The second time around, I was caregiver for my husband when he was diagnosed with dementia, probably Alzheimer’s, our daughters were married with their own families, so basically, I was the lone caregiver. He needed me to be around for a large part of the day and I was. This was very different from caring for a son with schizophrenia. My husband and I had been happily married for 51 years and had collected five grandchildren, two grand-dogs and a grand-cat along the way.
Friends warned me to take care of myself because Alzheimer’s can be a long term illness. Joining a support group was a good move as I found myself amongst people who were in the same position, felt free to ask questions and discuss relevant problem which left me less overwhelmed and far less alone. I made a very good friend there who has become like my family.
I made a point of inviting friends over in order not to isolate my husband and we went out a couple of times a week. He often dozed off, but he enjoyed seeing some night life on the outside of our apartment. He loved walking and never failed to point out a beautiful flower or a tree in full bloom. When the stress became too much for me and I felt the need to go out on my own, I made the necessary arrangements.
A myriad of emotions came into play when I was caring for my husband. I wanted what was best for him, wanted it with my whole heart. I remember the feelings of resentment – why my husband? It distressed me to see the expression of disbelief on his face at times when he was unable to remember something, He had always had a phenomenal memory. There were days when I experienced a host of different emotions within a period of hours, like a see-saw.
My late husband’s geriatric neurologist barely glanced at me during our appointments and seldom asked questions. I feel that she should have done so as I might have been able to clarify many issues. But, my late husband’s family physician always inquired about my health and how I was coping. I wonder whether he realized how important it was to me that he cared.