“Where Are We Going?”

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Air Bellows Gap July 2017

If you travel with someone who has been diagnosed with dementia for any length of time, you will occasionally be asked, “Where are we going?” Jim asks me that question anytime we get in the car and ride for more than 30 minutes – especially if we are on the interstate. There is a level of stress in his voice and he is obviously concerned that he has no control over what is happening to him at that moment. I am always anticipating the question and ready with an answer that typically goes something like this: “We are going to visit cousin George, who asked us to please come for a day as he needs our help. We will go back home tomorrow. Is that OK?” This kind of answer calms Jim down and he says, “OK.

Jim & Vicki Visit Family June 2017

My answer to this question is always similar and “justifies” our trip with reasons like, “We need to go to a special family event – they want us to be there,” or “Soand-so has this problem and I need to help them and I really want you with me,” or We have to go make a repair at our condo. The common thread to all the answers is that I end it by telling Jim when we will be going home and ask him if he is OK with it all. I usually tell Jim we will go home within a day or two, even if that is not the case. For Jim longer than a day or two is just too far off, so I try to keep the answer in terms he feels comfortable with. Depending on how long the trip is, Jim will ask the question several more times. The answer is always the same and Jim is always comforted when he knows we will be going back home again soon.

Jim was diagnosed with dementia 15 years ago, so he is long down the road with this disease. He is probably beyond the point at which most dementia patients have already stopped traveling. In fact, his doctors cannot believe we still travel anywhere, but by God’s grace, we are still going. This year alone we have taken trips to Chapel Hill, Atlanta, the North Carolina mountains, two trips to Charleston and three trips to Virginia. Beach – about one trip a month. Once we’ve arrived at our destination, it usually takes Jim about three hours to relax and feel comfortable. But once we have been there for a day, he is usually fine and has forgotten we are not at home. This has been a pretty reliable pattern for a few years now.

continuing to be together and do things together is the real motivation

As long as I limit our travel time (a six-hour drive is about the maximum for us) and I am prepared with the answer to that inevitable question during that time, Jim can get past the “wherearewegoing” anxiety and we can both have a trip we enjoy. In fact, the important part of the answer to that question is that wherever we are going, we are going together. And continuing to be together and do things together is the real motivation behind the very special care Jim has received the last four years.

25 Responses

  1. Clark Neilson

    You touch me with your kindness and love, Vicki. Are you still working at Duncan Parnell too?

    Best regards, Clark

    • Vicki Hafele

      Good to hear from you Clark. I really appreciate your comments. I am still working at Duncan-Parnell part time. Please ask for me if you come in.

  2. David Holmes

    I second Clark’s comments, you are a very strong, loving, and Godly woman. Jim is a very lucky man to have you in his life. God Bless you both.

    • Vicki Hafele

      Thank you David! I am blessed to have Jim too. Hope to see you in Charlotte soon.

  3. Charles mack

    Your comittment and your dedication to carry out your promises has been a solid witness to the glory of our lord , a great encouragement for me, I see your ministering to your dear husband and your praise in the worship of obedient to our savior, I this as being a blessing to God almighty , thank you for being an Angel of our lord . Hug him for me and give yourself one for me to please, I love you all.

    • Vicki Hafele

      Pastor Mack – How totally wonderful to hear from you. Thank you so much for reaching out and for the hugs.

  4. Jim Augustin

    Thanks for your thoughtfulness sharing your experience to help others understand.

    • Vicki Hafele

      Thanks Jim! It has been a real blessing for me to share my experiences. I never expected to be so touched by this blog.

  5. Kenneth Sr. Samuelson

    Thank you Vicki. I wish I had my Mickey to take care of as you are doing so well with Jim. Ken Samuelson

    • Vicki Hafele

      Thanks so much Ken. I know you must really miss Mickey so much. I wish I had met her.

  6. Chip Cash

    Vicki… thanks so much for this. You inspire me.

    • Vicki Hafele

      You are too kind Chip. Just so you know, you are the all time best inspirer!

  7. Elaine Ginsberg

    What a wonderful job you do with him Vicki!

    • Vicki Hafele

      Thanks Elaine. By the way, I so miss Ann. And my garden has never looked the same. Take care……

  8. Steve Rogers

    God has given each of us special talents. Yours is patience and caring for others–Jim. God bless you as you continue to be “on the road with Jim”.

  9. Carolyn O'Brien

    Thank you, Vicki, for these updates. Bob and I send our love. God bless you and Jim.

  10. Zeta Pittman

    Thanks for sharing all of your stories.

  11. Travel well, Jim. Safe home!

  12. Mike Ostergren

    Thanks for Sharing! I’m happy you both can travel and still have time to enjoy life!

  13. Claudette Holt

    What a God giving love. Jesus walks with you everyday Vic. Holy Spirit guiding you. May you be lifted up always in finding new wisdom and compassion for the man you love.i have learned so much from you and Jim. Claudette

  14. Debora Hutchins

    Thank you so much for sharing this. What wonderful solutions you have found!

  15. Vilma Prado

    Vicki every month this letter just shows God faithfulness in your life given the strength,love for Jim you are special blessings 🙏🙏🙏

  16. Cosin Jim

    15 years ….wow! What a great gift to be able to enjoy all the traveling to all the loved ones that can bring you and Jim comfort. You continue to be the ROCK that Rolls 🙂 literately
    Thinking about you both and thanks again for sharing….jim & lisa

  17. Jody Ballard

    I really appreciate these blogs. You are such a blessing to Jim. Your love and patience is so wonderful. You never give up.

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