A few weeks ago, I scoured my oven in response to my strong feelings about an article in the NY Times Science section by Jane Brody. Today her topic is the power of optimism, which is also a very difficult subject for caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other life-limiting, mind-stealing dementias. Jane Brody could be describing me as she describes herself as “someone who plans to get more done than time permits,” or who the Mayo Clinic describes as a person who believes that “good things will happen. .. and that negative events are temporary setbacks to be overcome.”
I don’t “give up and walk away from difficult situations.” I plan a course of action, get advice from others and stay focused on solutions.”
When faced with my husband’s, at first gradual, decline, which altered his personality as it decreased his short term memory, I did “seek a different approach and try harder.”
But there my optimism ended as it blinded me; I didn’t recognize my husband’s symptoms as an illness. I thought I needed to modify my approach to his demands. I sought out many approaches and I tried as hard as possible to find diagnoses that would indicate a possibility we were not facing dementia. We read books about keeping one’s brain healthy, took supplements to maintain memory, travelled from one medical specialist to another obtaining diagnoses and medications for Parkinson’s disease, (Maybe, the doctor said, we are dealing with Lewy-body dementia) sleep apnea, (Maybe, the doctor said, lack of oxygen is causing cognitive decline) to refine the original non-diagnosis of “some kind of dementia, probably Alzheimer’s type.”
My optimism surged once again when I decided to write a book about my experiences as a caregiver to assist others in recognizing this illness sooner, getting medication for our loved ones and most importantly getting support from other caregivers so we can survive this daunting journey. Now, Put That Knife Away-Alzheimer’s, Marriage and My Transformation from Wife to Caregiver is out there, but not enough people are aware of it. That’s why optimistic me is bringing the book to BookExpoAmerica hoping to give it wider readership so it can be of greater help to more caregivers and their families.