Love Them Where They Are Tuesday, Jan 3 2023 

Like sunshine

on an overcast day

rays of the man I knew

peek through the clouds

leaving me longing for more.

This poem sums up how we feel while living with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Like a tease, we are shown moments of lucidity that briefly allow us to think all is well. Periodically, our loved one knows us, remembers our many adventures and shared life. Such moments quickly vanish and become less frequent as the disease progresses.

I wrote this poem for the opening page of my book, Navigating Alzheimer’s. My husband, Marshall, showed symptoms of Alzheimer’s during the last 15 years of our marriage. The heartache of witnessing the decline of his health and memories of our lives together continuously diminishing, in addition to the demands of around-the-clock caregiving, took its toll on my own mental and physical health. However, I learned while caring for him that loving and accepting him where he was at each point in time in the illness was important. Since, as of this writing, there is no way to reverse the disease, symptoms are progressive. Although today may be sad and difficult, tomorrow will likely be worse.

Live in the moment, enjoy the moment, alongside your loved one, wherever that takes you.

***Learn more about managing symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, as well as my experience, in the books The Alzheimer’s Spouse and Navigating Alzheimer’s. And please, if you have read either of these books, write a short review on Amazon.

Blessing of Bright Stars Friday, Aug 21 2015 

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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

 

Radio Interview on Caregiving and Alzheimer’s Monday, Apr 13 2015 

Are you a family caregiver, especially for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, or know a friend who is? If so, you may want to check out my latest interview. The interview also features my newest book, Navigating Alzheimer’s. To do so, click Meet the Author on RadioMaria. There are two book interviews here. Mine begins at about 28.20 minutes.

The Caregiver’s Disease Wednesday, Mar 4 2015 

Cover Image Nav Alz

The journey we take when we partner with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is turbulent to say the least. Our husband, sister, or mother needs everything we can possibly give them. They don’t realize it, and may resent or shun our help, but they can do little without assistance.

The statistics aren’t pretty. More than 30% of the primary family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s die before the loved one they care for. In this position we are taxed at an extraordinary level. The disease zaps us emotionally, physically, and financially because of the 24/7, day-after-day, often for decades, all-consuming demands and the sheer agony of watching our relationship fade away.

I know this path well. My husband Marshall has had Alzheimer’s disease at least eleven years. He now resides in an assisted living home specializing in memory care, and although I no longer have the full-time responsibility of his every need, there continues to be much I must do for him. At this point, I feel blessed that our love for each other remains strong, but I know full-well that soon can be taken away from me too.

My latest book, Navigating Alzheimer’s. 12 Truths about Caring for Your Loved One, is jam-packed with solid information and observations I learned along the way. It covers issues raised by many people who have approached me seeking answers for their own caregiving needs. Topics include the early signs of Alzheimer’s; important behavior for caregivers; the perpetual mourning we experience;  expected costs of caregiving; dealing with insensitive remarks from outsiders; guidelines for selecting appropriate caregivers and assisted living homes; and the importance of appreciating the gifts we do have.

The book is available at ACTA Publications, 800-397-2282 and Amazon.

Navigating Alzheimer’s certainly isn’t a fun read but offers an important resource and compassionate camaraderie for families dealing with loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

Click here to listen to an interview about this book with Dean Richards on WGN Radio.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

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