The Moving Process for An Alzheimer’s Spouse

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I know I have not been posting as often as usual, but this moving thing is sucking up my life. And giving me new insights into my life with Ralph.

First there are the practical mechanics. And the financial mechanics. And the physical mechanics.

Then there are the emotional mechanics, which are not mechanics at all, but underlying realities.

So about the mechanics—whatever problems our marriage had, and there were plenty—I was spoiled for over forty years when it came to mechanics. Practically speaking, Ralph was the one who made decisions about what we needed as homeowners; he dealt with contractors and service people because he understood their language and knew how to do the jobs himself while I didn’t. In fact, physically, I was an inept moron. Ralph did not trust me to do much more than change a light bulb. I have to admit here that I didn’t try very hard to win his trust, preferring to let him take charge. Financially I was not inept, but although I did balance checkbooks and do much of the bookkeeping, Ralph did the heavy lifting when it came to making financial decisions like dealing with our accountant on long term planning, deciding what price to take on selling or buying real estate, choosing insurance plans.

Now all practical matters are in my hands. For better worse, Ralph trusts me completely to make decisions. He doesn’t do physical chores, although he is happy to carry boxes I’ve filled to the car, a fact I am extremely grateful for especially since he never complains the way he might have in the past. He has no interest in dealing with contractors or service people or even lawyers and accountants. He asks how things are going but doesn’t want to hear if there are problems. And I have talked here before about his lack of interest in financial issues.

None of this is new but the stakes are higher, the decision-making and activity more intense. I am making choices for his well being but also my own. I am elated at moments when I see how much I am accomplishing on my own and I am fearful and resentful at how much I am doing alone without someone to share doubts and fears with.

So to be honest, I am proud how competent I have proven in navigating the business end of things (although since the farm is only under contract at this point, I don’t want to jinx myself there). There was a whirlwind of the kind of negotiations and quick responses Ralph always relished; while he’d ask my opinions as a kind of devil’s advocate, he was the decider. Now I make the decisions and so far, they have been working well. I also seem to do fine working with contractors and service people. I admit my ignorance but I ask questions. So far no one has cheated me; if anything they’ve gone out of their way to be helpful. Not only am I proud of myself. Ralph is proud of me too.

Of course he has no clue that there have been snags and problems along the way. He doesn’t want to take on the devil’s advocate role he used to hand me. And I have learned I should not discuss my own doubts with him.  Whenever I do slip up and talk openly out of the need to think things through out loud, his anxiety sends him into the loop of repetitious thinking and questions that drive me crazy. Better to say all is going well, even when it maybe isn’t.

The result is that I don’t have a partner with whom to share my own anxieties while I am managing his anxieties too. I am pretty much on my own. But I know plenty of folks who are living alone and manage on their own just fine. It’s only a big deal for me now because I had different expectations. And frankly I am getting use to my new normal. While I often still feel scared or lonely, it is not all bad. I have grown in ways I might not have expected at this point in my life.

Also it’s a relief that I now live with someone who won’t mind if the wallpaper I splurged on for the powder room is more flowery and girlish than Ralph would ever have allowed. But then again, what if it’s hideous once it’s up and I have no one else to blame but myself.

16 thoughts on “The Moving Process for An Alzheimer’s Spouse

  1. I was delighted this morning to see your new posting. Ralph has become your silent partner. In some ways it will make it easier for you. Discussing issues is good when your partner is cooperative, supportive and has constructive ideas to offer. But discussions can too often become endless arguments when he is contentious. In this case every little detail can be a point of contention. I think with Ralph, in his condition, you are far better off with a silent partner. You are smart and resourceful. You have access to advisors who can get you over the hard parts. I know you will do well.

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  2. I woke up thinking about you today, wondering how things were going! Will you still be in your old house for Christmas or have you actually moved? I wish you a peaceful holiday and all the best it can be for 2020.

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    1. I will be doing our last farm christmas and am sure you will read all about it! Have a holiday fill with as much joy as you can squeeze in. So look forward to your comments, like hearing from an old friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello. Moving is so hard. We moved twice this year (a long story). And now I’m alone in our last place. Ned died last week. In the last year, things went like a out of control train. AD and strokes due to amyloid angiopathy both attacking him. It wasn’t a bad way to go, though. All of our family were here for Thanksgiving. Ned was at a place he never wanted to go. I lay in the bed (hospital bed, a little crowded for two of us and the dog) with him as he faded away. A much better death than it could have been. So one journey has ended, and another begun.

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    1. Oh Edith, I knew we had lost touch off line, but had no idea what you’ve been through. It is strange because as I have been getting the move together I’ve thought of you a lot and your description of moving during a support group we both attended years ago. Ned was just beginning to slide more dramatically the last time we talked so I can only imagine the struggle. Am glad to hear the end was at least better that worse. I will contact you….

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  4. Oh Alice, I so relate to everything you are saying! My husband died this past summer, but everything that you recount here, I so vividly remember. After years of a love and partnership that worked so well, I found myself alone in making all the decisions. Gone was the comfort of knowing we were in this together, able to lean into each other when life decisions needed to be made.

    Wishing you well on this next phase of life’s journey.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am sorry for loss. I hope you are ok. Can tell you are strong and probably made stronger by the last years of his life. I wish you all the best in the new year as you move forward with your life…..

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  5. You’ve touched on my own situation–having to make all of the major decisions and not being able to talk about things in detail with my husband. It IS very lonely at times–even though our husbands are there physically, it’s the mental/emotional part that’s missing. Hugs to you — hang in there, as I will try to do as well.

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    1. That loneliness is exactly as you describe it. Learning to be the sole decision maker late in life is hard and scary, but I am hoping the challenge keeps me–and you– alive and young in mind and spirit….Try to enjoy the holiday season with your husband and on your own!

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  6. Thank you for guiding me. My MCI husband has been diagnosed with dementia.Even though I suspected. The realization is devastating. So mow I have husband and mother vying for my attention.You have inspired me . Thank you again for sharing your journey.
    My prayers are with you.God bless all of us.🙏❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know exactly what you are up against. Was in your position for a time before my mother’s death. Two very different dependents. You will struggle but you will manage better than you ever thought possible. Best of wishes to you in the new year.

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