When our children were babies and they were crying inconsolably, we would sometimes put them in their crib and walk away, so we could keep our wits about us. When our kids were teenagers, we had to walk away to prevent us from whopping them upside the head when they pushed our buttons. Our loved ones with Alzheimer’s are no different. Sometimes you just have to walk away for your own sanity. And it’s okay to walk away.
When the family’s phone calls bombard you because “dad doesn’t sound right,” or when dad is taking apart his electric razors repeatedly and leaving all the little pieces everywhere, after you spend a lot of time putting them back together, it’s time to walk away for a little while. When the telephone becomes the remote and the alarm clock is the phone, it’s okay to go somewhere and attempt to clear your head. When he answers the closet instead of the knock at the door, find a way to deal with it.
When he roams around and you are at the end of your rope running after him, or it takes 30 minutes to explain why he can’t wear blue jeans and a leather belt to bed, or when he asks, “Where are you?” and you are standing right beside him, it’s OKAY to walk away.
It’s necessary and allowed. Don’t feel guilty. Guilt stinks, and it wins every time. Instead, go out in your garden, or on your patio with a cold glass of iced tea. Cry a little. Cry a lot. Take a walk or call a friend. Pray for your family, for your afflicted one, and for yourself. God already knows what’s going on so let it all hang out.
Don’t wrestle with your mind or think too much. Just treat yourself to some silence and find a slice of peace. A little time – even a few minutes – can make a huge difference during the course of a long day or week. Make yourself a promise to do something for yourself, even if it means walking away.
© 2012 Julie Hall