broke his mother’s vase that he loved. He threw it on the floor in a fit of rage. I was frightened”
Jayne's doctor suggested that she join an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group. So she hired a home care agency to stay with Jim while she attended the weekly meetings. And her eyes began to open.
What Jayne Discovered Was:
Being a good wife and spouse didn’t mean that she had to do everything herself. She didn’t need to be a superhero. Being a good spouse meant that she needed to make the best choices for Jim and for herself. And letting someone else take over the day to day care of Jim was the best choice.
“It wasn’t easy moving Jim into the care home. I had a hard time sleeping and worried constantly. But he is thriving in his new environment. He has friends and the caregivers are really taking excellent care of him. Now when I visit, I can be his wife again. And it feels good."
In honor of our founder Pat Mack we are carrying on the tradition of caring for our residents in "The Light Heart Way"
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