I have been a caregiver off and on for over forty years, first for my mother, then my father, followed by my sister, my first husband and now, Charlie – my second husband.
When I read posts from others on the AgingCare site I realize how lucky I have been. While they seemed daunting at the time I was gong through them, my experiences pale in comparison to what some of you are going through.
It really is frightening to read some of the horror stories from other caregivers.
Compared to them, Charlie is—so far—a piece of cake, and I realize I have a lot of nerve to complain and feel sorry for myself.
But it certainly makes me wonder what I am in for down the road. Charlie says he plans to live to be 94 (he just turned 80) and, given the changes in his dementia in the past four years, I can see it isn't going to be pretty fourteen years from now.
But then, like I keep telling him, I don't plan to stick around that long. My family genes, for the most part, don't lean toward that kind of longevity.
So the question becomes: What will happen to him if something happens to me?
This is a second marriage; we celebrate our tenth anniversary in July. My children have no obligation to care for him if I precede him in death. He has two adopted children who do not live near us and, for several reasons, are unlikely to be able to care for their father.
If Charlie out-lives me, then I am quite certain that assisted living will become his lifeline. That's why we've looked at some facilities in the area, to get an idea of what is available, and to get Charlie in the mind-set about the possibility of AL in his (our) future.
For now, he says he isn't going if he can't find a place that overlooks forestland or a wild life preserve. If and when the time comes, I'm not sure that option will be available. Transition is always difficult for the elderly, so I can only hope he will not have the presence of mind to care about such things when it's time to make a move.
As for me, for now at least, I am flexible in my thinking. I have always told my children that they should not hesitate to put me in a nursing home when I begin the downhill slide.
Well – it has already begun, but you know what I mean.
I wouldn't wish on them, or anyone, the things the elderly can put their caregivers through.
I pray I can outlive Charlie, if only to make his life easier, with little need for adjustment to various lifestyles over the few remaining years.
For now, life could be worse. This has become my daily mantra.