A few months ago I was having a very hard week. I didn’t think I could do this whole caregiver thing. I was overwhelmed and scared.
I did a One-On-One Session with Vicky Noland Fitch (author of Dementia with Grace). I asked her how would I know it’s time to move E into a facility.
Vicky replied, “When caring for her is affecting your marriage too negatively.” She explained that, based on what she knows about me from our talks and my posts, she thought I was doing a good job of caregiving. And she thought I have a fairly solid marriage. (She’s right.) And if my caring for E gets to the point where our marriage is being harmed, it would be time to consider a change.
That got me thinking.
Perhaps I needed a change now.
Not a change in E’s living conditions, but a change in my attitude and what I spent my time with Ron talking and thinking about.
When Ron got home from work each day I would dump my day on him. All I could talk about was what E did that day and how hard this is. I’d harp on things like dirty tissues and her feeding the dog from her plate. I needed to change that. I needed to stop talking incessantly about E. I needed to listen to him more. And I needed to find a way to set aside caregiving as soon as she was asleep so I could pay attention to my marriage.
It took effort. But it was worth effort to keep my marriage in that solid place.
I began calling him during the day just to say hi and ask how his day was going. I was careful not to talk about E during those calls.
We started going out to grab a quick dinner once a week when E was in bed. Never more than ten minutes from home, so I could be home quickly if she got up, which she never does. (Cameras are lifesavers!)
I quit complaining as much about caregiving. And I found other things to talk about.
I joined a Bible study on Sunday evenings and hired a caregiver to put E to bed. Ron is glad to be with her and feed her dinner those nights so I can go be with the ladies. But he is not comfortable helping her dress. So a caregiver comes for an hour. And I don’t have to rush home! Last week one gal and I talked for an hour and half after the meeting! It was glorious knowing she was in bed and he was there just in case.
One night as we were getting in bed I mentioned one of the fun adventures we’d gone on a few years ago. We spent almost two hours reminding each other of fun trips we have taken over our 38 years. Before that day, I had complained about how all our travels were over until E died. That night, instead of being resentful that I’m not traveling with him very much now, I spent time being grateful for all the fun times we had riding our bicycles through Chicago, New York City, Quebec, and Toronto when I was traveling with him on business trips. We talked about nice restaurants we’d eaten in and ball games we’d gone to with friends. It was so nice to reminisce about good times.
A couple of times I paid extra for a sitter to stay late because we were enjoying a night out with friends.
And this weekend we have a sitter staying at the house so I could join him at a convention he was already planning to attend. It’s a few hours from home. We had a fun time talking as we drove. And today I haven’t talked about E at all! I’ve met friends of his I hadn’t known before. I took a nap during one of the meetings. And we have laughed and enjoyed ourselves.
Nope. It’s not time to move E into Memory Care. But it is time for me to remember my marriage and my husband matter. It’s time for me to reminisce about all the amazing things he has done for me and now does to help me care for E. It’s time for me to take care of me (and my marriage) while I take care E.