Each week I attend an Alzheimer’s support group, along with about fifteen other spouses of husbands and wives with dementia. Many of us share the same stories. As new people come into the group, they ask the same questions we once asked, seeking advice and hope.
We all learn eventually that the best we can hope for is to take good care of our loved ones. The end is the same for everyone. There is no cure.
Looking around this group at one meeting, it struck me that they are steadfast men and women, standing by their vows to the end, sometimes with help from their families, sometimes in spite of them.
We learn to help our mates rise, bathe, dress, groom, eat, and move about. Those are the “activities of daily living.” Some people with dementia require assistance for all of them, some don’t. We learn to do things we never thought we would be doing, or wanted to. But we do it out of love. We do it because they need it. We try to make their lives as pleasant and comfortable as possible, even if there is no hope of improvement.
When I hear some of the members of the support group tell how they help their spouses, playing games with them, finding ways to keep them entertained, finding ways to make their days pass pleasantly, I have to admit I wasn’t as good at it as they are. Some of the things I learned from them came too late, after my wife was already gone. I still attend the support group, hoping that I can share an experience to help someone else who needs to know it.