This caregiver needed a caregiver this month after I let myself get sucked into a computer scam that flattened me. The backstory is posted here.
I needed my husband’s shoulder to cry on, but although physically present, he just couldn’t grasp the enormity of what happened. And, yes, I blame myself for not taking better care of me. If I’d been at full throttle I don’t think I would have fallen for the scam.
During this time, a new report arrived from the Alzheimer’s Association. Two sentences stood out:
Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll on caregivers. Nearly sixty percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high; about forty percent suffer from depression. …
I knew the scam and resulting mess were the tip of the iceberg, but it was my husband’s quickening decline that had caused me to sink. No place to go but up.
Up was blue sky after a snow squall, warm spring breezes after frigid weather, a temporary leveling out of Peter’s downward spiral — a few days of normal.
Against advice from experts and people who’ve walked in my shoes, I’ve dropped a lot of my outside activities, choosing instead to stay close to home with my husband. One thing I haven’t dropped is the Writers’ Group I’ve belonged to for six years. We meet one evening a month. When I came home after this month’s meeting, Peter was watching t.v. as always, but, curiously, he’d closed all the interior doors and had taken three loaves of frozen bread from the freezer, thrown the wrappers away, and left them to thaw in the bread drawer. Nothing terribly significant, but my alarm button tripped. I knew that was the last time I could leave him on his own for an evening.
My stress level peaked again. There was still more work to be sure all the scam-caused problems were resolved, and I had to accept that I needed more help at home.
A few nights later, when I tapped Peter’s leg with my foot to stop his snoring, he growled, jumped out of bed and plodded downstairs. He was gone nearly ten minutes. When he came back, he rolled under the covers was asleep instantly.
Last night he talked in his sleep. He started doing that occasionally several months ago. “Hello,” he said. He sounded wide awake. “Oh…I’m OK…I’m just trying to remember…yes…I know….” Abruptly, he was asleep again.
Were these episodes signals that night terrors and sundowners had crept in? I didn’t know, but there was no doubt we needed another caregiver in addition to Bill, Peter’s occasional companion of nearly four years.
This morning, when I told Peter about his “phone” conversation in the night, he said, “Not me! I don’t talk on the phone.” True, he’s hates phones. But it was funny to hear him doing in his sleep what he never does awake.
We caregivers take our laughs where we find them, even if it’s a dreamtime call in the middle of the night.
Header photo: The British Museum, 2006