Alzheimers can last from 2 to 20 years from the date of diagnosis. There is no way to know when the journey will end – it can feel like a marathon where someone keeps moving the finish line further and further away. Thankfully, my husband is no longer aware of how many miles he’s traveled or of the passage of time. I however, have experienced the fatigue and exhaustion that comes with running a seemingly endless contest of endurance as his caregiver.
…and let us run with endurance
the race that is set before us…
I run and run and run, and believe me, I am tired, but Glen needs me and so do my children, grandchildren and friends! I know that if I am going to be a good caregiver, I have to take care of myself while I care for them; so I pace myself and take the time to clear my head and catch my breath. I pray, exercise, eat right, nurture friendships, read, take naps, play with my dog – whatever refreshes me. I fight negativity with love and fight depression with humor and faith, but most of all I count my many blessings.
I am not alone.
I am one of 15 million caregivers in the United States, all traveling the same course and dealing with the same obstacles and challenges while friends and familiy stand and cheer from the sidelines. Although the moral support of others is greatly needed and appreicated, only a fellow caregiver can truly understand the hardships and sacrifices of the journey. Regularly connecting with other caregivers gives me the essential ‘power boost’ that I need to get through each new mile.
I realize now that it’s not a marathon – it’s a relay race.
Although I run as hard as I can to be the best I can be for myself and for my loved ones, there are times when I need to rest. I am thankful that God has blessed me with a great family, wonderful friends and caring health professionals who I can pass the baton to when needed.
In the early stage of our race, a friend who I refer to as ‘the golf angel’ took Glen golfing almost every day, giving me a few hours to run errands and do what I needed to do. In the middle stage, when round-the-clock in-home care became neccessary, our children, grandchildren, nephew and friends all took turns in teams of two to cover for me. Now in the late stage, our family joined a memory community that provides a village of care, not only for Glen’s needs, but for my needs as well.
Instead of focusing on the ever-elusive finish line, I put my faith in God’s divine timing and perfect purposes. Someday when this journey will end, I’ll be able to proudly say:
I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.
2 Tim 2:7