My mother had Alzheimer’s disease for 17 years before her body finally gave up the fight. I didn’t realize that I was being trained to be in a position to take care of my wife. My wife Linda’s career was as a broker and underwriter for commercial insurance for 40 years. We decided Linda should retire on January 31, 2008, because her short-term memory was getting weak and began affecting her job.
In 2013, our primary care physician referred Linda to a neurologist. Following numerous tests, our neurologist diagnosed Linda with Alzheimer’s disease in December 2013. We are blessed that Linda can still eat, dress herself and shower, with my instructions.
My relationship with Linda has changed in that I had to learn how to think for both of us. The hardest thing about being a caregiver is remembering that Linda cannot be any different than she is because her memory recall is now only two to three minutes. The most rewarding thing about being a caregiver is having my wife in our home and not in an Alzheimer’s unit.
When Linda gets agitated at me, I don’t argue with her, I just be quiet and let it pass. In two to three minutes she will not remember being agitated at me. You have to stay calm and smile, no matter what. “I love you” goes a long way to keeping her calm.
I know that the day will come when we will not be able to function as we do today. We still take trips and try to continue building as many memories as we can, even knowing that there will only be bits and pieces in Linda’s recall.
Linda’s passion is coloring, which we found out in 2015. She colors adult coloring books, using pencils. She does a terrific job. Linda has many friends who love her and interact with her, which gives me breaks to do other necessary things. Linda is my “shadow” and goes with me to work, store, doctor appointments, etc. I am blessed that my employer allows her to come with me.
We have participated in The Alzheimer’s Walks to end Alzheimer’s since 2015 and truly believe that in the not-too-distant future, a cure will be found.
What I have learned is patience and to have unconditional love.
Advice that I would give to other caregivers is to ask for others to pray for you and ask God to give you patience and unconditional love! The one with Alzheimer’s disease cannot change their behavior and be the way they once were, or as you might like them to be.
I will be happy to visit with anyone in a similar situation.
Submitted by Bill Southern – 12/28/2021.
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