Thursday, September 13, 2012
Alzheimer’s Diary: As John’s advocate, Ginger vows to help him keep his independence
I thought I knew everything that was going in John’s life. But what I didn’t realize that he was becoming more and more dependent on me. I already did most of the driving but outside of that, I didn’t even notice.
Two weeks ago, John asked if I would pick up some money for him, like $100 for gas. I thought this was a weird request so I asked why he didn’t just go by the ATM or use the debit card. John looked down, embarrassed, and said, “I can’t remember how to do it.” I was shocked. How didn’t I notice? How long had this been going on? Come to find out, it had been going on for a month.
So like any control freak, I told John not to worry, I would go get his gas. With a heavy, worried heart, I headed to the gas station. Was this the next phase to John’s disease? Was I disabling John by “handling things”? Was I taking over just because it’s easier?
After a tearful, heart to heart talk with my best friend, she suggested I get him a Kroger prepaid gift card so all John had to do was swipe the card and go. It would help him maintain his independence. I thought it was a great idea. But wait a minute, would a gift card be any easier than re-learning how to use his debit card?
On the way to Lexington the following day, I stopped for gas. I turned to John and announced our first relearning “how to use the debit card” lesson. So began the first lesson.
Ginger and John Sanders
So every time we went out, whether or not we needed gas, we stopped for gas. John pumped and paid for the gas every time we stopped. We stopped at the ATM and John got money using the debit card. It is the little tasks that somehow get lost as we battle this disease.
Do I do the tasks (which of course is easier) or like we did with our children, teach them how to do the task?
It is easy to fall into the trap of overly “taking care” of your honey. Although I want to make life as easy as possible for My John, I neither want nor need another child. I need my soul mate.
Maintaining independence is essential for anyone. When Alzheimer’s victims begin to lose their independence, they are relinquishing an important part of their identity. As the caregiver, I have to stave off the need to do things for My John. I don’t want him to feel awkward but if he doesn’t do it, he will forget how. Time will come quick enough when he may not be able to do some tasks but until then, John will. The key, for me, is enabling and encouraging John to FIGHT for his independence.
Although Ginger is a vice president of sales for a renowned antimicrobial company (SAS Global Inc.), her main objective is to stymie the onslaught of Alzheimer’s on her husband, John. Ginger lives with her husband and three dogs on their farm in Lawrenceburg. A dedicated family person, she and her husband have 11 grandsons. Ginger Sanders is a transplant from South Carolina and a product of the University of South Carolina where she majored in the English Literature. She has taken on the fight of Alzheimer’s to win and help others as they struggle through the quagmire of this disease. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read all of Ginger’s diary entries