His First Year


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June:  Losing proposition

What started out as short-term memory problems and some confusion is now progressing to the point where in some important ways your loved one is no longer who they were. The disease is stealing them away, bit by bit.

And that hurts. This is actually a major part of the reason that both John and Jim became the primary care-providers for their respective mothers-in-law: it was easier on them emotionally than it was on their wives. Because losing a parent is always hard, whether it happens suddenly or over time, whereas losing an in-law just doesn't carry such emotional baggage.

Everyone responds to this type of loss differently. Friends and family members may still be in denial, though usually at this stage that is much more difficult. Some people resort to avoidance, and so drop away from your life, contributing to your isolation. Some people get angry, but it is hard to be angry at a disease and so they (unconsciously) direct their anger at the patient or even the care-givers. And care-providers themselves will experience anger, which sometimes is turned inward and manifests as health or emotional problems.

So, slowly your loved one is disappearing, and at the same time your support system (friends, family) is too. The pressure has ratcheted up a notch, and you can feel it, see it starting to have an effect. You start to look for other options, other solutions which might be able to help.

We hadn't yet learned that there were many other benefits out there that we qualified for, and wouldn't be able to find the necessary documentation to *prove* that we qualified for (e.g., Georgia's marriage certificate to prove she was married to Kathi's father for the veteran's benefits).

We also hadn't realized the impact that our eating out would have – the number of times we ate out had now increased to daily.

Kathi began laying out clothes for Georgia to wear, and sometimes Georgia refused to wear what was chosen. Other times, I think Kathi may have been exhausted and not caught a few potential clashes...so began my instant education on the home version of "what not to wear" as I began to help Georgia select clothes and get dressed in the mornings.

On cold mornings, I'd pre-warm some of her clothes using a nearly-cylindrical heater – something that Georgia really, really liked. (Who doesn't like putting on nice warm clothes on a cold morning?) If I knew I was going to see a client and would have Georgia with me, I'd coordinate the outfits, usually putting us each into something that involved a jacket. That started our visits to Kathi at work, initially in order to ensure that I was matching us up properly and then later simply to bring a smile into her day (or to tweak her, as appropriate).

Eventually, I took over choosing Georgia's clothes for the day, and actually learned a little something about matching outfits in the process. It began slowly, with minor adjustments here and there to Kathi's selections if things didn't seem to “go” together once Georgia was dressed, and progressed to matching outfits (at least in terms of styling) when I began taking Georgia on various consulting engagements with me to give her something to do and still keep an eye on her. This was, of course, before she got enrolled into an Adult Day program.


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