As Jim and I planned our retirement, we thought about the many things the luxury of time would allow us to enjoy. But we never planned on dementia, and when it entered our lives, it dramatically changed our plans.
Jim retired at age 57. At the time that seemed like an early age to me. But Jim had grown weary of the stresses of his job and immediately immersed himself in volunteer projects at church. I was still working and we had a wonderful life. I would come home at the end of the day and Jim had bought all the needed groceries and handled all the chores. We had time to spend together, visit friends, or do whatever our hearts desired. Our marriage was a happy one and we were totally content.
I couldn’t believe Jim did not remember the conversation, but forgot about it and went on.
Jim and I have never argued much. But one day as I left to have lunch with a friend, Jim grew very agitated because he said I had not told him of this plan. Actually we had talked about it a week earlier at length since this was an old friend I rarely got to see. I couldn’t believe Jim did not remember the conversation, but forgot about it and went on.
The next week the same scene began to unfold. I realized then Jim might have a memory problem as this was too unusual. I had read that early intervention slows down the progress of memory loss and called our doctor. The doctor tested Jim and said he found nothing wrong. But the same pattern of forgetfulness kept repeating itself, so I called the doctor back. Jim was then tested by a specialist who confirmed Jim indeed had the beginnings of memory problems. So he stared taking Aricept. This began our life on the road with dementia.
Even with these changes we enjoy life and have a strong relationship.
For years it was hardly noticeable. But Jim is now in his 13th year since diagnosis and life has radically changed. Even with these changes we enjoy life and have a strong relationship. In this blog I hope to do 3 things: 1) talk about some medical treatments and interventions that have allowed Jim to survive 13 years, 2) discuss the kind of advocacy that has helped us negotiate some of the issues faced, and 3) capture the hope and moments of joy the Lord has given us.
I hope to see you on the road with Jim.