It's all in the planning
It really is all in the planning and that planning was so worth the effort. If you remember, not so long ago I couldn't tell Ash that L was coming until ten minutes before she arrived. Any earlier and his anxiety would spin out of control meaning the day would begin badly and take a long time to recover. On Wednesday I took my courage in my hands and told him at 9.30 that Mum wasn't well, that I was leaving at 12 noon and had no idea what time I would be back. I told him there was nothing to worry about because L would be arriving before I left and that she knew exactly what to do about the fish and chips for tea because she'd done it before. You may not remember this but she really had done it before during the week when I'd organised two ten hour visits as a step towards just this moment.
Also as part of the planning, the week before I'd given L the information folder I'd put together for Jake so that she had a whole seven days in which to read and absorb the contents. This meant that when she arrived she had an air of confidence about her which instantly put Ash at ease. Sometimes, I've realised, much of dealing with dementia is smoke and mirrors. If everyone around Ash is confident then so is he as it doesn't occur to him that he has anything to worry about.
And off I went, saw my mum, picked the seven year old up from his other grandparents, took him home, had a meal with Jake and watched tv in the evening. All that might sound so run of the mill and ordinary that you will wonder what my excitement was about but at the end of the evening Jake and I realised it was the longest we'd spent together since we went on our Contented Dementia course three years ago. It was lovely and I realised how much I'd missed him (and the seven year old of course).
At 7.30pm L texted me to say that she'd just told Ash I wouldn't be home until 5pm the next day and he was perfectly happy with that so it looked as though we were home and dry. I spent a large chunk of the next day in Jake's garden reading then got home at 4pm to a very happy husband. Apparently he'd woken early in a panic but L calmed him down and we'll learn from that. Other than that he couldn't wait to join her in telling me what they'd done, where they'd been and who they'd seen and it was lovely to see Ash so happy and confident.
Best of all there's been no fall out from my night away; not that evening, not during the night or at any time since I got back and I'm coming to realise that, although I felt the carer situation was to give me time to myself, it's actually been of the most benefit to Ash himself. He's happier, more confident, chattier and more relaxed than he's been for years and it's made such a difference to our life together.
I would say then that if you're considering getting carers in but are feeling guilty about it don't. Everyone will tell you that you should do it just to give you time to relax but, if you do it as part of a bigger plan, then it can be so much more than that. In fact I would go so far as to say it could transform this whole dementia experience for both of you.
There is of course more to this than one overnight stay so watch this space for the next step in the plan. I have high hopes.