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Mo GrossbergerMo Grossberger

Part 1

“Your wife has been diagnosed with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.” Those few words changed our lives forever, but allow me to digress.

My name is Mo Grossberger. I had been my wife, Jeanne’s, caregiver for eight years. Although I have been a geriatric social worker since the mid 70’s, very little of my training prepared me for the years to come.

These next few weeks, rather than give you a blow by blow, I want to share the many lessons I learned from this experience that reshaped my life forever.

I guess the story began in Ohio in 2000 when she and I were working for a mental health agency. I was running a group home, and Jeanne, an R.N., was managing support groups for people with schizophrenia.

One day the Human Resource Director came into her office and told her that Jeanne’s staff had been complaining that she was being repetitive and forgetful. As a result the agency had scheduled her for a full, three-day, psychiatric work-up, scheduled to begin the following week. “Be tested or be fired” were the parting words.

Both Jeanne and I were very upset about how this was handled. At the time, I knew nothing about Alzheimer’s. I had noticed she was a little redundant and forgetful, but I attributed that to the normal aging process. Many of my clients displayed similar behavior.

She was tested and the results were: anxiety and depression, loss of some executive functioning (the ability to complete multistage tasks like recipes, bill paying), and mild cognitive impairment. With that diagnosis, the hospital felt that she DID NOT have Alzheimer’s.

Now it is realized that in many cases these are early signs of Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that is irreversible, degenerative and terminal. It affects the brain in two ways: a formation of protein tangles and an amyloid build-up, both of which short circuit the brain and won’t allow information to travel around as it should. Someone used the example of a shotgun blast to the brain effecting different parts for different people. It doesn’t affect two people the same way. If you know one person with Alzheimer’s, you only know one person.

Currently there are only five FDA-approved medications for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, but none of the medications prevent or stop the disease. They merely slow down the progression.

I could take you through the tears, heartbreak, and frustrations of caregiving, but no two people grieve the same. Let’s just say that at the pinnacle of my turmoil, I dropped to my knees and asked out loud, “How can I stop drowning and start to grow from this. What are the lessons?”

The lessons follow.

How to contact Mo Grossberger

Mo Grossberger is available to speak to your group or for one-on-one counseling. He can be reached at 413-624-3954 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In lieu of compensation, he asks that donations be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.

Mo GrossbergerMo Grossberger

Part 2

We moved to Massachusetts to be closer to Jeanne’s mother, who had very advanced Alzheimer’s.

I remember the last time Hazel and I had a conversation:

“Hi, Hazel, do you know who I am?”

“Yes, Doctor, I remember you.”

“Do you know where you are?”

She looked around the living room where she had lived for over 50 years. “No, Doctor, I don’t know where we are.”

I pointed to a painting she had of the Great Wall of China. “What would you say if I told you that you walked the Great Wall of China?”

She replied, most uncharacteristically, “Doctor, I’d have to say you are full of crap.”

I realized that you DO NOT ask questions to someone with Alzheimer’s.

Three months later, Hazel was recovering from hip replacement in a nursing home. Her physician called us one morning and told us that she had developed congestive heart failure. He told us that we had two options: either send her to the hospital and make every effort to keep her alive or keep her comfortable and pain free. Her family gathered at her bedside, and she peacefully passed away the same day.

Around this same time I noticed that my wife’s symptoms were worsening. She was getting more forgetful, redundant, and paranoid, and she was misplacing things. We agreed that she would go through another full work-up at Franklin Medical, repeating the tests that had been done in Ohio three years earlier. She met with a team of specialists which included a neuropsychologist, a psychotherapist/social worker, a mental health clinical nurse specialist, and a psychiatrist. Following three days of extensive testing, we finally met with the psychiatrist, who told me, with my wife sitting right next to me, “Your wife has been diagnosed with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.”

Jeanne was incensed. “Don’t talk about me, talk to me. I know that you can’t be sure of the diagnosis unless you perform an autopsy, and I refuse to let you do that.”

I was equally angry that the doctor handled this so poorly. He offered no eye contact, no compassion. We fired him on the spot. Our lives never recovered from his impersonal message.

That day I learned that the Alzheimer’s patient MUST have an advocate. I stayed in that role for years and had to be a buffer several more times to protect her.

How to contact Mo Grossberger

Mo Grossberger is available to speak to your group or for one-on-one counseling. He can be reached at 413-624-3954 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In lieu of compensation he asks that donations be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.

Lessons Learned Mo and JeanneMo Grossberger poses with his late wife, Jeanne, whom Mo cared for during her years with Alzheimer's disease.

Part 3

As my wife’s Alzheimer’s progressed, I realized that Jeanne was slipping away from me as if I were trying to hold a handful of sand. It became more and more difficult for me to know what to expect. I realized that what had once worked for me one day might no longer work the next. She was not part of my world. I realized that I had to meet her where she was. I would have to learn to live in her world, the Alzheimer’s world.

I contacted someone from the Alzheimer’s Association and found that she was an invaluable resource for beginning to understand the disease and what I needed to do to adapt to my new role as caregiver.

We attempted to set up a tentative meeting with Jeanne’s four children from her first marriage. Later, each of her children would cancel out from the meeting, and I learned that we all grieve differently. I needed to set up a support network outside of her family.

I was advised to set up a health care proxy with her physicians so I could be included in the loop regarding her care.

She was adamant that I attend a support group for support. Their website lists the various choices available in each county. LifePath offers a wonderful group.

We discussed coming up with an emergency plan. This was the first of several times I heard, “What would happen to her if something happened to you?” This became an ongoing and powerful motivating mantra for me.

She suggested that I develop a plan for placing Jeanne in a long-term care facility, a decision I would put off for several years. I felt that with my social work background, who better than I could keep her home until the end? That decision nearly killed me.

She asked me, “What would you do to serve yourself if you had a day to play?” Both LifePath and the Alzheimer’s Association offered caregiver grants that would pay for respite care if I wanted to take some time off. I never took advantage of those because I wasn’t able to relinquish, even for a day, my responsibilities to her.

I had to try to recharge my mind and soul and, above all, be healthy and sane. This was far easier said than done.

How to contact Mo Grossberger

Mo Grossberger is available to speak to your group or for one-on-one counseling. He can be reached at 413-624-3954 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In lieu of compensation he asks that donations be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.

Lessons Learned JeanneJeanneMo found ways to help his wife, Jeanne, shown here, feel a sense of purpose and meaning in her life, even as the stages of her Alzheimer's disease progressed.

Part 4

When I finally accepted the fact that Jeanne’s children were not able to help me, I went about creating a service plan. I took a legal pad and drew a line down the center. On the left side Jeanne and I made a list of the losses she was experiencing and came up with quite a list. Then on the right we started, item by item, coming up with ideas to help with each loss.

For example, she mentioned having no purpose. I was able to get her a volunteer position at the local school where she would spend one hour a week reading to pre-school children. She loved this role and looked forward to it each week.

I arranged for a personal trainer to come to the house three times a week to help Jeanne maintain some muscle and balance. There was a peer counselor who came monthly and the two of them had wonderful chats. The Visiting Nurse came monthly. Jeanne would see a counselor monthly.

More and more we developed a wonderful support network. I posted on a huge calendar each daily activity she had, and each person who came would enter their follow-up appointment.

I also began writing my “daily love letters” which I taped next to her side of the bed, another to the bathroom mirror.

An example was, “Good morning, my beautiful angel. Today is Tuesday, December 9, 2006. Your friend Anne [her peer counselor] will be here this morning. I know how much you enjoy chatting with her.

“Later today Shellie [her personal trainer] is coming up here. You’re getting stronger every day.

“I hope you are as relieved as I to have our Christmas shopping behind us. [I made lists of each gift recipient and what gift she had chosen for them, and placed one in each room for her to see.]

“It sure doesn’t seem that we have lived in this lovely Colrain home for over three years. If you need me, my cell phone is 834-7374. Mo

“I love you more that all the stars in the sky. Our 30th wedding anniversary is coming up in March. We need to do something special… maybe a cruise?

“Today’s thought: Enjoy the little things in life, because one day you’ll realize they are the big things.”

I followed this format for many months.

How to contact Mo Grossberger

Mo Grossberger is available to speak to your group or for one-on-one counseling. He can be reached at 413-624-3954 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In lieu of compensation he asks that donations be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.

Mo GrossbergerMo Grossberger

Part 5

It was about 3 a.m. on a blustery winter’s night. Jeanne woke up screaming. “This isn’t our home. This is Bill’s home.” Bill was her former husband from whom she had divorced over 25 years earlier. I tried everything to convince her that this was indeed our home. I showed her our wedding vows hanging over our bed. I took her out to the hall where the walls were lined the many pictures of our combined family, but nothing would allay her doubts. Working with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is counter-intuitive. Logic doesn’t work.

Finally, out of sheer desperation and exhaustion, I agreed. “You’re right, this isn’t our home. We need to go.” We bundled up on that blustery winter night and got into the car. We drove around Colrain for a few minutes and returned home. As we were pulling into our driveway, I commented, “It will be so nice to get into our own bed again.” She smiled in agreement. We are only limited by our imagination.

I had to repeat that drama several more times. As I saw her getting agitated, looking around, I would say, “This isn’t our home. We need to leave,” and we would. Again and again we would return home, and all would be well, until the next time.

My greatest fear was the day I would see her and she wouldn’t know who I was. Intellectually I understood that the memory of an AD patient slowly rewinds, almost like peeling an onion. Emotionally, I knew that I would be devastated. Fortunately, that day never came.

The percentage of AD caregivers suffering from depression is very high. It is essential, if only for your own survival, to understand that you cannot do this alone. You MUST get help. There are support groups, family and friends, skilled- and faith-based counseling. I tried going to caregiver support groups, which are very effective for many people; however, I heard all these gut wrenching stories and I realized that I didn’t want to hear the end of the story. For me, one-on-one counseling was most effective, and it kept me sane.

How to contact Mo

Mo Grossberger is available to speak to your group or for one-on-one counseling. He can be reached at 413-624-3954 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In lieu of compensation, he asks that donations be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (www.curealz.org).

Mo GrossbergerMo Grossberger

Part 6

Jeanne and I filed a state handicap placard application, which her physician needed to complete. On the back was a question: “Do you feel that the patient should be retested?” The doctor checked, “Yes.”

Jeanne had to go to Springfield to take her driving test and preferred that one of her daughters go with her. She failed miserably. Shortly afterward she was told that her license was revoked.

This is an amazing part of her story. She had been diagnosed with loss of executive functioning years earlier which kept her from following any sort of multistage task like following a recipe or balancing a checkbook.

Without my knowledge, she wrote a letter to the state requesting that she be able to get a temporary license while she attended a driver’s education program so she could prepare to take the test again. The first I became aware of this was when she showed me the state’s reply granting her a hearing. She presented her plea to a panel and was granted the temporary license. She enrolled in and completed a driver’s education course, went down with her daughter to retake the test, and failed it badly. Having lost her license and living in Colrain, Jeanne felt very isolated and lonely.

Shortly after that I spoke to a SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) counselor who told me that Jeanne might be eligible for the Frail Elderly Waiver. To the best of my knowledge, this program is designed to help people who are nursing home eligible to maintain their independence with a paid personal care attendant (PCA).

She was assessed and deemed eligible for this service for 16 hours a week. I found someone with excellent credentials who lived nearby and could drive her around. I was still working at the time and now I didn’t have to worry about Jeanne being alone. Unfortunately, the PCA was very directive and my wife resented having a “baby sitter” and being told what to do and how to do it.

Then we found Dorie, an angel on earth.

She was gentle and caring and included Jeanne in decision making.

“Jeanne, I’m getting hungry. Are you? I can’t decide between a ham or tuna sandwich. Which would you like?”  

Dorie had a list of things Jeanne liked; activities, foods, restaurants. Dorie also had an envelope with some cash to take her out or go shopping.

Jeanne fell in love with Dorie, and I was so grateful for having some help.

How to contact Mo

Mo Grossberger is available to speak to your group or for one-on-one counseling. He can be reached at 413-624-3954 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In lieu of compensation, he asks that donations be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (www.curealz.org).

Mo GrossbergerMo Grossberger

Part 7

I took other steps to make Jeanne’s life easier. I made up several index cards on which I printed “Pride, Dignity & Independence.” These were posted in every room of the house to remind Jeanne what she is entitled to, and to let others know what is expected of them.

I put signs on each drawer and cabinet to let her know what was inside. Each evening, before we went to bed, I would bring out two outfits and ask her to decide what she wanted to wear the next day. I bought an easy TV remote that only had six buttons on it. In large lettering, it said, “On, Off, Volume up or down, Channel up or down.” It worked briefly before she began trying to use it to make phone calls.

I added a second phone line and got a post office box so all important calls and bills wouldn’t get lost. I got her a digital watch because an analog watch became too confusing. I had a huge calendar taped to the fridge listing all activities coming. Those people who came to see her added their next appointment to the calendar.

I added grab bars next to the toilet and in and out of the bathtub, a shower seat, and railings going up the front stairs. She developed bladder incontinence. I “reminded” her that she wanted to wear Dignity pads and had a chock pad under the sheet on her side of the bed, as well as having a bedside commode.

I didn’t worry about her leaving the stove on because she stopped cooking. I also had no concern about her wandering from the home because we had a very steep driveway, and she had difficulty walking outside without assistance.

I researched which vitamins and supplements might help her and reviewed them with her doctor. She insisted on filling her own medicine tray, so I had various used prescription bottles filled with extra vitamins. She read the labels and filled her own tray. Later I would empty the tray and refill the bottles. Then I would fill her matching med tray.

I had our wills drawn up; I became power-of-attorney and health care proxy. I had the house placed in my name only, using the Homestead Act.

I began seeing a psychotherapist who helped me maintain a semblance of sanity.

How to contact Mo

Mo Grossberger is available to speak to your group or for one-on-one counseling. He can be reached at 413-624-3954 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In lieu of compensation, he asks that donations be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (www.curealz.org).

Mo GrossbergerMo Grossberger

Part 8

I realized that knowledge was power. I wish this illness came with a rule book, but it doesn’t. I immersed myself in reading whatever I could, gathering a library of books and videos, searching the internet, looking for anything I could find. I tried, hit or miss, anything that might work to better serve my wife and educate myself.

I developed something I later learned was a memory book. It was in a red cover with the title page, “Jeanne’s Very Important Papers.”

It began with a childhood picture of Jeanne, with a paragraph including her birthdate and parents’ names, followed by another paragraph that read, “She has dedicated her life as a mother, wife, nurse, and a community servant who has touched many people’s lives along the way. After a life of serving others, we find it an honor to serve her.”

Next was a timeline with dates and items beginning with her divorce from her first husband, our marriage, some various medical issues that arose, and our son’s birth through college graduation; it also included the date of her Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Other pages that followed included her divorce decree from Bill and his obituary, our wedding vows and pictures, and a picture of our marriage license. It had a picture of our home in Cleveland and several pictures of our home in Colrain. I took pictures of several rooms of our home while sitting where Jeanne would sit, so she would see it from her perspective. It had individual pages with pictures of her four children and one of our son with paragraphs including their names and a little blurb about each of them. There were individual pages of her Personal Care Attendant (PCA; I’ll talk about her later), her trainer, her sister, our dog, and more. The final page read, “It is never the end… Life is a journey, the best is yet to come.”

Whenever she seemed disoriented or began to get agitated, I would point to the book and ask her what that was. She looked through the book dozens of times, and each time she saw it, it was for the first time.

How to contact Mo

Mo Grossberger is available to speak to your group or for one-on-one counseling. He can be reached at 413-624-3954 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In lieu of compensation, he asks that donations be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (www.curealz.org).

Mo GrossbergerMo Grossberger

Part 9

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY PURSE? GIVE IT BACK TO ME… RIGHT NOW!”

This was my introduction to a new phase of Jeanne’s illness, filled with both paranoia and delusion. It was also her way of teaching me another very important lesson: Separate the illness from the person. I had to remember that this was her illness talking, not my wife. This was one of the harder lessons I had to learn.

Initially I was devastated. At no time in our many years of marriage was there any reason for either of us to not trust the other. Yet, for weeks to come I was accused to stealing more and more things from her, things that she hid, like a squirrel hiding its acorns, then forgetting where they were hidden.

She received small stipend checks from a couple of accounts she had. She insisted that Dorie take her to the bank to prevent me from stealing these monies. Months later, I discovered some of the envelopes throughout the house, under socks in a drawer, behind mirrors, inside pockets of clothes hung in the closet. And each time I was accused of stealing them from her.

Several weeks after the purse incident, something prompted me to look inside a clothes hamper we never used in the bedroom. Under a pile of clothes… was her purse! Jeanne was sitting on the bed. I reached down, retrieved the purse, and said happily, “Look what I found.” Rather than being grateful, she screamed at me, “Why are you hiding my things? Do I have to call the police?” Weeks later, this paranoia ended, but not soon enough.

Many times she would say something that was blatantly wrong, such as wanting to visit her parents who had died years earlier or wanting to get dressed so she could go to work. I realized a new lesson: Don’t correct, redirect. I began noticing how often I would correct her over small issues. This would only get her very upset and only fed my ego.

I would redirect the conversation. Rather than telling her that her parents had passed away, I would get her to reminisce with me about some happy memories of being their daughter. Old memories are the last to go, so she had many wonderful and vivid stories to share with me. Her smile glowed as she remembered all these happy moments.

How to contact Mo

Mo Grossberger is available to speak to your group or for one-on-one counseling. He can be reached at 413-624-3954 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In lieu of compensation, he asks that donations be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (www.curealz.org).

Mo GrossbergerMo Grossberger

Part 10

One day while I was working at Cooley-Dickinson, I received an urgent phone call from Dorie. Jeanne had fallen in the hall, tore the skin on her arm, and was bleeding profusely. She had been on a medication for years that had the side effect of tissue-thin skin. I told Dorie that I would meet them in the Emergency Room of Baystate Franklin Medical Center.

While driving up, Dorie called me again to tell me that they were bandaging her arm and sending her home soon. I told Dorie I would meet them at home.I arrived before Dorie. The hallway where Jeanne had fallen was a bloody mess. I took the runner outside and hosed it down waiting for them to come home.

Shortly afterward, they arrived. Jeanne had a bandage from wrist to elbow. I held her hand and asked her what had happened. She looked at her arm and said, “I have no idea.” I wept. Still holding her hand, I told her that everything Dorie and I were doing didn’t seem to be enough. Even though Jeanne wore a gait belt, which allowed us to hold onto her when she walked around, this was her third fall in two weeks.

I also told her that I was being treated for depression.

She looked at me and asked, “What would happen to me if something happened to you, Mo?” We wept together.

That evening I emailed several friends. I asked two questions: “When is it time to place her? What can I expect?” I heard back from everyone within one day, and they all had the same two answers: “If you have to ask, it’s time,” and, “She will be fine, but it will be hard for you.”

The next day, I did some research and found that there were only two extended care facilities that met my criteria: locked Alzheimer’s unit, staff trained by the Alzheimer’s Association, excellent references from family members, and a good staff-to-patient ratio.

I scheduled a tour of the facility closer to my home and was very pleased with everything I saw. The intake manager told me there was one other person ahead of us on the waiting list, but she would let me know when a bed became available.

How to contact Mo

Mo Grossberger is available to speak to your group or for one-on-one counseling. He can be reached at 413-624-3954 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In lieu of compensation, he asks that donations be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (www.curealz.org).

Mo GrossbergerMo Grossberger

Part 11

Less than a week after our name was placed on the waiting list at the extended care facility, I got a call at work telling me that they had a bed for her, and she could move in tomorrow, Friday. I asked if I could call them right back, went out to my car, cried until I had no more tears, came back to the office, and called them back.

When I spoke with them, I asked if they could hold the bed until the following Monday because we were taking a bus trip to Boston on Saturday and this was going to be the last trip I would be able to take with my wife. They agreed, and told us she could move the following Tuesday.

We had a delightful trip: perfect weather and a delightful group of people. I took Jeanne’s wheelchair to avoid any further falls. We took a Duck Tour (absolutely delightful), had lunch in an Italian restaurant that we both enjoyed, then shopped at Quincy Market. The market had a cobblestone walkway which was very bumpy for her wheelchair, so she and I went to the bus and waited for the others to return.

While we were driving back to Greenfield, I asked her if she enjoyed Boston. “Mo, you know I haven’t been back to Boston since nursing school.” (Sigh.)

On Monday, one of her daughters and I brought several things from our home to her new room to help her with the transition. It was suggested that I give her reasons for the placement.

Tuesday, we went out for breakfast and then went for a short ride into the country. I pulled over and, holding her hand, told her, “I know you have concerns about my health lately, and I agree with you. It’s been very tough. I’ve made arrangements for you to go into a rehab facility for three reasons: you need to get stronger, I need to get stronger, and you will meet other patients there who have absolutely no one: no family, no friends. Because of your wonderful skills as a counselor, your job is to seek these people out and let them know that they are not alone.”

She looked at me, smiled, and said, “If this is what you feel I need, it’s ok with me.” Talk about trust!!

How to contact Mo

Mo Grossberger is available to speak to your group or for one-on-one counseling. He can be reached at 413-624-3954 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In lieu of compensation, he asks that donations be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (www.curealz.org).

Mo GrossbergerMo Grossberger

Part 12

To all of you Alzheimer’s disease caregivers past and present, you and I belong to a very exclusive club that no one wants to join. We have been raised with honest values that we will need to compromise in order to help our loved ones.

For me, telling fiblets to Jeanne was very hard. I prided our marriage as one based on honesty, but as Jeanne’s illness progressed I realized that it was more important to placate her than remain true to my word.

A reoccurring example: after she was placed in an extended care facility, she would plead with me to take her home. I used two different fiblets: “You need to be here a little longer to get stronger,” and, “I can't right now, but I can come back later to pick you up.” Were these lies? No, just fiblets. 

Once when I came to visit her, Jeanne was shocked to see me. “How did you find me? I’m in the middle of the ocean on a cruise ship.” I told her that once I found out where she was, I jumped in the water and swam like crazy to catch up to the ship. Her smile lit up the room.

I also learned that by the time I left and got into my car she more than likely would have forgotten that I had just visited her, but the emotion she had when I left would linger for quite a while. I did everything in my power to leave her laughing and smiling.

Often when Jeanne was having a bad day, Karen, one of the nurses would ask her, “Nurse Jeanne, I’m very behind in transcribing some notes. Would you do this for me?” Jeanne would be thrilled. The patient’s name was Hans Solo. She would very slowly transcribe the notes into his file. When she was though, the nurse would thank her and then throw out Jeanne’s notes only to repeat this request again and again.

Jeanne had a sense of purpose, something each of us needs and enjoys.

How to contact Mo

Mo Grossberger is available to speak to your group or for one-on-one counseling. He can be reached at 413-624-3954 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In lieu of compensation, he asks that donations be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (www.curealz.org).

Mo GrossbergerMo Grossberger

Part 13

Trips to the emergency room had become almost commonplace. While Jeanne was home, she went for assorted reasons: a heart attack, a fractured hip, several nose bleeds, a developed blood clot on her leg, and several falls. While in the nursing home, she went because of other assorted reasons. So when I received a call on August 15, 2010, from Shannon, an RN, telling me they were concerned that she was dehydrated, I thought nothing of it, and told her that I would meet my wife in the ER.

When I arrived, the physician ushered me into a room and told me that Jeanne was having a massive stroke, was in a coma, had no pain, and would not survive the day. Numb, I called her family and told them where she was and what was happening. In a few minutes, they were all surrounding her bed, where she laid unresponsive. Each person was given some alone time with her to say what they needed to say.

That night, at 9:30 p.m., I was holding her hand with a finger on her pulse, and I felt it fade, then finally stop. It was remarkably peaceful.

I went home and wrote an email to our friends and family telling them of the many miracles that had just occurred: she was without any pain, the family was with her, she never forgot our names, she hadn’t died from Alzheimer’s.

At the moment I sent the email, I saw a golden gossamer sheet descend and wrap itself around me. I experienced a glowing love as I had never felt before. I smiled through my tears and said out loud, “Jeanne, you have only been on the other side for an hour and already you are learning new tricks.”

The one thing I had not addressed during the last few years with her was, “What were my needs?” It was nothing I had considered, and now that she was gone I really had to examine what they were. It took me a year to start to realize what I wanted for me. I began to feel alive again.

During the years I cared for my wife, I learned many lessons. These articles allowed me to share some of them. The most important lesson she taught me is: “All we have is this moment. It’s all we really have.”

It’s been over five years now since she is gone. These articles are just a small way I am able to give back to the community. Thank you for following my journey.

How to contact Mo

Mo Grossberger is available to speak to your group or for one-on-one counseling. He can be reached at 413-624-3954 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In lieu of compensation, he asks that donations be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (www.curealz.org).