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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Anniversaries February 15, 2014

This week marks the beginning of the fourth year that my husband resides in a facility for Alzheimer's disease sufferers.

Why sufferers? Is he suffering? or are we, the folks who love him and remember him as the bright, curious, active scientist, husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend  that he was.

Why did I use the past tense when he is still very much with us? I see him, I hug him, I scratch his back which he actually SAYS he likes, but this bent-over, weak, mumbling, cute fellow who walks around following the staff is so different from the sparkling blue-eyed fun-loving, often serious, but joking man that, when I visit, I enjoy knowing he is being well cared for and I am grateful that his looks and personality encourage good care from the staff, but I remember him in the past tense.

Three years ago this week,my husband was hospitalized in a small psychiatric hospital geared to treat elderly patients for a short while, mainly to validate or change a diagnosis and to medicate the person appropriately so he/she can live in a less restricted setting. I thought then, that he was coming home as when we were finally permitted to visit, his behavior was appropriate, his mood calm and he was happy to see me; I was not longer the enemy poisoning his food, wasting his money or needing to be accosted with a knife.

But these professionals know their clientele; once we found my husband a spot in an assisted living home, he asked my son to hold a staff member down so he could kick her in the a**! The outbursts and rage reactions were still present, but no longer directed at me. He was safe and so was I.

A year later, my husband's needs for assistance with skills of daily living exceeded the capacity of the assisted livning facility and we moved him across the street to a memory care unit where he has resided for the past two years. He is no longer angry or anxious; when asked if he is happy, he decides depending on his basic needs for food, warm clothing or cleanliness being met. 

Alzheimer's disease has stolen so much from this man and from his family and friends. Let's all work together to pressure the government, raise money to fund research to find a cure or a prevention for future generations and to support the caregivers who travel  on this unpredictable journey for such a long time.

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