Retirement .... Alzheimer's was not in the plan ....

by Linda
(West Palm Beach, Fl)

We have been married 26 wonderful years. Both retired from banking, Frank an executive, I worked in several departments as a Supervisor. Frank was my bosses boss!

We had a motorhome & travelled all over the US. We also took several vacations outside the US, Romania, England, Canada, Costa Rica, & the Bahamas. That was all before we retired, I'm glad now it worked out that way.

Three years ago Frank was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It has been a steady downhill spiral since. He was so powerful & strong at the bank, in charge of many employees & responsible for millions of dollars, now he can not sign his name. This is a very sad disease.

But, on the bright side .... We are together ... in our home .... He still knows who I am. I'm just as much in love with him now, as I was on our first date .... way back when he was my bosses boss! Some days are easier than others .... such is life. I didn't know "caregiver" was going to be in my job description .... Linda

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Thank you one and all ....
by: Linda

Thank you for your comments & ideas! Yes, I bought the book "36 Hour Day" right at the start. Our Neurologist suggested it. It has been very helpful in understanding why Frank does one thing or another and how, as a caregiver, I can deal with it best.

Frank was born & raised in Cuba, a little town called Ciameto near Havana. In the evenings, now during the sundowning period, he often asks "when will the bus be here?" "Will it pick me up right outside?" 50+ yrs ago, he would take the bus to Havana to go to college and then later work. Now, when he gets home from the Senior Center, he wants to know "when do we leave for Ciameto?". It's amazing how the past is so strong a memory, but not anything recent.

He was married in Cuba. They came to NY City in the 60's (after Castro took over) and then had a daughter. They were married 30 years before they divorced. Frank and I met 5 years later and now have been married 26 yrs. He often refers to different things he did with his first wife, thinking its me. Which is ok ..... a little odd, but under the circumstances, to be expected.

One of the biggest challenges for me, is finding something on TV I feel is ok for him to watch. So much violence and fighting and killing - even in the nature shows. I usually go to Bonanza or Green Acres, or Beverly Hillbillies, or the game shows! Remember those? Way before all the blood & gore on TV now.

Thanks again for your support. Have a wonderful day. If you would like to correspond, I'd be happy to hear from you.

Sincerely, Linda

How I have responded to my Father's Alzheimers
by: Pam Hieser

My Father has been gone for many years now. But he left before his body wore out. His Alzheimers took him so far away that the last couple of years he showed no recognition of anyone or anything. Yes, this is a very sad disease. I used to think, "Dad may be in there having the time of his life. Perhaps he is listening to God."

I believe Dad's Alzheimers has driven me to make all kinds of plans to keep my mind very active to try to keep things working as long as possible.

I wrote an article called "Serving God: Bringing His message to little children" which is part of the retirement work I've already started even though I will retire next June.

There are many articles that report that you can delay or slow down this type of dementia by exercising your brain. . .for example, learning new things.

Now, the caretakers of those with Alzheimers have a rough row to hoe. A great volunteer idea if you know such a caregiver is to offer to stay with their partner so they can either get some rest or get out a bit.

Prayers, and best wishes to all who serve those with Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.

Some things that helped me as a caregiver
by: Carol

Hi Linda,

Yes, we did not decide to be caregivers, this disease created that decision for us. John had Alzheimer's for 12 years. I don't mean to scare you but in my husband's case he went all the way back to the Korean War in his mind and that is where he stayed. For his last two years a facility was necessary 24/7 for his safety, my safety and everyone else's safety.

Many people do not get that severe.

I found writing a computer journal was very helpful. Just short notes, the date, what happened, etc. This was very helpful to print out for doctor visits. Also, I found websites that were helpful and talked about the stages of this disease. Journaling gave me a sense of control of my life; I could figure out which stage John was going through and what the next stage involved.

As John had served in the service I changed him to Veterans medical care. The cost of medicine was lower, the care was excellent as was the nursing home.

Do you have Medical and Financial Power of Attorney? I was advised to get this and it proved correct.

The book, The 36-Hour Day, became my "bible." It is in paperback and easy to read. Lots of good advice and common sense.

I you would like to email me I will be glad to write back. You can just rant and cry and scream in the email to me, that's fine. My daughter used to scream (closed car windows) as she drove to work.


Retirement.. Alzheimer's was not in the plan
by: Joy

Hi Linda. I just love your attitude. I am happy to know your wonderful husband still knows you and you see that as a blessing. You see the good in this tough situation you are in. I am glad also that you got to do some wonderful things before you retired. I will think of you and keep you and your husband in my prayers. Life on its own terms is tough sometimes. I find your courage and gratitude to be a wonderful message. Best to you! Joy

by: Sharyn~~~Waterloo

I understand when u say u love him just as much now as ever before! This is wonderful when 1 can be so in love for decades and love just keeps growing ! U & your husband r a very lucky couple ** how unfortunate for your husband to have to loose all the memories of the great times u have shared as a couple. My heart goes out to u and may your love continue in abundance***

Stick with it Linda
by: Anonymous

Linda, I know of a lady about 70 yrs old, that just remarried one year ago. This is her second marriage. Soon after she married she discovered that her husband was having serious memory problems, and now she has to leave him with someone if she goes anywhere. Really sad disease.

There is a cure, with injections, it will erase the memory loss in the frontal lope of the brain, but the FDA hasn't approved it yet. I saw a doctor 60 yrs old, who didn't even know who he was, after getting the injections, he was completely back to normal. He was so happy that they used him to experiment on, and to get his life back.

Hang in there Linda, you will need all the support you can get.

This thing called LIFE
by: Retired Traveller

Linda: When people say "take one day at a time," there is a good reason for that. Life throws many curves, and you never know when you are going to have to cope with an impossible situation. I think a lot of couples experience what is going on with you and your husband. It's called LIFE. I'm sure it is very difficult to watch your husband decline. You see your dreams of retirement fading, might help to join the Alzheimer's Association. I know you are counting your blessings too.

In my case, two failed knee surgeries curtailed a lot of our hopes for our retirement. I gave up a wonderful job, cannot drive. Now my husband cares for me. He does it with great love and devotion. When it comes to disease, sickness, realistically as we all get older, it will come to one of us, or maybe both of us.

I hope you have the love and support of family and friends. Don't lose yourself in the whole process. Ask for help when you need it. People do care and want to help.

I care about your situation and I certainly sense your disappointment and frustration. We all get through crisis and some cope better than others.

Keep the faith and keep loving him.


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