People often caution me to take care of myself, reminding me that the spouse is under the most stress and is most likely to become ill. Statistics say the spouse often gets Alzheimer’s too. I understand …. the loss of sleep, the stress, … the sadness ….
But I’m the lucky one, the one who has help; I have Jon who lives with us, along with his wife and 2 young children, so it’s possible for me to get out of the house. It’s even possible for me to go away on a vacation; in fact, Jon insists.
Last week I was in Paris, a gift so precious that I smile every time I think of my escape from reality, a week to satisfy my thirst for travel. Adriana (Jon’s wife) and I had a wonderful time crisscrossing the city on foot, by Metro, taxi and train, doing all of the wonderful big and little things that are Paris: museums, monuments, parks, cathedrals, chateaus, cafes, shopping, crepes and hot chocolate — even a fashion show at Galleries Lafayette.
When we returned, I told Jon that not only did the trip make me happy and relaxed, but I also came home feeling physically fit because of all of the walking we did. My knee, which usually bothers me, didn’t hurt, not even once. I slept well, ate well, and to be honest, I didn’t think much about home. I knew Jon was here taking great care of Bo so I could feel normal for a week.
Adriana started me monitoring the number of steps I take each day using an app on my phone, and I’ve taken the challenge. Now I’m taking Emma for extra long walks every day, with 10,000 steps my target. Some days I do better than others, but I’m rather close to my goal… therapeutic for a caregiver.
As I write all of this, I think of the many, many caregivers who have no respite, no way to feel relaxed or normal. They live in their own prisons and this is the tragedy of Alzheimer’s and dementia — both people are trapped in the disease.
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