Sally and Winter
Almost forty years ago Sally and Winter were set up on a blind date at a wedding in Napa, California. “One dance is all it took” Sally beamed. They were wed about six months later. She found him to be an “incredibly romantic, lovely, wonderful person with unbelievable integrity and a 100 watt smile; he was a dream.”
In 2005, less than two years after Winter retired, their dream ended. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; he was fifty-eight. Caring for Winter became a twenty-four hour a day job. Sally’s health was deteriorating. How could anyone provide high quality care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s (and themselves) when they are physically and emotionally exhausted all the time?
Sally didn’t realize how exhausted she was until her new 2012 car told her so. The drowsy driver alert system in her car insisted she was too tired to be on the road safely. This was her tipping point, along with the consequent urging of a close friend to take action. Sally felt that if she didn’t make a change she would get seriously hurt, sick, or worse.
Sally then made the difficult decision to place Winter in a dementia facility. I think placement was the most loving course of action Sally could take for Winter, and for herself.
I asked Sally what advice she has for other people in the same situation. She urges people to take care of themselves by seeking the help of an Alzheimer’s support group. Sally said, “I have become close friends with the people in my group, we care for each other and I’m healthier for it. It’s been an extremely important thing to do for myself. I don’t feel alone in this.”