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Lessons Learned: One man’s journey as an Alzheimer’s caregiver

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.