Our life here is so quiet. The contrast is really marked, after being on vacation recently with J’s relatives, where there were always several people around and sometimes lots more – having people around divides the responsibility, and also provides stimulus/engagement. Now that we’re back, it’s just me most of the time. I see now how J acts more and more like a guest in my house, waiting politely for me to initiate activities. In some way, the many people around helped her not be so down – when it’s quiet at home here, the opportunity to sink into reflection and even depression is easier.
Before we left for the relatives’ house, J went through the usual apprehensions, sometimes bordering on panic, that fill the weeks before any travel, long or short. This was an important visit to keep since her family members were making a great effort to come from all over to meet for that week. Also, it was the first time J was to spend time with them alone, since developing dementia, while I attended a wedding in another part of the country. It was such a relief to have her safe and looked after while I was away, but it was hard to have confidence that the trips could even happen at all, given the level of anxiety and various physical symptoms she was having leading up to departure date. Something about the changes in her brain have led to much stronger emotional reactions to things that used to be fairly easy.
Her family helped to overlap the visit with my wedding trip so I could go on it – up until last year, J certainly would have gone with me to the wedding, but handling multiple airports and flight changes, motels, and a cast of strangers would not have been easy or fun for her, nor possible for me to manage without draining myself. I am so grateful for their help with this, and the fact that she came back from the visit in really good shape, with no meltdowns or major symptoms of stress.
Now that we’re back, I see where adult day-programming comes in. They have that sort of thing here, but I’m not sure J is ready for anything that involves other people with dementia. Eventually, she may not care or notice. But I am keeping my eyes open. The problem with regular senior center activities, of which there are many, is that she is needing someone to sort of keep an eye out, and I would hesitate to get her involved with a class or activity that didn’t automatically offer this sort of oversight. I guess we sort of fall in the gap between regular and dementia-oriented senior services.