You’re not the only pebble

Maybe you’re still living together with your partner, but Alzheimer’s is affecting your life and you are wondering how this situation can keep going. Maybe you are getting, or need to get, some home help?

Getting help should be your first move. As we explore all these options, I’m going to assume that you are both on part pensions, as we were, and your partner has been ‘assessed’ as having dementia. Our doctor facilitated the process, and with that assessment in place I was then able to establish links with our local council and the Department of Human Services and start to get some home help to ease our workload as we began to develop a whole new lifestyle!

In my case, with a low-level back pain and an old shoulder injury, one hour of home help twice a week released me from a burden and ensured the cleanliness of our home………………………………………. It also gave me time!

Time to think, time to spend with my wife, time to plan and organise our lives. The cost of that service was subsidised and, elsewhere on this site we’ll discuss where to go to discover what kind of help is available and at what cost.

In this phase, where you are still both at home, it is not possible to leave your partner at home alone. Living with someone who requires constant vigilance is very demanding and extremely tiring.

So, the first major help I arranged was for house cleaning and for someone to be with Dorothy as she showered on two mornings a week – I was always fearful that she would fall in the shower! By the way, have you fitted a grab rail in the shower? The local council helped me to arrange that vital safety addition.

The twice weekly showering helper also cleaned the bathroom and toilet and did some house cleaning.

Later, in addition, I arranged for another helper to come for four hours once a week to stay as a companion with Dorothy while I attended to shopping, or visiting, or going to a movie, or going for a walk, or riding a bike or attending a club or function and lots of other activities that I could not otherwise have managed
It is vital for you to stay ‘grounded’. Having  some ‘me’ time is a vital part of healthy survival! 
Those arrangements saved me from becoming a nervous wreck!

Meals and meal preparation had been a problem for me for a long time and I had eased that burden with some pre-cooked, packaged meals from the supermarket. Preparing and cooking meals is definitely not my area of expertise! But we’ll talk about that, later…..

Meanwhile, as Dorothy’s daily life became more difficult for me to manage, I was also able to take her to a local Care facility where she could stay for four hours on another day to give me some more ‘usable time out’.

These arrangements enabled me to have more precious time with my wife, together, at home. But, as her Alzheimer’s progressed, I knew that in the longer term being together at home was not going to be sustainable.

Having to clean the house, do the laundry, shopping, menu planning, cooking, clearing up, and watching your loved one is safe – and happy – is a full-time job!

And it comes at a price – probably your health!

Home life is easy and fun when there are two of you sharing and enjoying those activities. But more than just ‘tiring’ when you are the only one who is totally responsible for it all. You will burn-out, as I nearly did, if you don’t get help.

Maybe you should be receiving some subsidised home help? I would urge you to seriously consider seeking help. Start by discussing it with your local doctor. That will help you to assess whether you need to seek help and assistance with showering, cleaning and or meals. If you haven’t done any of that yet, get cracking!