Challenges of living alone with dementia versus being in a couple.

Damian’s guest blog yesterday was one that focussed on issues between couples when one has dementia.

No one gives you a handbook when you’re diagnosed and one of the most difficult things for couples to accept is that you will need help and support and ‘training’ on how to support a loved one with such a diagnosis. It must be a difficult concept to come to terms with. After all here is someone you may have lived with for 20-30 years – why on earth would you need training? But why wouldn’t you need training on how to support someone with a complex brain disease?

Training and support for couples in the practicalities is something else that’s sadly lacking post diagnosis.

It got me thinking about how lucky I am, in many ways, to live alone. It’s a family joke that my eldest daughter, Sarah, moved out of my home on the day I was diagnosed. This wasn’t due to Sarah ‘running for the hills’ at the prospect of what lay ahead, but a happily made decision to set up home with her partner.
However, it was actually a blessing in disguise. When you live with someone, it’s quite natural for one to move things around, tidy up, be messy – all of which would be unhelpful for me.
It’s human nature to do things for the kindest of reasons but which would annoy the hell out of me in reality.
I’m an independent kinda person who likes to be left to her own devices. I used to be really tidy and not have papers everywhere, however, if I now file papers away, they no longer exist. So on my stairs at the moment are various bits of paperwork where the subject matter is still outstanding. All the paperwork around me moving house is there – because I havn’t moved yet; all the paperwork that would normally get filed away because I would remember to deal with it is still there until it’s happened – then it can be filed away.

I’m fortunate in so far as I was always an organised person so I havn’t had to learn that new skill.

The worktops in my kitchen are far more cluttered than they ever used to be. Each week I lay out paperwork that I need for the coming week. My calendar gets stuffed with paperwork relevant for each month so I don’t forget to deal with it.
Notes lay strewn everywhere to remind me to do things or as a reminder that something is happening.
If there was someone else living in the house, it may become impractical or seen as a nuisance, maybe annoying or something may get moved accidentally – all of which would lead to confusion.

I don’t have someone rushing me or questioning why I can’t remember something.
I don’t have to give excuses or reasons for my action.
I don’t have someone doing things for me because it’s quicker
I don’t have someone fussing when I’m having a bad day
I don’t have someone urging me to eat when I’m not hungry
I don’t have to think whether I’ve upset them
I don’t have to worry that I’m having to do things differently
I don’t have to worry about being slow
I don’t have anyone correcting me when I get the wrong word or date or name
I don’t feel like I’m letting anyone down
I don’t have to justify why I’m behaving as I am.

However, there are things that I miss…….

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I don’t have that hug available when things go wrong
I don’t have that someone to help jog my memory
I don’t have that support when I find things difficult
I don’t have that back up brain to remind me
I don’t have the constant company
I don’t have that someone to laugh with
I don’t have someone to switch off the cooker when I forget…..😳

image

But all in all, I enjoy my own company and am happy to muddle along alone and my daughters are only a ‘whatsapp’ away………..how the world has changed…….

Not sure why or how Snoopy has come to mind but used to love Snoopy years ago😊
Not sure why or how Snoopy has come to mind but used to love Snoopy years ago😊

Damian has done some brilliant work with couples in York with a programme called ‘ Getting along’ – more can be found at:

 

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About wendy7713

On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. I may not have much of a short term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget. I’m 58 years young, live happily alone in Yorkshire, have 2 daughters and I’m currently still in full time employment in the NHS. However, I’m now in the process of taking early retirement to give me a chance of enjoying life while I’m still me. I've started this blog to allow me, in the first instance, to write all my thoughts before they’re lost. If anyone chooses to follow my ramblings it will serve as a way of raising awareness on the lack of research into Alzheimer's. It will hopefully convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure – the end is inevitable. However, I’m also hoping I can convey that, although we've been diagnosed, people like me still have a substantial contribution to make; we still have a sense of humour; we sill have feelings. I’m hoping to show the reality of trying to cope on a day to day basis with the ever-changing environment that dementia throws at those diagnosed with the condition. What I want is not sympathy. What I want is simply to raise awareness.

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