In our May 2012 print issue, we shared more about Frank and Barbara. Read on for the remainder of the story.
Right now the letters are bringing me back to the start of what would be our life together. We were not thinking of sickness and old age. We were planning a life together and when we married we vowed to each other to be there in “sickness and in health”, “till death do us part”. We are doing that together and I do not begrudge our present status in life. Yes, life as most people know it today isn’t being a caregiver for their spouse, it’s thinking about their next vacation or trip, planning to build a new house, going to the theater, or the like. However, the caregivers of the more than 5.5 million Alzheimer’s loved ones have only one thought in mind, and that’s the care that is given to their loved one, be they in a nursing home, hospital, or at home like Barbara is now. The caregiver must also be a strong advocate for their loved one, ensuring that they are cared for with dignity, regardless of where they are being cared for. We do not know what the future will bring us, but we do know there will be a very emotional end to this disease. No one can prepare for what’s to come, but with proper planning that pain and suffering can be eased somewhat. Our family has all the planning done, and when it does come to fruition we’ll accept it as it is because we cannot change the ultimate ending of this disease.
It is my hope that the story of Barbara and me will in some way be helpful to those who now suffer with this disease as a caregiver, to know that you are not alone. You are in a select group of people that have to be strong and willing to accept what they have been given and not try to fight it, because you can’t win. It’ll put a lot of stress on you and then what good will you be if you can’t provide for your loved one. So as we tell the new folks in our Support Group, you’ve got to get out of the denial stage and look at this disease as a realist. I know you’ll feel better if you do. I too had denial when I first started as a caregiver. You too can overcome that feeling.
I’d like to express our gratitude to the staff at the Pompano Today Magazine for the opportunity to submit these three articles for their readership and to thank all of the readers who have made comments to the articles. My hope is that the articles will give hope and consolation to those who may be in despair.