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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Learning to Dance in the Rain December 20, 2014

As the darkest day of the year approaches, as the cold increases even here in sunny Arizona, I find it tempting to curl up with a good book and wait for the storm to pass. 
Emotionally as we caregivers to loved ones who have Alzheimer's disease or other progressive, debilitating diseases watch our husbands, wives or parents decline, we, too, seem to be waiting for the storm to pass. We imagine what our lives will be like once this caregiving is finished, while, at the same time we dread the loss of the loved one we cherish.
I have been waiting for the storm to pass for several years now, ever since my husband's personality changed and he became angry and aggressive and has to live away from the lovely, handicap accessible home we built for him to live out his final years.
What keeps you from moving forward in life? What storm are you waiting to see pass before you move on?

As I see each skill my husband loses, I mourn and I wait. What will he forget next? Will his moments of lucidity return? Will he recognize me when I visit today as he did yesterday? Or will he turn from me and follow a caregiver into another room and sit contentedly among the other television viewers on the couch?

But now I also see that my husband is lovingly cared for in a small intimate environment and that his life is more stable. I also am beginning to see that life is not in waiting for the storm to pass but in learning to dance in the rain.

In the Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support group I facilitate with my son Steve by my side, we have a cadre of eight members who have attended the group for more than two years. Others come and go as they feel the need, Slowly during this time, bonds have formed between individual members of this group and certainly the comraderie we find in supporting each other has become very important to all of us. We look forward to our twice monthly meetings and this time we did something different.
A man attended our group for a while whose wife has Alzheimer's disease. We suggested avenues of assistance for him; we distributed pamphlets, we shared our experiences. He brought the menus for his pizza parlor and invited us to visit his establishment, two miles from our meeting place. 
Yesterday, seven of us went, after our meeting, for pizza and other delicious Italian foods. He was there, as was his wife, whom he cannot leave alone at home. Although he is waiting for approval from the state to place his wife in a residential facility, we are learning to walk together, in rain or shine.

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