Lessons Learned: One man’s journey as an Alzheimer’s caregiver
- Published: 29 February 2016
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