Being connected in today’s vernacular can mean anything from ‘knowing someone’ in a specific role of power or influence, or simply having ‘access to the internet’. One thing is certain; we all need connections!
Even living as a single human, it’s true, we can accomplish much, and often with surprising results but, like Robinson Crusoe, we can achieve many more satisfactory outcomes if we have a mate, a partner. We all need company; we are ‘wired’ to connect with others. Adam, notwithstanding being off to a bad start, went on in life with Eve. And most of us in our own life journey strive to make that bond with another human being.
As children we usually start the connection process with our parents, then go on to build relationships with siblings, relatives, and friends. Sometimes, for a huge range of mitigating reasons, that doesn’t happen. Sickness, even death, can intervene and break that progression. But those of us who grow into maturity will usually develop a truly amazing human network. We instinctively seek companionship from birth and later through school, adolescence, work-life, neighbours, sweethearts, fellow-travellers. Hopefully we find a soulmate and then travel together along life’s byways.
But sometimes those relationships don’t quite coalesce, or don’t last. Even in a neighbourhood-marketplace of many thousands, some of us have difficulties, often related to illness or disability, in making those essential life-affirming connections. Some may not even achieve a peaceful and loving relationship: that sought-after and vital link with a ‘significant other’.
Those who do make that link are likely to have their singular lives transformed and enriched in many wonderful, shared ways. Meeting Dorothy, marrying, and journeying through a very full, family-filled life – for well over half a century certainly carried me, us, through quite a few of life’s joys and challenges!
Then Alzheimer’s changed everything. But we were lucky, because by that time our children had received the benefit of Dorothy’s share of parenting, had left the nest and were well settled into their adult lives. It would be much worse for other families who experience ‘early-onset’ Alzheimer’s. Certainly, at any time, that diagnosis can fracture, or at best fortify, a family. At any age it can cause a void that will never be filled: what was whole becomes a hole.
Personally, I am able to find solace and healing in my understanding of a caring, not causing, God; it must be hard for those with less faith. We are all, even in this day and age (for unfathomable reasons), imperfect humans. At various stages of life, we all struggle to remain grounded, happy, and purposeful – especially when we lose our longstanding soulmate for any reason. From birth we aim to not be alone and as babies make sure our presence is known! In later life, it’s still beneficial to always have a support crew of family, friends, and/or medicos…..
If your mate is afflicted with a debilitating physical and or mental condition, whether it’s transitory or permanent, help is available, and you need to find it. Caring for another is hard work even when supported with love! Yes, I can attest, it can be confusing, daunting, tiring, scary and…. where do you start? But the fact you are reading this means you understand some of the implications. And there are links on this site to help, but only in a small way. Your first step is to have a meaningful discussion about your partner’s condition with your doctor. And talk to your parents if available, and most definitely your children. Like mine, they saw the tell-tale signs long before I did!
Take heart. Make a start. This Alzheimer’s Road could be a long one, and can get rough, you need all the help you can get – in a sensitive and practical way. Don’t ignore the signs and symptoms. Make the right connection for help. “No man is an island” is a quote by John Dunn way back in the seventeenth century and it just means the obvious: we are all ‘connected’ in some way!
We are better and stronger when we share. I found the need to connect or collapse! So, if you partner is showing any signs of Alzheimer’s…read a bit more about it, start early and finish stronger. Go…. connect, now!