Sunday, April 29, 2012


Help has arrived. I now have four hours, three days a week, off. Yes, I can do whatever I want for FOUR straight hours. Guess what I chose to do!

I went to bed and slept for three and one-half hours, without worrying Alan might accidentally burn the house down.

Being caretaker for a dementia patient can be very confining. You're joined at the hip 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. That's how it's been for me for the last two years.

Now when I'm faced with being able to leave for a period of time, I have no idea what to do or where to go. It's a strange feeling. It's a mixture of apathy and just too freaking tired to get dressed and go anywhere. I know I've got to make myself get up and get moving.

I'm not sure what's happened to ME during this. I think I've taken the path of least resistance and just accepted the inevitable.

The caretaker is amazed Alan is so high-functioning. He plays the piano. He talked to the caretaker. He does NOT talk to me. I'm sure there's some resentment because he still doesn't believe he has alzheimer's. He has no memory of the past few years but he doesn't remember that he doesn't remember. He can't remember how to turn the television on. He can't remember to turn the stove off.

He doesn't seem to be cooperative with the new caretaker. He refused what she wanted to make him for lunch.

I've always valued time alone. I've had no time for myself for two years now. Maybe what I'm feeling is guilt at leaving him. Funny, considering I felt no guilt for divorcing him.

When I found out there was help on the way, I had a million ideas go through my head of things I could now do. A week later when help arrived, I went blank, having no idea what to do with myself for four hours.

Maybe I'm lonely? I don't think so but when sales people call, I trap them on the phone. They don't care what I'm telling them. I don't care that they don't care because I have a captive audience to listen to me.

Tomorrow I have another chance to get away. I'll have to think about that tonight.

Alan is certainly not hard to get along with at this point. Maybe things are just too quiet.

I miss my family terribly but seeing them is not an option either. Maybe I'll do something exciting like lock myself in my bedroom and write some of my other blogs. Not a bad idea. A 12-step meeting on Wednesday….oh yeah, I could certainly use that.

Interesting thing about writing a blog. It's amazing what you find out about yourself when you just sit down and start writing your thoughts sometimes.

When I thought I was through writing this one, I went over and googled "caretaker burnout". This whole blog is a classic of caretaker burnout and I didn't know it until after I wrote it.

So when I get up in the morning I will get dressed, do my hair, and go find something interesting to do. I WILL take care of me tomorrow, Wednesday and Friday.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

The only thing I can change is me. So I think I'll just do that, starting in the morning.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Had a truly interesting experience last week. I joined a website that would offer me a support group and lots of information on alzheimer's disease and dementia. They send me an email every week with some really helpful tips about caring for a family member who has Alzheimer's. It's been extremely helpful to me.

This site also has a cancer group, end of life group, caring for a spouse group, etc. What first attracted me to the site was an Alzheimer's Stage group. It helps me keep up with how the disease is progressing in my ex -husband. Very, very useful.

Lots of information on arthritis, on heart disease and no telling what else. Anyway, you might want to check it out. They can also assist you in finding a Senior Living facility, assisted living, whatever your need happens to be.

One of the things I had wondered about was what it would cost to get some respite help. I knew we couldn't afford respite care right now, but my curiosity lead me to click on a link. All it said was "What does it cost for help? You will receive an email." By now I was figuring they were going to send me ads for nursing homes. This was the middle of the night, so I just went to bed and forgot it.

About 8:00 a.m. the next morning, my phone rang. A woman introduced herself, and said "I just received a fax saying you need help." Naturally I told her I couldn't afford help.

"Does he have medicaid?", she asked. Yeah, he does. "Don't worry about it then. Medicaid will pick up the whole cost. You can have help up to 14 hours a week."

Holy Toledo, Batman. This site didn't just promise "pie in the sky". They contacted the correct agency and got the ball rolling.

I'm going to get 14 hours to do something for ME? Wow. The nurse is supposed to be here today to fill out the papers. Then it will be a week before it can start. So by next week, my hair will no longer be hanging in my eyes like an English Sheepdog, I can go exercise and maybe have lunch with the girls. She said I could even take off of an evening to attend my favorite 12-step program.

In case you want to check them out, here's the link:

Friday, April 6, 2012


Living with someone who has alzheimer's can be a nightmare for some caretakers.  Actually I had decided, the day of the diagnosis, it was something I could get through without losing my mind. But I also knew the only way that would happen was to not only keep, but to hone my sense of humor.

As we sat in the car, outside the memory clinic, I told Alan what the doctors had said. I told him "We can get through this if we laugh our way through it."

First of all, I now know he didn't totally understand the implications. Secondly, he didn't believe it. That was a lifetime ago. In actuality it's only been five months. You know how time flies when you're having fun? Let me tell you time drags on and on when you're not having fun.

I have one huge advantage…I was an only child and rarely had other kids to play with, so I learned how to amuse myself without having anyone I could talk to except my trusty dog. He couldn't talk back to me. It's rather like living with someone who has alzheimer's, except the dog was more fun and was trainable.

We have a new game that's very interesting. I have fought the battle of trying to get the cat back in the house for months now. He kept escaping whenever Alan went outside and then it would take sometimes hours to get the cat back inside. It kept me upset, which was my fault for buying an expensive cat in the first place. I was worried about the cat being outside and was determined he was going to be an inside cat, so he'd be safe. Alan would even get up in the middle of the night, open a door and stick his head out just to see if it was cold outside. It was. And the cat would slip right by him and be stuck out in the cold the rest of the night. I wouldn't become aware he was out, until I woke up in the morning without the cat biting me.

I decided, to keep my sanity, I was going to have to give up this battle. So I started letting the cat outside every morning. He loves playing in the yard, chasing butterflies and grasshoppers, and he stays in the front yard. I leave the door in my sun room open so he can go in and out.  Then I keep him in sometime in the afternoon, check him over for ticks, brush him and we all take a nap.

The game immediately changed. Alan now stays busy trying to get the cat back in and closing my sliding glass door. I constantly have to make him open my door back up so the cat can get in. Reminding him of ANYTHING has to be done every few minutes most of the time. But he just can't stand seeing that cat outside. He worries, he chases the cat, he closes the door, he opens the door…which is rather amusing considering the game has done an about face.

Everyone knows how cats just love to play chase, so they're both much happier now. Cat chases butterflies and Alan chases Cat. WHEEEE!