When was the last time that anyone asked you, “Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?” If you’re over the age of 40, perhaps even 35, the question probably hasn’t come up in conversation, and especially not if you are a caregiver. It seems to be a question for the young; but at what age do we stop having a future? When do we stop envisioning what the future could bring? I’ll tell you when; “Never.” If you woke up this morning, and presumably you did, then you have a future. The question is, “What will you do with it?”

Caregivers can easily get stuck in no-man’s land.

Tripping through life, caring for those we love, it seems rather selfish to think about the future, at least as it pertains to personal dreams. This is unfortunate, but understandable. It’s painful to dream about an exciting future we could have, when we know that there’s only one way out of Alzheimer’s disease. That person within our care will eventually succumb to Alzheimer’s. Dare I say it, to dream of a future beyond caregiving makes us feel guilty. We avoid looking forward to the future because we know what that means. Freedom begins when our loved ones are no longer here, and that just plain hurts. But, here’s the thing; that sad fact isn’t changed just because we avoid thinking beyond it.

Caregiving Season

For most of us, caregiving is a season. In this caregiving season, while there is time, do everything within your power to love, and serve that parent or spouse for whom you provide care, but dream, too. It’s okay. Think about your future and don’t feel guilty about it. Dream about ten years from now, and beyond. Contemplate that trip, cruise, new house, whatever. Daydream about your future. Without being fatalistic, ask, “Where do I see myself in 10 years?” What’s the worse thing that could happen? You may have to adjust the plan as years accumulate, but Lord willing, there’s time to strike a few entries from your bucket list.

If you’re living as if this is all there is, all there ever will be, then stop it. You’re quite right, that tomorrow isn’t promised to us, but chances are the sun will come up tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. What will you do with your life post Alzheimer’s disease?

Think about your future without shuddering.


Image: Flickr: Natalia Daporta