Monday, April 17, 2017

"You Need to Go Home"

It's been a rough few days. Jim has needed more than the typical attentiveness from me. I'm tired, but cannot sleep, which is unusual for me. Jim doesn't know who I am. But he is certain I am not Carole.

Jim's anxiety has been pretty high the last few days. This has required super high attentiveness on my part. It requires a presence; not just being in the house with him, but being in close proximity. I tire of the endless TV that helps to keep him entertained. My relief from the endless stuff on TV is my beloved math puzzles, KenKen. I love the challenge, and it actually is relaxing to me. I print one out, put it on a clipboard and go to town on solving it. My favorite ones are the 9x9, with 4 operations, expert level. I can claim no credit for my skills in this department; I inherited my math skills from my dad.

But today was different.  Jim took the clipboard from my hand and made some disparging comment. So, I set it aside, and focused on the mindless TV show he was watching. So much of what he said today was nonsensical. As I listened to him talk, it was almost like I was observing someone with a psychiatric break in reality. But that is what dementia can sound like. Words put together that don't make sense.

This is so incredibly sad. Jim doesn't know I am Carole, his wife. Who does he think I am? When I attempted to show him our wedding picture, rings etc, it did not change his thinking.

We finally went to bed, but he could not sleep. At one point he said "You have to go home."

Me: "I am home. I am here in our home that we have shared for many years."

Jim: "You're confusing me. You need to go home."

Me: "Why don't we wait until the morning to sort this out?"

Jim: "But you can't sleep in this bed. There is a third party...."

So, I said that I would sleep on the sofa because it was so late, and we would figure it out in the morning. He accepted this.

What will tomorrow morning bring? I don't know.

Most days I feel strong, and I know that I can do this. But in weak moments like tonight, I question myself and my ability to stay strong. I know we need help. And there is comfort in knowing that help is on the way.




Friday, April 14, 2017

Another Week in the World of Dementia

I've mentioned before the difficulty Jim has getting ready for the day. He struggles through the process, often saying "I don't know what to do next.". The hardest part for him has been getting dressed. He will go through several changes of clothing, sweating profusely, and experiencing a lot of anxiety in trying to pick out his clothing. My efforts to help him during this process have not been helpful to him, and seem to only add to his anxiety.

I made a wonderful discovery that seems to help! When he first gets up, he has a couple cups of coffee while watching Morning Joe on TV.  While he is sitting on the sofa watching TV, I quietly go into our bedroom, make the bed (an unmade bed is unsettling to him), and lay out his clothing for the day. I then hang a fresh towel by the shower, and put his toothbrush and shaver on the bathroom counter.

I had no idea! I've done this for the last 4 days, and it has worked beautifully. Apparently my presence while he was trying to pick out his clothing just added to how overwhelmed he felt. Now he walks into the room, everything is laid out for him, removing the anxiety producing effort of clothing selection. Such a simple solution that is working well, at least for now.

About a week ago, I had a precious few hours to myself when his friend Mike came by and picked Jim up for lunch. This week it was not successful. In no uncertain terms, Jim made it clear that he did not want to spend time with Mike. It sure was disappointing to me.

Jim is sticking to me like glue these days. As his dementia progresses I'm guessing that his anxiety is worsening as well. Perhaps he finds greater comfort in staying close to me. I'm finding the patience however, as I know that his appointment is coming soon. Once his anxiety is better controlled, I'm guessing that he'll tolerate being away from me for a bit.

I've decided to defer scheduling any appointments or making any firm plans for myself, until this can get resolved.

Yesterday I suggested that he check our mailbox to see if any mail was delivered. He happily agreed, put on his jacket and walked out the door. (Side note: I never worry about Jim wandering off. He is fearful of getting lost and would never wander off without me.) Meanwhile, I am taking care of some laundry. Jim comes back into the house:

Jim: "The mailbox is gone!"

Me: "The mailbox is gone?"

Jim: "Yes! I don't know where it is!!"

Me: "Let's go look together."

As we exit the house through the garage Jim walks over to my car.

Jim: "I'll look in your car."

Me: "Let's look at the end of the driveway."

We walked down the driveway together. He seemed absolutely amazed to see the mailbox. I'm not sure what happened. Did he even make it to the end of the driveway the first time? I don't know, but it  was another sad reminder of his memory loss of things that were once so familiar.

Jim's eyeglasses were broken beyond repair. They are bifocals, with a slight correction for distance, but primarily used for up close. He has several pair of "readers", but he was insistent that he get a new pair of glasses. I knew this was going to be a challenge.

I timed the xanax so that he would have the most benefit for the car ride and the actual appointment. His eyes were examined, and he picked out a nice pair of glasses, almost identical to his broken ones. Then comes the sticker shock. Frames were $245, and the lens were $310. Ouch!

We returned a week later to pick up the glasses. I timed another xanax to help him through this appointment.  Jim tried the glasses on, and long story short, he didn't like them. The optician was very good with Jim (I had given her one of my companion cards). He insisted that the frame was "not straight enough". After many attempts at adjustment, it became clear that Jim was not going home with these glasses.

The next day I called her out of earshot from Jim, and was able to get a refund on the frames, but not on the custom lens. Since then, Jim has asked a couple of times about glasses. I simply say that the optician is trying to locate the exact frame that he wants. I think he will eventually just let it drop. He has some good quality readers for up close, and the distance correction is minor.

The reason for sharing this story is because I surprised myself by how well I handled the eye appointment. In the past, I would have been totally stressed during the appointment with the optician. However, I was internally very calm. I think I am getting better at this. My conversation with myself: "No one died. We all get to go home in one piece, and it is not the end of the world. So just let it go, it just doesn't matter."

And so it goes, another week in the world of dementia. Nothing too exciting or earth shattering. I'm learning so much. As Jim finds his way through this next stage of his life, I'm glad I can be here to share this part of his journey.

Another post is written. Thanks for stopping by. As always, my heart feels lighter to be able to share with my dear readers. Thanks for listening.





Saturday, April 8, 2017

Dementia Challenges; Rising to the Occasion

Well, it has been interesting since returning home from Florida. I realize now that I never should have traveled to FL. It definitely was a judgement mistake on my part. I'm certain that my judgement was clouded by the dreaded winters in upstate NY. And sure enough, it was a typical, brutal winter. But in retrospect it was not worth it. We are done with travel, and I am OK with it.

Jim's dementia continues to decline. It is such a sad thing to see. Lately, his memory struggles quite frequently with how he knows me:

"How long have you been here?"

"Are you sure we are married?"

I go through the details, showing the marriage license and our photo on the piano. He accepts that this is the reality for that moment, until he forgets again.

He also asks a lot about our last dog:

"Where is our dog?"

"Why isn't our dog here?"

It is heartbreaking to have to keep breaking the news to him that our beloved Jack is gone. 

Dementia is a cruel disease. No concern for the person afflicted, or for those who love them.

Some encouraging news about driving and Jim's car. As I mentioned before, he was certain that the black Accord (his car) belonged to Mike, our friend who kept an eye on our house while we were in FL. After realizing that his perception was not going to change, I decided to go with it. The Accord is at Mike's house. We are now a one car family. This is a huge relief! It essentially solves the driving concern, at least for the most part. 

Yesterday we were headed to the mall and he said that he would like to drive. I responded "How about if I drive there, and you can drive home?". He accepted this, and as I thought, he completely forgot about this and I drove going home. 

If things go as I expect, at the end of the month I'll sign the car over to Mike. It is such a relief to be down to just one car. I've notified those who need to know to not ask Jim about his Accord. 

Jim's anxiety is very much present every day. I have some of the anti-anxiety pills left, but I am hoarding them for when he needs them the most. I just need to make it until we see the gerontologist at the end of this month. If we have nothing planned (no visitors, no appointments etc) I can usually manage his anxiety without the pills. But any variance to this, and help is needed. His anxiety when I am driving is almost unbearable for me. Without an anxiety pill:

"You almost killed 3 people!"

"You were going 100 MPH!"

"You could have killed us!"

It's all so real to him. In his mind, all of this is true. I can't imagine how hard it must be to be inside his extremely anxious brain. 

Getting ready for the day is extremely difficult for him. I try to anticipate his needs as much as possible, but I'm not always successful. I believe he is heading toward the moderately severe stage of dementia. Every morning, it seems he needs more and more help with getting ready. Yesterday he shaved twice (morning and evening) but never brushed his teeth. He had no idea what he needed to do next to get dressed after his shower. 

He gets very upset if I cannot figure out what he is trying to tell me. "Don't give me that! You know what I mean!" I  almost have to be a mind reader. Sometimes I can figure out by the context of the situation. 

I did a trial run with Mike spending time with Jim last Wednesday. I was able to get my hair done (I was desperate!), got my car washed, and stopped at the store for some groceries. I was gone for about 3 hours. Jim did OK, but not great. And this was after giving him xanax before I left. Mike told me that he was getting pretty antsy, wanting me to get home. Having that short period of time to myself was heaven. It felt so good. 

Once Jim gets some help from Dr. S. for his anxiety, I anticipate that I'll have better flexibility for some time to myself. Priorities include support group, seeing my mom, and my own Dr. appointments. 

I have to admit that the times when Jim falls asleep for a nap during the day it feels glorious! He is asleep right now, which gives me the freedom to write this post. I would describe my days as being in a state of hyper-attentiveness. I must always be ready to be there for him. 

Communication skills continue to challenge both of us. Yesterday morning:

"Where is my watch?!?" (Obviously in a lot of distress)

I knew that he hadn't worn a watch in over 15 years.

Long story short, he finally found a white t-shirt, picked it up saying "There's my watch!"

I am learning that when I speak to Jim, it is very important to speak slowly, with frequent pauses. This gives him a better chance at processing what I am saying. Also, it is important to give minimum information, keeping it all very concise and simple. I'm getting pretty good at doing this. I've learned so much on this dementia journey!

The challenge now is to find activities that keep him contented. If we attempt to go someplace, even if just to the grocery store, the anxiety rises to a high level, making it so difficult for him. If we stay home all day, he is "bored to death". I'm holding out a lot of hope for help from Dr. S. for Jim's anxiety. 

One of my favorite blogs by Dr. Elaine Eshbaugh inspired me. She wrote about the brain working very hard to interpret surroundings when you have dementia. This process is exhausting. This makes it difficult for the person with dementia to control their impulses and emotions. Elaine points out that while we as caregivers may say we are having a hard time when this occurs, the person with dementia is really having a hard time. I've learned so much from her.

Dementia challenges; I choose to rise to the occasion. This journey could be characterized as a sad, lonely and long one. But as Jim and I go forward, I'm appreciating the joy that we can still find in life. And I am ever so grateful for all the support I am receiving along the way.

Well, another post is written. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate each and every one of my readers.








Saturday, April 1, 2017

Mr. Dementia and Jim Return Home

It's good to be home. We've been home for 5 days and we are settling in.

The morning we were preparing to leave FL, Jim managed to bump his head twice, really hard. It quickly turned into "Why did you hit me in the head three times?" He was so angry at me. In his mind, I had indeed hit him in the head, so of course he was very angry.

Remembering that you can't reason with someone who is incapable of reasoning, I simply apologized and said it was an accident. It did not do anything to dissipate his anger. It was especially worrisome given that he had already had one of his anti-anxiety pills. I knew we were in for a long, difficult day. And remembering that Mr. Dementia is NOT Jim (and vice versa) helped me to maintain my calm. I'm not saying I wasn't stressed out (I was!), but separating Jim from dementia always helps me when I am at my lowest point. Damn dementia.

I gave him a second pill. (This part is tricky, because for years he has had a few pills in the morning and a couple of pills in the evening. Giving an extra pill means I have to make up a story about how I forgot to give him his daily aspirin.)

By now, he is pulling items from the suitcases and throwing them around.

At this point I'm wondering if we will make it to the airport. It's a long story, and it was a long day, but suffice it to say that we made it home safe and sound. A total of 4 pills were given. Without them, I know that we would have not made it home. The anxiety level was very high, even with the pills.

The "Meet and Assist" service through JetBlue was of minimal help. When I initially requested this service, I requested a notation that Jim's deficits were dementia and anxiety. I'm certain that none of this was relayed to anyone. In retrospect, I think that because Jim's deficits are not visible, people assume that we are OK. At check-in we were supposed to be met by a helper. Didn't happen. The clerk eventually found someone to help us, but this young woman also was assisting an elderly couple, one of whom was in a wheelchair. The woman barely glanced at us, never said a word, and proceeded to ignore us the whole way to security. The one thing that was helpful, was that by following her, we easily found our way into the prescreened TSA line; we did not need to remove shoes, take out laptops etc.

There were a couple of tense moments. I needed to use the restroom. I situated Jim directly across and asked him to just wait until I came out. Unfortunately there was a long line. I went back out, warned Jim that it would take quite a while due to the long line. I worried the whole time. He was OK by the time I was done. I did not see one of those "Family Restrooms", which would have been perfect; we could have gone in together.

Prior to boarding, I went up to the desk (alone) and asked if we could board first, giving an explanation as to why this was needed. This part worked great. We were the first to board, giving us a chance to settle in prior to the regular boarding.

When we arrived home, Jim seemed to remember everything about our house, with the exception of new furniture that we purchased last summer for our great room. He still keeps asking "who bought this?".

While we were in FL, our friend Mike would come over weekly to do a walk through of the house and to start Jim's car (Honda Accord). Mike used the empty bay in our garage to store his mustang convertible. Mike took his Mustang home prior to our arrival.

Jim is totally confused about his Accord. He insisted that the car is not his, that it belongs to Mike. Showing him the title, the registration, bill of sale etc all in his name did not convince him. He had a brief time period two days ago when he realized that it was his car, but that did not last long. Part of his confusion may stem from the fact that he knew Mike was going to store one of his cars in our garage over the winter. So maybe he transposed some of the facts, thinking the Accord was the car Mike stored...I really don't know.

So, the plan is to wait out the weekend, and if Jim still thinks that the car belongs to Mike, then Mike will take it home with him. This certainly would solve the issue of driving. My concern is that with Jim's car gone, will he want to buy another one? Or, will he suddenly remember that the Accord is his, and wonder where it is?

In the back of my mind, I've always known that eventually I wanted Mike to have Jim's car. Mike and Jim are both car nuts. Jim's Accord is a beautiful black,sporty, V6, two door coupe. It only has about 28,000 miles on it, so still like new. If Mike could have this car now, it might solve the problem of Jim driving, and Mike could start driving and enjoying the car now so that it doesn't develop problems from disuse. We'll see how all of this plays out.

Jim  needs some minor help getting ready in the morning. "What do I do next?" Where is ...?" But all of this is fairly easy for me. I find that it takes him a very long time to get ready, including a few (sometimes several) changes of clothes. But all of this is doable. I know that much greater challenges are ahead for both of us.

It's so good to be home! And I think Jim feels the same way. Yesterday there was no need for any anti-anxiety pill. Hooray! I focus on low key, low expectations, minimal social activities, and a very calm environment. I'm hoarding the pills that I have left. We will be seeing his new doctor (gerontologist) in about 3 weeks, and I am expecting a longer acting, safer medication to help Jim with his anxiety. In the meantime he has an appointment with his eye doctor on Monday. His glasses are broken beyond repair. I have several pair of "readers" for him, but he is anxious to get "real" glasses. I know that the day will be incredibly stressful for him, so will give him one pill in the morning and one pill just before the appointment. Fingers crossed it all goes well.

Another post is written. As always, my heart feels lighter. Thanks for stopping by.




Saturday, March 25, 2017

Living In an Altered Reality

Lately, Jim has been struggling with increased anxiety and agitation late afternoons and into the evening. Over the last couple of months, I have seen a worsening of this very concerning change. It is often referred to as sundowning. This website suggests different theories of why this happens, but no one knows for sure. There is a list of possible causes and coping strategies, all of which I am taking to heart, as I try to understand and help Jim.

Confabulation is another concept I am becoming sadly familiar with. For Jim, it is more likely to occur later during the day, hence the association with sundowning.

A couple of days ago he took a nap in the late afternoon. When he awoke, he was as confused as I have ever seen him.

"Where am I?"

"How did I get here?"

(Looking out the windows toward the ocean) "What am I looking at?"

I gently answered his questions, remembering for the most part how important it is to answer simply, not overloading him with long, confusing (for him) details.

It did not go well at all. He became extremely agitated and angry.

"How could you do this to me?"

"You woke me up and painted this whole picture! What are you doing to my brain?"

Of course I hadn't woken him up. And I was simply trying to help orient him by answering his questions. But remember, you don't argue with dementia; you will lose. And you don't reason with someone who is incapable of reasoning. It will only aggravate the situation.

Jim:  "You could fix this right now!"

Me: "How?"

Jim: "You can change the picture!!!"

He was so angry at me. He truly thought that I had woken him up and given him false information about where we were and how we got here. At least that is what I think he thought. But I could be wrong about that.

When he is that agitated, it is very hard for me to keep calm internally.

I quickly realized that disagreeing with him or attempting to reason with him was not going to work. So, I did something very strange. I apologized to him for my actions. And, I told him that I was confused. And that my confusion was the cause of what happened.

What else was I to do?  Knowing how angry he was, I wanted to say something to dissipate that anger. Surprisingly he accepted this, and it helped him to calm down. He actually expressed some worry for my state of mind! ("Should you see someone about your confusion?")

Was this the right thing to do? I really don't know. But his level of agitation was quite concerning, and I was desperate.

Yesterday afternoon he wanted to take the trash down to the receptacle. He has done this before; it is a very short distance and within sight of our condo. Sparing the many painful details, when he returned, he accused me of locking our car (huh?), cursing at him (something I have never done), making him go back and forth 4 times, and putting 4 people in the back seat of our car. Oh my goodness.

He was so angry at me. But I have to realize that in his mind, all of the above is true! In his brain, in his reality, I was mean to him, so of course he is angry at me.

Confabulation; the curse of dementia.

For those who have been following my blog, you know that Jim's doctor prescribed a sedative for our flight home. The prescription provided some extra pills. In desperation, I gave him one yesterday afternoon following the above incident. He was inconsolable, and I just did not have any more rabbits in the hat. It worked.

If confabulation is the curse of dementia, sometimes amnesia can be a blessing. Jim has no recollection of the above two incidents. What I do not know, is if he carries a residual feeling of anger or anxiety. Maybe he cannot remember what happened that made him so upset, but does he remember feeling upset? I don't know.

Is there a good option out there for helping Jim with his anxiety? I hope so. The prescribed anti-anxiety pill is short acting, lasting about 4 hours. I'll be very relieved when we meet with his new gerontologist, Dr. S., and see what she can recommend.

Any time that I get tempted to feel sorry for myself, I am reminded that Jim is the one who is suffering with a damaged, dying brain; not me.

I can't wait to get home. We leave Monday. Plans are made. I received a confirmation email from JetBlue regarding the "Greet and Assist" service.

Over the last 5 days I have been gradually, intermittently talking about our flight home. It's been tricky. I can't just spring it on him at the last minute. At the same time, it's important to not overload him with too much information at any one time. Perhaps this has been the source of his increased anxiety/agitation over the last few days?

Yesterday morning he completely packed his suitcases and toiletries. I gently suggested leaving out enough clothes etc for the next couple of days. I don't think he could process what I was saying. So I just let it go. When he gets ready for his shower this morning, I'll go into his suitcase and pull out clothes for today.

All of the wonderful folks in our small community are having a pot luck on Sunday for all the snowbirds who are heading home. It will be a nice opportunity to say goodbye.

Another post is written; thank you dear readers for stopping by. The kindness from those who comment always touch my heart.






Tuesday, March 21, 2017

In the Time it Takes to Shower...

I can accomplish a lot! While Jim showered yesterday morning, I contacted JetBlue and arranged for their "Meet and Assist" service. It is available for those with special needs, whatever those needs might be. Here is a link that I found helpful.

Once we park our car, we will proceed to curbside check-in. Someone will be waiting for us to guide us through the airport, get us to the head of long lines, arrange for private security screening, and provide "silent boarding". This allows us to board first, get settled in our seats, prior to the typical mass confusion that follows with routine boarding.

There will be some down time, while we wait for boarding. I've got some of Jim's favorite Car and Driver magazines that I stashed away. He is a car enthusiast and will enjoy looking at the pictures and reading the short articles. I also will pack some snacks and drinks so that we don't have to worry about navigating the airport, trying to obtain food at the busy restaurants.

I'm not a person who cries easily. But every once in a while I catch myself with tears streaming down my face. After I hung up from JetBlue I had one of those moments. It was a combination gratitude, relief, jangling nerves, and I'm not sure what else.

I had another one of those moments when I received a call back from Jim's doctor about the need for a sedative. He graciously prescribed an anti-anxiety medication. Prior to hearing back from the doctor, I really did not know how we were going to make it home. I imagined a full blown anxiety attack at the airport, with problems going through security, waiting in line, fighting the crowds, on and on.

With the "Meet and Assist" service and some anti-anxiety medication, I think we will be OK. The doctor prescribed enough pills so that I have been able to do a test run to see how Jim responds.

Jim's language skills continue to decline. There are a lot of half started sentences that he is not able to finish:

"It's almost like ..."

"I need to ...."

"Once it will be...."

Follow up questions by me to try to understand what he is saying are generally not helpful, and actually will frustrate him more, with a response like "You know what I mean!!!"

So instead, I have been responding with vague answers myself, such as:

"Maybe..."

"I think so..."

"I'm not sure..."

This seems to work better overall; less frustrating for Jim and less frustrating for me.

I continue to learn as we walk this dementia journey. I read an article recently that enlightened me to the fact that reasoning is an ineffective strategy for someone who cannot reason. This has been a challenging lesson for me to learn. When you think about it, reasoning is the basis for a lot of human discourse. With dementia, the rules change. I still don't have this figured out completely, and probably never will. But I am slowly realizing and trying to adapt to the fact that when Jim is struggling, all my reasoning will likely have very little impact on him, other than to possibly frustrate him.

His brain is dying. But in spite of that, I still have my sweetheart. At least for now. I know that there will come a day where it will be hard, maybe impossible, to see beneath the dementia that has taken over his brain.

Until that day comes, I strive to make the best of each day and appreciate the love and the life that we share together.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

"Is My Mother Still Alive?"

This is a question that came out of the blue! It totally caught me off guard. It was incredibly sad for me as it represented a worsening of confusion. Jim's mother developed dementia in her 60's. Together, Jim and I provided care for her, and she was able to stay in her own home up until a couple of months prior to her death, following a major stroke. We had hired help during the day while we were working, and after work, Jim and I took turns spending late afternoon and into the evening with his mom. He took such good care of his mom! He was always patient, loving, caring and always wanted the best for her.

She died in 1999. When I answered his question about whether she was still alive, he accepted it, was sad, and then moved onto a different topic. It almost was like he was trying to sort out things in his mind.

Jim's level of confusion seems to have worsened over the last week. We've had daily, multiple conversations regarding where we live, what our house looks like, what cars we own, on and on. Fortunately I have pictures of the exterior of our house, as well as a couple of good pictures of our great room.

He's not been upset about it, just very confused. Within minutes of reviewing where we live and showing the pictures, he asks again, and again, and again.  It's incredibly sad to see this loss. The only saving grace about this is that it has not caused him to be angry or upset, just confused.

I have all the patience in the world! I'm not kidding. To me, this is the easy part of helping Jim with his dementia. I am a patient person by nature. And it feels good to be able to offer some reassuring, orienting information that hopefully helps him through the moment.

This morning when he woke up, he said "I've got to get going; I've got to get to work!" He was visibly relieved when I told him he was retired. He wanted to know more details, (when? from where?), and was very happy that he didn't have to go to work.

Regarding practical matters, I'm continuing to learn work arounds, as I face the challenges of Jim's decline. Lately when he makes a sandwich, he takes the knife from the chicken salad and then places it in the mayonnaise. I've thrown out a couple of jars of contaminated mayonnaise over the last week or so. It is not helpful to remind him; he will not retain that information and I risk upsetting him by the reminder ("I know that! You don't have to say that!"). So my work around is to buy mayonnaise in the squeeze bottles. No possible risk of cross contamination, and it is pretty easy to use.

Laundry is abundant! Jim has several changes of clothes as he gets ready for the day. All of the changes end up in the laundry. So the white polo shirt he put on for 5 minutes, and then took it off to put on a t-shirt, ends up in the laundry. He sweats profusely during this time period, indicating to me how stressful it is to find just the right clothes to wear for the day. I feel so bad for him. My attempts to help him pick out clothing appropriate for the weather/situation generally are not helpful for him. So, I've learned to just let him struggle through this, rather than try to help. My attempts to help just seem to add more stress.

Jim's sudden worsening of his dementia symptoms makes me wonder if there is perhaps a vascular dementia component. He was diagnosed with hypertension and high cholesterol many, many years ago (his dad died of heart disease when Jim was only 20). He was not properly treated for his hypertension, high cholesterol until he came under the care of Dr. C. So vascular dementia is certainly a possibility. In addition, he was a smoker. He finally quit, after struggling for many, many years with unsuccessful attempts to quit.

None of this really matters of course. It is more of a clinical curiosity and represents my need to understand what is happening.

Jim asked today (several times) if we could go check out his car. Each time I responded that his car was 1200 miles away, and that we had decided to wait until winter was over before heading home. Each time, he accepted this explanation.

And so, another week has passed, and unfortunately I am witness to another significant decline. I am so looking forward to going home. My plan is something that helps me to stay strong. I know that the support groups are going to be a big part of my survival in the future.

I have to give a shout out to Jabberwalky, who has been an incredible support to me, both through her blog and through our correspondence. She is the one who helped me to understand that once you have accepted your role as caregiver, things get a bit easier (it is never easy, of course). In other words rather than trying to fit caregiving into your life, you recognize that caregiving is your life. Once you have accepted that, everything else seems to fall into place and flows just a bit easier.

Writing this blog is so therapeutic for me. But I also hope that others who may be traveling this sad journey of dementia will find some support as well as camaraderie. Thanks for listening, and as always, I so appreciate each one of you.