Wednesday, March 14, 2012


There's a number of things one needs to consider when deciding to keep the person, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, at home rather than putting them in a nursing facility.

The day we got the diagnosis, the doctors recommended Alan be put in a nursing facility immediately. I made the decision not to do that, at least not at this time. Did I understand the scope of the job I was taking on by making that decision? No. Would I make the same decision if I'd known? Yes.

First of all, charity begins at home. Even though we are divorced, there wasn't any particular resentments on either of our parts. The other thing that figured into my decision was the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

They assured me he would get used to being in a nursing facility. I still figured he would be more comfortable in familiar surroundings. One of the things he has always treasured is his being able to play his piano, and he's still good at it. Being at home would afford him the luxury of being able to play any time he felt like it. It would be nice if he'd stop deciding that 2:00 a.m. is when he'd like to play. It's always been a way for him to get rid of frustration, and I wanted him to still be able to do that. I've noticed he is starting to play less.

We always agreed to have morning coffee for an hour. We did that for years and it consisted of one uninterrupted hour of visiting and drinking coffee. Alan was somewhat of an intellectual. We both kept up with world events so there was never a time we didn't have something to discuss.

That's gone now. He rarely talks, has no idea what's going on in the world or even what year it is.

He's always enjoyed working jigsaw puzzles, the harder the better. We bought a 10,000 piece puzzle we were going to put together when we both retired. It now sets on a shelf, still in the cellophane wrapper, gathering dust because it will never be put together. I bought him a 750 piece a few weeks ago. He just couldn't do it, couldn't even figure out how to get the outside edge done.

A friend bought him a 100 piece the other day. It took a couple or three days but he got it worked. We took it apart and he's now working it again. He's been working on it for 4 days this time and it's almost done.

I went to a 12-step meeting this week. Just like a little kid, he will pick at things until he ruins them. It was a struggle to keep him from picking at scratches on the table. He picked at one until he finally got a hole started. And that was with me constantly telling him to stop. As soon as he saw I wasn't watching he would starting picking at it again.

He has broken a handle on the refrigerator, broken a piece off of the dishwasher, ruined ALL of my pots and pans. I've kept sane by remembering they are just things and can be replaced. Or at least they could be if I could afford it. I can't.

I understand why some people couldn't do what I'm doing. But over the years, I've learned things that are helping me cope fairly comfortably. Thank God for my favorite 12-step program.

I've learned that I only have to worry about today. I'm doing this one day at a time. I've learned not to sweat the small stuff. If I can't handle something, I've learned to put it in God's hands and leave it there. I've learned to try to find the humor in situations.

Yes, there may come a time I have to look into nursing facilities. But I don't have to do it today. Today I have him outside weeding flower beds, which he's always loved doing, in preparation for planting some things. Will he pull up my hostas, flowers and herbs. Probably. I'll actually be surprised if any of them survive but that's okay. They can be replaced. 

Will it look like crap when he get's it done. Probably. But that's okay too. What doesn't kill me will only make me stronger. Or royally piss me off. (sigh) Gotta go find the cat. I just found out he let him out again.

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