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Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is both heartwarming and heart wrenching. It is an intense and intimate form of care, especially for spouses caring 24/7 for the main person in their lives. They become one as the caregiver must think and feel for their spouse all day, all night. We are their external hard drive as they no longer can tell if they are hungry, tired, anxious, or uncomfortable. Remaining calm, compassionate, and steady is essential.

My husband, Marshall, has Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms have been noticeable for at least 11 years; however, Alzheimer’s can be progressing in the brain for 10 to 20 years before any signs. I cared for Marshall at home for the first 10 years. He now resides in an assisted living home for memory care where I talk to him and/or visit him daily.

Marshall was a larger-than-life personality who continues to light up the room. But our conversations are basic at this point—mostly about how much we love each other.  The stars shine brightest in the darkest of night, and each time he says, “I love you” and “You are the love of my life” is a bright star indeed that I hold close to my heart.

WGN-TV is airing a special on Alzheimer’s at 7pm Central Time on Saturday, August 29. The program, Unforgettable: Living with Alzheimer’s, also will stream live online on wgntv.com and be replayed on Sunday, August 30th at 2pm Central Time on CLTV. I was interviewed for this special along with doctors, patients, and Glen Campbell and his wife, Kim.

You also can listen to an interview I had with Dean Richards on WGN radio on this subject.

  • Read more about caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s in my new book, Navigating Alzheimer’s. 12 Truths About Caring for Your Loved One, available from ACTA Publications or Amazon.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

 

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