When everyone has gone home

Please don’t go! I would think to myself as the last person left for the day from our home. When the door would close behind them, I felt very alone.

Every day around nine o’clock in the morning, friends, family and house staff would begin to gather in our home. Because our house is large, having others to help is necessary. With the uninvited occupant of Alzheimer’s Disease, our need for support increased even more. I had tried to delay bringing others in to help in Richard’s care, but it became evident that more help was needed than I could give alone.

While Richard was still able to take care of many of his needs, I wanted him to have a companion whose only focus was to show him special attention. If you are a caregiver, you will be able to read between the lines and understand the depth of responsibility required in caring for someone with dementia. If the person you are caring for is your spouse, you will also understand the gut-wrenching reality of needing to pass off any part of their care into the hands of another.

My emotions, from the morning, till nighttime and throughout the night were at their peak. One minute, all I wanted to do was gather Richard up in the car and run away so we could be alone, while the next minute, I was dreading being alone with him. The fact is, it wasn’t Richard who caused my fear, it was the disease of Alzheimer’s thrust upon us both which brought on my anxiety. So, I had to try and look at our situation with different eyes. The people who were assisting with Richard’s care were with us because God had sent them. But, while they had been called to help, they could not remove the reality that Alzheimer’s was unrelentingly robbing me of the one I loved most in this world.

Each day, a little piece of me was also dying. The realization of this fact didn’t fully hit home until after Richard had passed away. When I would speak to others about time sensitive subjects, it was as though ten years had simply disappeared. It has been a little over a year and a half since his death, and this is an area I am still trying to justify.

It has been said, “time heals all things.” This saying may be true, but I’m not sure how the absence of time can heal itself. Like a vapor, time is here one minute and gone the next. Shouldn’t we live each day in the reality that it is a gift, “for such a time as this”?

If you are caring for another person, especially if it is for someone you love, I hope you will take time for yourself during the process. Even though I was in the house during Richard’s time of care, it was important to carve out some time for an activity that had nothing to do with Alzheimer’s or any of the responsibilities that came with it. Knitting was something I had tried earlier in my life, so I hired a friend who came to the house for two hours once a week to teach me more of this art. During those two hours, I focused only on knitting and nothing else.

If you have a hobby, find time to enjoy it. Or, learn something new. It is not so much about physically removing yourself from the responsibilities of caregiving as it is, removing yourself both mentally and emotionally whenever possible. When you do, you will be more ready for things not in your control.

Precious reader, as a fellow sojourner, when life takes us to a place we don’t want to be, it is not wrong to continue to prayerfully live the life God has given to you. Alzheimer’s Disease has no other purpose than to take away from all that is good. During the time Richard suffered from its’ effects, I refused to refer to Alzheimer’s as “Richard’s disease.” It was not something he chose and neither had I. Please ask God to direct your days. He alone can see eternity at a single glance.

I will go before you and will level the mountains. I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness. Isaiah 45:2-3 NIV.