My experiences from 9 years as an Alzheimer's caregiver

Posted by WaltRichard @waltrichard, Aug 11 8:56am

My wife, Nancy, had Alzheimer's for 9 years, and I was her primary caregiver. I wrote two essays about this experience, the first one dealing with our first 8 years, and the second dealing with the last year before her death (surrounded by her family at home and with the aid of Hospice). The essays can be found here:

Part 1: 9 Years an Alzheimer’s Caregiver: What Did I Learn? at
https://www.laprogressive.com/healthcare-issues/alzheimers-caregiver
Part 2: Lessons Learned as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver at
https://www.laprogressive.com/healthcare-issues/lessons-learned-as-an-alzheimers-caregiver
I'll be happy to answer any questions.

Walter Moss

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Caregivers: Dementia group.

@waltrichard Thank you very much for the links. What an opportunity to read about your experience! I do believe if my dad had been willing to put down in structured form, what he went through with my mother, it would be similar to your story. He was her caregiver singlehandedly through over a decade of dementia and Alzheimers, before her passing in 1996.
Ginger

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Thanks for posting these great essays, @waltrichard We caregivers can gain an incredible amount from this kind of sharing of our experiences.

It is always good to know others' experiences and take comfort in knowing we are not alone in our journeys.

Thanks again!

Strength, Courage, & Peace

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I like the 3 things important to remember as caregivers:
“Over the years I learned much, but primarily three things, two regarding positive approaches—the vital importance of love and embracing the heroic—and one about a negative path that should be shunned like the plague—self-pity.”
I like the way you loved your wife and figured out challenges to help her be happy and safe. I like the way you dealt with self-pity by being grateful for what you have and realizing how fortunate you are compared to others you know or heard about. You chose to ask instead of “why me” to “why not me?” You are a hero to me, and I thank you.

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Thank you, Walter. Your essay about the first eight years was comforting as it pointed to my experiences with Jane and the necessity to put LOVE in the forefront of every moment spent with her. The reminder regarding self pity was equally important in order to help me to be a better care giver and to remember that Jane needs me and I need to give her all of myself. There is no time or benefit from self pity.
Thank you, Walter. Looking forward to reading the essay on the last year with Nance.

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Thank you Walter for your essays. I’m not prone to self pity and usually look at life with gratitude. I do however, have a tendency for impatience or being defensive when he’s being irritable or blaming me for whatever. He’s had mixed dementia (vascular/Alzheimer’s) for 9 years. I am inspired by your emphasis on love in all circumstances.

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Thank all of you who have commented on my two essays about caregiving for my wife Nance. As Ginger, Scott, and other volunteers know, being of some help to others who are going through the dementia caregiving journey can be a great joy. I ended my second essay by noting that “this summer we (I, our children and grandchildren, some of Nancy’s co-workers and friends over her many years) will come together to remember her life, all its wonderful moments. On 9 July, we did that in our backyard, and we also also established a nursing scholarship in her name at Eastern Michigan U (EMU), where she worked as a nurse in the Student Health Center. In addition, on the 9th, most of our family posed on and behind the Memorial bench created for her on EMU’s campus. Finally, in the months since her death I have written an essay mainly about her “afterlife” and a poem in memory of her.
Here are the links to those:

Thoughts about Death and Faith: A Pragmatic Approach( 5/26/2022) at 
https://www.laprogressive.com/wellness/thoughts-about-death-and-faith.
“Ashes in the Atlantic” (8/6/2022) at
https://hollywoodprogressive.com/poetry/ashes-in-the-atlantic

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