In the grand scheme of things.......GRACE.
Have you ever felt confused? Have you ever had a nagging pain in your neck or your back? Or have you ever tried to keep a migraine at bay?
Most of us have experienced all of those things. Think about it. When you are trying to keep a migraine at bay...it's all you can do to smile. If your back is giving you nagging pain, it's all you can do to stay upright. When you've had a confused moment...doesn't it kind of set you back a notch or two? Don't you question yourself? I do. I wonder if I'm losing it. I tell myself to slow down, keep calm and think things through. It's totally self absorbing.
I can imagine this is the way it is in the beginning to moderate stages of Alzheimer's Disease or dementia. The fact that you are aware that you are "losing it"...just the awareness...must be totally mind consuming. "No. I'm going to beat this. I'm NOT going to get confused. I'm going to keep it together." I remember Jerry saying those things. I know he tried so hard for as long as he could. It was so difficult....then add to it the self doubt, discouragement and depression that underlies it all knowing you're not who you once were. AND, fighting off knowing what lies ahead. It's unfathomably difficult.
Looking back, I regret times when my demands were too high. I regret the times I expected him to put the chair back under the table or close the cabinet doors and drawers. How much was the disease and how much were these things just laziness? I regret the frustrations that got the best of me when he just "didn't get it". Why he would let the dog in, then out, then in again. I promise I'm not beating myself up over it. How could I have known that it was a part of the disease. What did I know? I didn't know a soul with Alzheimer's disease. Every day was a new learning experience.
For all you newbies, remember the word GRACE. GRACE, emblazon it on the back of your hand so that you are reminded every day to give your loved one grace. In those AWARE days, when they know they are losing it....they need grace.....they need unconditional love and mercy. They are trying. Even when they are grumpy and negative. Even when they slap you on the butt in public. Even when they repeat themselves among friends and say things totally unrelated to the topic of conversation. They are trying to keep it together. They are trying to be normal. Whah!
Dear caregivers, I know it's hard. It is the hardest task you will ever have...to care for this loved one. But, you can do it. With God's grace and strength YOU CAN DO THIS. Our loved ones need us. This is our mission for now. The rewards will be great so keep it up. WE CAN DO THIS.