Caregiving is hard work, but places like Oxnard Family Circle make the job of caregiving a bit more manageable. My husband has been diagnosed with late onset Alzheimer’s disease. He remains quite independent, but needs to be monitored. He forgets things, gets confused, gets frustrated and sometimes says inappropriate things. Just as my husband’s world is shrinking and changing, so is my world. Friends and family are not as available as they once were. Going out to dinner, and a movie are distant memories and carrying on a conversation is practically non-existent. Life has changed not only for my husband but also for me, his caregiver. My days are filled with filling out forms, making doctor’s appointments, chauffeuring to those appointments, ordering medication, administering medications, reading about Alzheimer’s, attending support groups, making sure the house, meals, laundry, etc. are all done as efficiently as possible to support my husband’s needs.
The realization is that my identity is lost in my husband’s illness and needs. How can I turn this around? What do I need to do to reclaim a portion of my identity? Walking my dog Sunshine helps me put at bay the mental stress of caregiving and allows me to re- connect with the outside world. When Sunshine and I go on walks, we are able to stop and talk with neighbors. She sees and greets her canine friends and conversations with their humans always leads to talks about dogs, the weather, plants, vacations, and a myriad of other topics. For the 15-20 minutes that we are out, I am able to put aside the responsibilities of caregiving and just enjoy the interaction with others. In those few minutes there is no Alzheimer’s, but plenty of smiles and small talk. Yes, caregiving is hard work, and places like Oxnard Family Circle gives me, the caregiver, time to re-connect with my identity. “Sunshine” walks are daily rituals to keep me connected to a world outside of Alzheimer’s disease.