If you read about care-giving for a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease, you will invariably come across advice about taking care of yourself by getting away occasionally. And you should. What most resources won’t tell you, however, is that reentry can be bumpy and sometimes may even require you to buckle your seat-belt.
I got back yesterday evening from a restorative mostly silent retreat. Before I even got to the house, I had to grocery shop or there would have been no food for dinner. I walked in and three days of mail sat untouched on the table in the entryway. The kitchen counter was piled with newspapers. The dishes in the drainer were crusty, not having been washed thoroughly. The counter was sticky, not having been wiped. Appliances were on and obviously had been on all weekend.
This despite that a student lives with us full-time and various friends spent time with J throughout the weekend.
The only thing J could tell me about her weekend was that it was oppressively hot one day. J asked me nothing about my weekend.
This is my reality. I generally find some good in living with a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease, and I’m sure I will again. Last night, however, it was hard to come home. It was difficult not to see the contrast between what it used to be like and now, and not to feel all I have lost. And yet, I’m sure I’ll leave again for a short respite and I’m sure that’s the right thing to do. Perhaps next time will be easier.