I waited until evening to write today, as I thought I would present news of my husband, but when I went to visit him, he was sleeping peacefully and I did not awaken him. The memory care unit was quiet as I sat and spoke with one of the members of my support group whose husband is also a resident.
I will speak about my book Put That Knife Away with a group of seniors on Thursday. The leader of the group phoned to remind me of the time and to report that two members will not attend as they recently lost their spouses to dementia and could not possibly listen to someone speak about Alzheimer’s disease. What is interesting about this situation is connected to a report I read online this week of the isolation of caregivers and people with dementia. Some folks are excluded from their social lives when a spouse changes his or her personality due to dementia; some caregivers still feel shame at having a spouse with dementia and feel guilty that perhaps they did not do enough to care for their loved one properly.
I hear similar stories every week. One woman cries that she should have placed her mother in an assisted living home sooner, as her mother was so relieved to be in a protected environment; another feels guilty that she wishes for some respite from caring. So when the caregiving ends, reactions differ. Some widows and widowers continue to attend group meetings, to share their experiences to support others and some are tired of so much stress; they want some entertainment, not another sad story. Let’s see what I funny stories I can tell this group which will be cheerful.