I had to fill out a form a few weeks ago in order to collect the death benefit offered by my late husband’s former employer. There was a space on the form for listing my marital status. These are the choices the form gave me: married, single, or living in sin. Whoops, I‘m mistaken about that last choice. It actually said domestic partnership. Only someone as old as I am would’ve made a mistake like that. “Living in sin” became obsolete some time during the 70s, I think, and was replaced by the far superior domestic partnership label.
I didn’t like my choices. Where was the choice marked “widowed?” After all, this form was an application for a death benefit. You might think the creators of the form would’ve considered that at least some of the applicants had recently been widowed. I pondered how to answer the question of my marital status for some time. I still feel married: it’s only been six weeks since my 50+-year marriage ended with my husband’s death. And yes, I do understand the part about “till death do us part.” We have parted and one of these days I might stop feeling married. But that day hasn’t come yet. Continue reading
I got depressed today! It happens. Although this blog is about how to make the final 15% of your life fulfilling, and most of the time I do feel happy and fulfilled, there are times when depression overwhelms me. Not clinical depression: not the kind of depression that comes over a person for no reason in spite of the fact that life seems to be going well. I’m talking about the kind of depression that happens when life is tough. My life has felt tough recently. Correction: I should say that my husband’s life has been tough lately. It’s watching him deal with the tough parts that has made my life tough. Whoops! That’s not totally true either. Some days it’s hard to be completely honest. My life has been tough lately too.
Dementia steals so many things from the person who is experiencing it (and their loved ones). Over the last few years, my husband has had to sell his beloved Harley and his Madass Motorscooter, and then he had to give up driving completely. He’s had to give up the freedom to go anywhere he wants on his own; to be home alone if he chooses; or to go out in the garage and work on his projects. In short, he has lost the freedom to feel like an independent adult. But as everyone who is a caregiver knows, watching a loved one suffer such terrible losses has a profound effect on the observer too.
I expect that the posts on this blog will contain everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. This particular post, however, is likely to have far more of the ridiculous in it then the sublime. I said in my first post on this site that I hoped to both inform and learn as a result of writing each post and receive useful comments from any readers I was fortunate enough to have. While I do think there will be some useful information for readers in this post, I am counting on receiving some help myself on the subject of bathing and bathtubs. Why? Because my husband has developed a terror of bathing, a common symptom of Dementia.
I’ve included some pictures with this post. As you may be able to tell from the picture below, one of the difficulties of bathing when you suffer from dementia is that you might forget that you have already put soap on your hair, and then consequently do it again and again. And when you are using a walk-in tub with those wonderful water and air jets, this can result in a lot of bubbles. Usually, when my husband, Bill, is bathing, I stay right there with him just to prevent catastrophes like the one in the picture. The day of the picture, I decided answering the phone in the middle of Bill’s bath was a good idea. It wasn’t! By the time I returned, cell phone in hand, to check on how he was doing, bubbles were pouring out all over the floor. On the good side, since I had the cell phone camera right there, I was able to capture the moment for posterity. By the way, Bill drove a hard bargain before he signed a release agreeing to let me use the picture in this post.
Keep that shampoo away from forgetful bathers
In my very first post on this site, I mentioned that a sense of humor was extremely important when dealing with the challenges of the final fifteen percent of your life. It’s actually very helpful throughout the entire lifetime, but it’s critical in the final part. My first reaction to the bubbles rapidly filling up the floor of the bathroom was dismay at the amount of work cleaning the mess was going to take. But my upset turned to laughter the moment I caught sight of the expression on my sweetie’s face. Continue reading