Respite Care

I'm really beginning to see a new decline in Jerry. In the past he would have periodic declines after particularly busy days, but he would bounce back after a few days of rest. Now, I'm not seeing a bounce back. This may be the beginning of his slipping over the edge. Who knows. But, I know it's coming eventually. The other day, I started a blog post and stopped, realizing I needed to take a vacation from Alzheimer world. It was so refreshing to my mind and spirit. Respite is one of the most important tools for survival.

I know I have new readers, so I would like to address my respite journey. Actually, the first attempt at having someone else care for Jerry was when I was still working. I didn't feel comfortable leaving Jerry for very long. I had scaled down my working hours substantially, but on occasion I needed to be gone for 8 hours. So, I searched adult day care programs which were totally depressing. Most were filled with pretty advanced alzheimer folks and I knew Jerry was not ready for that. Finally, I found one with an array of disabled people who were quite young. Jerry had men his age who were stroke victims, or other challenges but still had their mental faculties. The staff was energetic and fun. Lots of games and exercise and sometimes visitors who played music, etc. It was a good fit.

The way I broke it to Jerry was that he still had a contribution to make and this could be his service project. As a "volunteer" he could help with exercising the elder folks, and just visit with them and make them smile. He always enjoyed visiting with people. The first day, I felt like a real schlep leaving him. When I drove off, I felt like a mom leaving her preschooler for the first time. It was, yet, another emotional step in this disease.

When I finished work, I checked my phone messages and they had been trying to reach me. Jerry had run away! We were all freaked out! What happened was that during mealtime, Jerry was suppose to help serve the meals. When he went back to the kitchen, he slipped out the back door and walked 4 miles home. Jerry knew what was happening and he didn't like it.

Once I found out Jerry was ok, I became livid. Not at the respite people but at Jerry. I was so mad that I couldn't go home, because I knew I would raise my voice. So, I went to a friend's house to calm down for an hour.

Eventually, Jerry and I had some serious conversations about how I needed his help and cooperation in order to work until retirement. I was honest with him about my wanting him to be safe and that since he was still able, he truly could be of service to the people at this day care. He finally agreed and eventually came to enjoy the friends that he made there.

That was 5 years ago.

Needless to say, things have progressed since then. If we were still in Raleigh, I would have him go to that wonderful place a couple of days a week. But since we live down here, I've had to take the private companion route. That's working out well for now but it is more expensive and quite a challenge finding the right person. We can't just stick our sweethearts with anybody, ya know.

My goal is to have Jerry stay with me as long as possible. Right now, it's working out fine. However, seeing his decline, seeing his eyes become more vacant, I know the next step will be here before I know it. Not that I'm going to become obsessed with it, but I've at least got to explore them options out there in case it comes to a point that I can't handle it.

Well. Jerry just came down the stairs. It's morning and he always does better in the morning for an hour or so. I'm always the first one he sees and his eyes light up. This morning, he came "running". (We watched Dear John last night and I think he remembered their embraces.) Sooooo, with that said, I think I'll go hop up in his arms and let him swing me around. KIDDING!