What Happens To The Spouse Of The Alzheimer’s Patient?

What happens to the spouse of an Alzheimer’s patient as they see the person they married slowly taken away from them? I remember first hearing about Barry Petersen and his wife *Jan, and now Dan Gasby and his wife B. Smith.

I’ve even written about the effects that it can have on the spouse, the toll it takes on them both mentally and physically in our April 28, 2018 post Alzheimer’s Caregivers “Til Death Do Us Part”.

These two spouses clearly have made difficult decisions. Are they wrong or right? Is this something that we talk about with our spouses before hand?

What are your thoughts? What are the spouses to do? Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and sometimes life is hard. We really can’t say what we would do in a difficult situation until we are faced with it.

*Jan Petersen passed away in 2013 after being cared for by her husband.

If It Works For You

Most people have read or heard all of the information on what makes a successful marriage. How to keep a husband/wife happy, the 5 or 10 or 15 steps to a happy marriage. How to fight fair. Men are from wherever and women are from some other place.

On August 4 I celebrated my 40th wedding anniversary. People asked if it felt like 40 years, did the time just fly by and other such nonsense. They also wanted to know how we made it work, was the relationship 50/50, how did having children change the dynamics of the marriage, who was the one with the last word?

There is no magic in having a successful, most of the time happy marriage. I love those people who say that every day it was almost perfect because they married their perfect mate. I personally don’t know who they married because I don’t know two perfect people.

First of all we were parented by different people. That plays a big part in the marriage. Whether we want to admit it or not, we learned from our parents–good or bad, and our parents learned from their parents and so on.

So I thought I would give you some of the myth busters that I have encountered.

  1. Never go to bed mad. Stop it! You still have to go to work because there are bills that must be paid. So go to sleep, sleep on the problem, and for the most part it may solve itself with a nights sleep. In all honesty sometimes when you sleep on something you see the other persons position.
  2. Hide some of “your” money, you never know when you might need it, and make sure you don’t let the spouse know. They know. Put it in an account with your name on it and move on.
  3. Always put your money in a joint account. You can if you want to. You know what has to be paid, and when it should be paid. Some people are not good with money. I have found that a lot of couples have separate accounts and everything works out for them.
  4. Marriage is 50/50–of what? I will leave this one alone.
  5. Marry your best friend. If I married my best friend then who am I going to have to vent my frustrations about him with? My best friend has known me since second grade.
  6. Happy couples never disagree. Who wants to be with someone who thinks exactly like they do?
  7. You should share the same interest and do everything together. We don’t even like the same movies. I’m a happy movie fan, and he’s a kill 15 people in the first five minutes fan. We compromise, well at least I compromise and go with him. He suggest that I go with my best friend to see my type of movies.
  8. You complete each other. If it takes another person to complete you, then you will never be complete. You are your own person. That’s what drew them to you in the first place.
  9. Never sleep in separate beds/bedrooms. My paternal grandparents never slept in the same room, and they were married over 60 years–they seemed very happy. They could see each other from their rooms.  I know some people who sleep in separate rooms because one snores and keeps the other one up. One suggestion is to purchase an adjustable bed–it helps if snoring is a concern.

What makes a successful marriage? I wish I knew. I can tell you that it is always a work in progress. The one thing that is a constant with us is that no matter what, prayers are said before we close our eyes and when we open them in the morning. We truly believe that prayer helps everything. He will never be a cat person, and dogs are growing on me.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. If it works for you…….

Alzheimer’s Caregivers–“Til Death Do Us Part”

It attacks the brain and is the most common type of dementia–this is Alzheimer’s. There is no age requirement when it comes to the early onset of Alzheimer’s. We tend to think of our parents and grandparents when we think of Alzheimer’s, but the youngest person diagnosed with it was only 27.

The stories below are some of the examples of what it means when one states in their wedding vow: “til death do us part”. Each one of these has taken a different approach.

Mike and Carol’s journey was one that Mike was determined to make with her at home. Over the course of 10 years, and his health failing both mentally and physically he had to make a decision. A decision that was the best for both of them. Mike made the decision that even with 24 hour a day caregivers Carol needed more. He made the decision to put her into a facility.

As some caregivers think back over time, they realize there may have been signs they may have missed. As Barry Petersen talks about his wife, he tells how she changed years earlier before she was diagnosed.

All of the caregivers vowed to always take care of their spouse. They came to the realization that taking care of them meant they must face the difficult decision to put their love one into a care facility, not only for their care but the care of themselves.

Take a look at Barry and Jan and their journey with Alzheimer’s. Jan has since passed away.

Dan and B were the “it” couple that I watched on her weekly lifestyle show. From their beautifully decorated home in Sag Harbor to her wonderful restaurant that I visited in Washington, DC. They seemed to be living the dream until….. As of the writing of this article, B. Smith still remains at her home in Sag Harbor with Dan.

One important take away from all three of these cases is that couples should talk about their wishes if they become afflicted by this disease. The caregiver should have instructions that will make his/her decision on care much easier, and with less guilt.

As we mature, we do seem to forget more which does not mean that we have Alzheimer’s. The chart below is a simple way to explains the difference.

alzheimer anddementia

Alzheimer’s came to my family with my paternal grandmother. It was something that seemed to strike out of nowhere, and life-altering decisions had to be made immediately. My grandfather had died years earlier, but I know that he would have been like the spouses above, he would take care of his wife as she had always taken care of him. Even though in the later years of his life he was in failing health, he would be determined–“til death do us part”. Some conversations are hard to have, but a necessity as life continues.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. Taking care of someone does not mean doing it all alone there are resources.

Try these sites and others for information on being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s Support Programs and Information

National Institute on Aging

AARP Help and Support for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Marriage–You Pray For Me–I Pray For You

It’s been a bumpy, happy, funny and whatever else kind of road there can be including the long and winding road of a marriage.  There are no magic potions to a happy marriage–basically no two are alike. When people are asked what makes a marriage work there are many different answers. Some people say they married their best friend. They say he’s the Ying to their Yang.  They say they are the pieces to their jigsaw puzzle.  They say they never go to bed angry.  They say a lot of things.  After 36 years I can say we have gone to bed angry.  We had to go to work the next day!  I will tell you though the one thing that we have done each night and each morning for the life of the marriage–we pray for each other.  He prays for me, and I pray for him.  I’ve even prayed on the anniversaries that he has forgotten.  We know that prayer works.

On this anniversary we are still praying because we remember “thisis(our)yourbestyear”.

Black People Do Get/Stay Married

Today, August 4 is our wedding anniversary.  It has been 35 years of fun, tears, laughter, children and now grandchildren kept together by love and faith in God.  My husband and I both come from two parent homes in fact we both had two married sets of grandparents.  I can even remember my married great grandparents on my mother’s side of the family.  Don’t believe the hype–just because it’s in the news does not make it the truth.

 

anniversary

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–35 years and counting.

Proud Teacher

Proud Teacher

As a woman of a certain age and always the educator, I am always so proud of my former students when they do things in life that make them happy. I was so excited to be invited to the book signing of Mrs. Sharon Williams soon to be best-selling book “We Interrupt This Marriage”. Sharon shares with us her journey from being a coach’s wife to becoming a pastor’s wife. It’s special occasions like this that make you remember, “thisisyourbestyear”.

Who Can Be Sick?

When the girls were small, and I stayed home from work because of illness they somehow were ill too. The girls are on their own now with busy lives. Last Friday I was ill and was prescribed meds. Well guess who else decided they would be ill–hubby. No, he does not have my illness, he is just ill. I got up and made the sick man breakfast–appetite is still good. I then checked my work email. I am going to work. It is too much work to be sick. Love that man.

Remember, thisisyourbestyear. 

Hope Springs and it Does

Hope Springs Review

I have not seen the movie Hope Springs, but I fully intend to go and see it.  I love the fact that it about people who are of a certain age and at a certain stage of life. One of my favorite programs CBS Sunday Morning, and one of my favorite people David Edelstein did a wonderful review which made me want to see if even more.  I do take what David Edelstein says to heart.  He has given me some very good reviews on musical artist that I truly love–Leela James, Eva Cassidy, Melody Gardot just to name a few.

Take a look. The movie stars Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep.

Hope Springs Review

If you are a woman of a certain age, want to understand a  woman on a certain age or know a woman of a certain age, take a look at the review given by David Edelstein.  The part about the anniversary gift made me smile.  My hubby and I just got back from Scottsdale, Arizona where I celebrated our anniversary, and he went on vacation–he forgot–again.  I wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride, and you guessed it–he told me he would be on the ground when I got back–can we say chicken?

I have forgiven him for forgetting, for staying on the ground and I’ve gone on my balloon ride because “thisisyour(my)bestyear”.   

If you see the movie, let us know what you think.