img_4216-1“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?

I love peonies. They are the most delicate and luxurious flower. I have tried and failed to paint them many times but just recently I was asked to paint them by a special person in my life so I studied them and am making a go of it. here are the studies i am making of these beauties. I am painting with acrylics using thalo green, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow medium and titanium white. I have used a little mars black in the background as well.

Jack and the Beanstalk

A great children’s classic! Retelling this story is fun! Try starting this story with a different concept. Maybe the giant is actually friendly and it only sounds as if he says mean things. Maybe he comes down from the stalk and helps the poor? Maybe the golden egg goose stops laying eggs unless she gets 5 magic beans?

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Little Red Riding Hood Story Stones

Little Red Riding Hood. She should’ve listened to her mother and stayed on the path to take those blueberry muffins to grandma. These stones can be discussed as a moral lesson. Parents know best and have reasons behind seemingly arbitrary rules.

Try using these stones as a family game. Place them in the middle of the table and the youngest takes a stone and starts off a story. Either the well loved tale or a new one. Each family member must restate the story as they go along and add a detail as they draw their stone.

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Puzzle Stones

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In this set of story stones a little gray mouse has just taken off with a gust of wind on top of the red umbrella. The boy in the blue jacket is just almost able to reach the umbrella to save the little mouse. I am sure that the raccoon in the tree knows exactly what has happened and maybe could tell his story. Perhaps the red cardinal perched on the branch is a secret agent who knows exactly what the mouse is doing.

I think you get the idea. Begin with a character or an idea and build your story. Enjoy making different combinations.

There are no limits to your imagination.

The Three Bears Story Stones

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I began my first adventure with story stones as a gift for my grandson and I have since done several sets of stones that I have given away.

How I wish that I had taken a picture of all of them but you can’t go back and fix things like that. I’m usually only very interested in doing the art and am now reforming and trying to get interested in the art of the blog and the Internet and putting my pictures of my work out so that I can show them to people.

You might be wondering what story stones are good for. Right? The way you can use this set of story stones … The three bears… is to try to tell the story using the stones in the order that the story takes place for instance, the three Bears have just sat down to their hot porridge and they cannot eat it because it’s of course too hot so they go for a walk and during this time Goldilocks comes in and tries the porridge. Then she sits in the chairs and lays on the beds and when the three bears come home they find her in the baby’s bed asleep. It is a favorite fairytale and an old one that many people will enjoy young and old alike. The stones are meant to be enjoyed along with the story. I found that YouTube is a treasure trove of children’s stories. If you don’t have the book, check out a YouTube reading.

See if you can invent your own story. There are also games you can play but that is for another post.