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.