“Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Owlright” is a canvas bag I painted. Such a cutie!!
Dementia is progressive. It does not get better. There is no cure. And we who care for someone with dementia are at risk ourselves due to the ongoing stress of it all.
That brings me to a question I saw posed online, I think it was a writing prompt.
Wife, or Caregiver?
I think the question could be expanded to…
Husband, or Caregiver,
Daughter, Son, Granddaughter… or caregiver... and on and on.
I will speak to the spouse/caregiver because it is what I know and live.
An answer to the question is found where the lines got blurred between my husband as spouse and me as fully caregiver.
I am so glad to be able to share this information because I believe it is so helpful for the mental health of the caregiver. And, for those of you who read my blog, you know I am an artist so forgive me, a non scientist, as I get “all scientific” with my seven stages…
First I ought to say… My considering myself to be a caregiver and no longer a wife happened incrementally over the course of several years. Here are the stages we have been and are still going through:
The seven stages of my becoming a caregiver.
Stage Zero: (All spouses take care of each other throughout their marriage – sometimes one spouse needs more care… and it can’t ever be seen as equal as the spousal role is to love the other – so this stage is a reminder of that…)
Stage One. Unnoticible to those outside the husband/wife relationship: husband has small changes in his personality, husband apologizes, difficult time is covered over by husband/wife relationship. (+/- 1 years)
Stage Two. Wife confronts husband on his now more apparent personal changes, gets angry pushback. The relationship suffers. (+/- 1 years)
Stage Three. Husband is unable to concentrate on work and otherwise is acting in outlandish and inappropriate ways in his business, but, thankfully, wife is able to talk him into retiring. Still, he is able to hold a conversation, be excited about politics, and he still reads. He still drives. The family still plays games together and he can fully participate. Wife is able to talk her husband into retiring and moving out of state. (+/- 1 years)
Stage Four. Husband is acting in inappropriate ways socially and wife talks him into letting her come along to his next doctor’s appointment where he is diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. Husband no longer reads yet spends all of his waking hours watching cable news. (+/- 1 years)
Stage Five. Husband gets confused with bill paying and has trouble concentrating, begins to have problems working his television. Wife takes over all finances. (+/- 1 year)
Stage Six. Wife has husband evaluated for driving the automobile. He loses his license. Husband begins believing he is running a business and also begins thinking “he needs to go home” and will pack his bags. Wife sees that the business ideas are being stoked by his constant web surfing so wife takes away all electronic devices. Wife is able to verbally talk him out of leaving. Husband is unable to stay home alone. (+/- 6 months)
Stage Seven. Wife has now crossed over into full caregiver because husband has become incapable of understanding most things. Wife is able to manage his television viewing habits so as to have him watch for the most part, good movies and reruns of shows like I Love Lucy. Husband is now completely unable to play a family game. Husband has times of psychotic type behavior where he, in agitation, tries to escape. Will walk down the street and not want to come back. Wife has needed to call the police to come help with this problem. Husband does not wash himself even if he is in the shower and will put on the same dirty clothes afterward. Husband sleeps in his clothing. Husband cannot at times find the bathroom though there is a label on the door. Cannot find where his bedroom is. Husband will want to eat though he just ate a full meal. (3 years… and counting).
So, for me it was not wife OR caregiver. It is wife has BECOME caregiver.
It is not just a war of words, though. Tomorrow I plan to discuss how defining myself as caregiver has helped me.
Is every little thing gonna be owlright? What do you think?