We are often constrained in our caregiving effort by our own inability to understand that Alzheimer's patients are capable of more than we can imagine.
I'm sitting here thinking about my eight and a half years as an Alzheimer's caregiver. Together Dotty and I traveled an interesting path - from burden to Joy.
As I think of the first eighteen months I now realize how emotionally painful it was. How painful it can be.
There is no doubt that caring for anyone who is ill is burdensome. But caring for someone living with Alzheimer's or a related dementia can in some ways seem tortuous if you allow it to be so.
Typically, Alzheimer's patients decline slowly over a long period of time. This period of time typically lasts 7 to 8 years.
It took me a long time to realize this, even though I knew it. For the first couple of years when people would ask, how long do you think you will be doing this? I usually answered another year or two.
However, once I decided, became determined really, to keep Dotty at home to the very end if possible, my answer became very simple, at least one more day.
That is how I began to envision our life, one day at a time.