Lessons Learned: One man’s journey as an Alzheimer’s caregiver
- Written by Mo Grossberger
- Published: 05 November 2015
Mo 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.
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