August 1, 2018

After an interval of nearly 18 months it might seem to followers that I have lost interest in maintaining this blog. I started this blog 6 years ago when my wife was in the early stages of dementia.https://labtad.com/2012/10/06/june-2012/ There had been signs that her memory had been declining for 6 years prior to that. Today is a significant anniversary in that it is 5 years ago that she entered into full-time nursing home care. https://labtad.com/2013/08/03/august-3-2013/ In that time she has declined from being ambulant, self feeding, verbal, showing emotion and interest in her surroundings, to being immobile, incontinent, non verbal, showing no emotion or response to any stimulus, except when food is presented to her on a spoon. In other words she has advanced dementia.

For the last three years, except for short breaks, I have been volunteering on a daily basis at the nursing home to help with feeding my wife at lunch time. Recently I took an extended break from this routine to spend 3 weeks in England visiting extended family and friends. My brother had asked me in December last year  if I would like to accompany him on a visit. Initially I was reluctant to say yes to the proposal  because of the advanced state of her illness. After discussing the matter with the DON at the nursing home about my feelings concerning being absent for an extended period, I came to the decision to make the trip, assured that the excellent care she has always received will continue during my absence.

I have been back now for 3 weeks and back into the routine of daily visits to assist at lunch time. My wife’s condition is just the same as it was when I went away except I would say that she is now even less responsive to my presence  than she was before I went away. This brings me to the question I have been asking myself for some months now. The question is, how can I, a reasonably fit 75-year-old, with a lot more years behind me than ahead of me, make those remaining years as meaningful, enjoyable and fulfilling without neglecting the responsibility I have for my wife. I have known for decades that I don’t do solo living with any great enthusiasm. After five years of solo living that knowledge has been reinforced many times over. The short breaks I have had in the last five years were needed but not exactly enjoyed because there was no one with whom to share it. I somehow suspect that this is a common dilemma for people in my situation. I have looked at going solo on tours and cruises but find that the solo traveller has to pay hundreds of dollars extra for the single supplement that they all add to the per person cost. More research needed to sort this out I think.

About labtad

Born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England. Migrated to Australia in 1968 and now live in an outer South eastern suburb of Melbourne. Married since 1966 to my wife who was diagnosed with dementia in 2011. I am an imperfect follower of the Christian faith who believes that most things in life happen for a reason or purpose. The last 12 years, since my wife showed the first signs of having memory problems, have gradually taught me patience, compassion and some understanding of the situations that arise when a person Is living with dementia.
This entry was posted in Caring, Dementia, residential aged care, solo living. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to August 1, 2018

  1. Dennis Degler says:

    You must be going through life’s worst trials Peter. Your choices are so difficult but you must keep giving yourself breaks. As you know I am a research chemist, and if you are interested, for your own health the following natural products have been statistically proven to protect against dementia, and in some cases to actually reverse it: turmeric, Bolvic mineral water and extra virgin olive oil. We both take these daily. Praying for you. Dennis your old Copley chum.

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    • Jennie says:

      Hello Peter, I feel it is very important for your own wellbeing to continue with your blog …. even on a weekly basis. I think you are amazing and positive in one of life’s enormous challenges and hardships. Balancing the care of your wife with your own must be so difficult and heart felt.
      It’s so important to take care of yourself and the trip to the UK would have been wonderful.
      I am heading off to China and Hong Kong next month on my own, and on a tour. There are quite a few companies that offer special deals, and cheaper solo options. I have found these to be excellent so far and not too expensive.
      Warm wishes
      Jennie

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  2. Ron and Michele King says:

    What can we say Peter? We do know a little about the solo life and neither of us enjoyed it. In fact we both found it very distressing, but nothing like you must be experiencing. We do think about you and Anne. We have very fond memories of past times when you first came to Aus. We can only imagine how difficult a situation it must must be for you and no doubt full of emotion and memories. We, along with Suzanne and John will try to catch up with you. I know Suzanne is thinking of planning something. We have slowed down a lot. Neither of us getting younger. We send much love always in the love of our Lord Jesus Ron and Michele xx

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