Gosh, it’s been seven months since last I posted. Where did the time go? I moved to a smaller apartment and bought a smaller car. My husband got COVID at the memory care facility, was hospitalized, and died in January. He was cremated and everything that needs to be done has been done. Having him at home was painful, but so was having him in the facility. Because of the pandemic, I saw him only a few times, but each time he seemed to have deteriorated both physically and mentally. Phone conversations were harder to have and communication with the facility about him was less than adequate. I couldn’t be with him when he died and we have not yet had a memorial service yet – but soon. After watching him change for four years, I thought that I was prepared for his death, but after five months of being on my own some days are just plain difficult. I have a great support system and keep busy, but the evenings are the hardest when we took a walk, watched television, or worked on a puzzle together. I can’t say I want the person he became back, but I sure do miss the person he was.Read More
After struggling with his issues caused by Alzheimer’s disease for four years, I recently placed my husband of 62 years in a memory care facility. On one hand, it was the hardest decision I ever made; on the other hand, I couldn’t manage his behaviors, and the responsibility to ensure he was safe any longer. He wasn’t a wanderer but every evening around 4:30, the sundowning began and he became a very disagreeable, aggressive man no one could handle. So, he has been in memory care community for about 3 ½ weeks. We talk almost every day, but I haven’t been able to visit him because of the COVID virus. I don’t miss the constant questions and his saying the same thing over and over, the mood swings, the loss of memory – both short and term, and the constant worry, but I do miss the person he was. The person I shared my life with for so many years – the laughs, the special moments, and the struggles This was never in my game plan.Read More
I was the primary care-provider for my husband of 62 years who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He had been experiencing memory problems prior to a nine-day hospital stay which included abdominal surgery and a long list of medications. His memory declined after the hospital stay and never recovered – that was four years ago and declined markedly the last six months. This once energetic, smart, funny man had been reduced to a forgetful, unconfident, sometimes ornery shadow of his former self. Over the four years, I read online discussion boards, had strong family help and support, and did everything I could to keep him safe, to work with his limitations, and to not take his insults personally. More than once, I thought, “I just can’t do this any longer,” but somewhere, somehow, I found the wherewithal to go on awhile longer. I tried to hire an in-home care provider, but he would not allow that to be successful. I visited memory care facilities, but I hated to do that and they were expensive. So, we struggled on. Two months ago, I could no longer find that wherewithal any longer and made the hardest decision of my life – to find a new “home” for him. We found a lovely care home with six residents one of whom had Alzheimer’s disease. He was there less than 24 hours and they asked him to leave – he tried to climb a fence, he walked off, and was totally disruptive. They […] Read More
I met my husband when I was 12, we were married when we were 19, and have been married 61 years. We raised two children, did well financially, and had a good life. He was my rock and my best friend. We exercised, ate nutritious, and worked full time long after the age of retirement even though he had some memory loss and I had eye surgery. Three years ago our lives changed dramatically. He had emergency surgery. Whether it was the trauma of the surgery and hospital stay, the effects of the anesthesia and medication, or something else, I will never know but his memory not only didn’t recover but it has deteriorated dramatically since then.Read More
There are always choices to be made. You can dwell on the sunny side of life or the dark and stormy side – you can cultivate a positive outlook or a negative outlook.
When your thoughts tend to view life challenges and situations as something you can deal with, you probably have a more positive outlook on life. When your thoughts tend to find the worst in everything or reduce your expectations by considering the worst possible scenarios, you probably have a negative outlook. As you can imagine, outlook makes a major difference in a person view of the world.
This outlook often starts with self-talk; the endless stream of unspoken thoughts running through your head. Self-talk can come from logic and reason or from misconceptions and misperceptions.
Judith T. Moskowitz, professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University in Chicago, developed a set of eight skills to help foster positive emotions.
1. Noticing positive events
2. Savoring positive events
3. Expressing gratitude
4. Practicing mindfulness
5. Reframing events
6. Noticing personal strengths
7. Setting and working toward attainable goals
8. Displaying acts of kindness.
However, maintaining a positive outlook is more challenging when you are the primary care provider for a loved one. Let’s look at how Jennie managed to re-capture her positive outlook.Read More
Most caretakers experience burnout at some point. When it occurs and isn’t addressed, they eventually become unable to provide quality care. According to the 2015 National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute, an estimated 43.5 million American adults were unpaid caregivers and about 85 percent cared for someone related to them. Taking care of a loved one with dementia, physical disabilities, or other age-related conditions makes demands on a person’s time, energy, and emotions — demands that, as the Cleveland Clinic warn, “can easily seem overwhelming.”Read More
Do you ever have conversations with yourself; ones that take place in your head? As Dr. Jessica Nicolosi, a clinical psychologist based in New York says, “Talking to ourselves is completely within the norm. In fact, we talk to ourselves constantly.” This inner voice might “talk” throughout the day or be unrecognizable; a critic or a coach. An inner critic is negative and may arise when you’ve made a mistake or are working on something difficult. This critic demands perfection or surrender. You may be very familiar with the voice nagging you into believing that anything other than perfect is not worth trying. It points out previous failures and warns of things that stand in the way of getting what you want. An inner coach is positive and more likely to arise when you are succeeding. The inner coach supports your efforts, motivates you to keep trying even when you aren’t totally successful, encourages you to work toward improvement, and helps you figure out what might be standing in the way of your performance – like a personal trainer for your attitude!Read More
My husband has dementia and my goal is for him is to stay home as long as possible. Yet, after four years of living with the behaviors and chaos involved, there are days when it seems as if I just can’t be his care giver or provider one minute longer. The quick answer is “don’t take it personally, it’s the disease” but that’s easier said than done – this is a wearing, discouraging, and overwhelming journey many days. But yes, I could answer the same questions, remind him over and over, and listen to the same stories thirty and forty times. Then, the coronavirus arrived and the stresses tripled. He doesn’t understand the virus, he is home with nothing to do, he can’t go anywhere, and he is unable to have company. He asks even more questions and doesn’t remember what is said from moment to moment. I am more fortunate than many caregivers, though. My family is supportive, money is not an issue, we have a lovely home, we are physically healthy, he takes care of his personal needs, and he is with me.Read More
How do you want to spend the rest of your life – going slowly downhill until death or being the person, you want to be despite life’s challenges and stressors? Maintaining a healthy lifestyle plays a vital role. If your answer to that question is to be the person I want to be despite life’s challenges and those challenges include being a care-giver, your goal is more difficult. Let’s look at how the physical, intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual, and functional dimensions of wellness play a role. They are key! As the old Spanish proverb says “A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” As the mechanic of your health and a caregiver, you must maintain your mind and body, as well as that of the person you care for.Read More
I have taken over most of the household duties and responsibilities since my husband had surgery three years ago. The circumstances of the surgery led to a marked decrease in his long- and short-term memory. I sometimes resent having to do those duties and responsibilities and to deal with his questions, paranoia, forgetfulness and irrational thinking on a daily and hourly basis. Retirement communities, assisted living, and in-home assistance didn’t work out; so here we are. Yet, I am fortunate, my family is close, we are financially sound, we have a nice place to live and we are physically healthy. So, how do I get past the feelings of self-pity that often sneak in?Read More