I try to find solutions for others that avoid despair and in my own life I have turned the idea of giving up into the idea of modifying my goals. One of my goals was weight loss and I met the first part of the goal; now I need to modify my expectations and accept that at least during this holiday time, I will be content to maintain the progress I have made.
Another goal was to read the stack of books on my MUST READ pile ; some for a book group, some to improve my knowledge about dementia and others that are Holocaust related. Yesterday, I amended that goal and visited the library to borrow novels and mysteries so I can sit out in my backyard in the sunshine and read for my own pleasure.
I still visit my husband at the memory care facility daily even though he often doesn't know or seem to care whether I visit or not. My expectations for my visits have been reduced; I feel I go to make sure he is being trated well, that he is not in pain, that his clothing is up to my standards for him. I sort of gave up on my expectation that I can still have positive memories of him as was the case just a few weeks ago when he told my son to tell me to "sit down and stop talking" to another resident's family members.
So yesterday when I noticed that my husband's belt was not pulled through all of the belt loops and his pants were riding dangerously low on his hips, I walked with him to his room, chattering all the way and explaining to him as I rethreaded his belt. When I finished we were standing face to face. My husband looked straight at me and said, "You're getting old."
I thought, "See, he does know who I am," and I answered, "Of course I am. So are you. We both get older all the time."
He stood there a moment, gathering his thoughts. "So that's it," he said.
Perhaps he occasionally wonders why he is in the memory care center; perhaps he had a momentary understanding about advanced age as a reason. The curtain closed and I could understand no more of what he said.
But he is still "in there." He still has thoughts and feelings. We still have a relationship that is important to both of us.