The Stealer. Our Journey with Early On-Set Alzheimer's Disease.
by Rosanna Glennon
Our journey with Early On-Set Alzheimers started the very moment my husband retired from March Air Force Base, 1/2005. Zero enjoyment from retirement-zero everything. He was 58 I was 53. He has gone through each and every symptom of this dreadful stealing disease. He was a man that could do anything- a plumbing contractor, builder, you name it, now he cannot even hold a toothbrush or sit in a chair without extreme help-he is my 63 year old child. People were always calling on my husband to work for them. I had to sell our home, his truck, Alzheimers steals everything from you-piece by piece, material, emotionally and physically. Friends, family have zero concept, the caregiver becomes isolated and piece by piece, the caregiver loses his or herself. How enjoyable is it to go out to a restaurant, pulling your poor shuffling husband by the arm, taking 5 minutes just to seat him in a chair, and then having to feed him?? We used to go out all the time- just think how it would be to see your husband disappear everyday.
Alzheimers is like grieving a death each day. Your companion is disappearing, everything is on your shoulders, your mate, your love has gone, and who is this person in their place?? You miss work because of his doctor's appointments, you sob as you watch your love get on a little school bus for his first day of Day-Care at a Day Care Center, you are called to his Day Care as he has wet his pants-piece by piece, YOU, as a caregiver spouse, are stripped away!! Imagine, watching your spouse at home, eating with their hands and fingers just like a baby- getting the food everywhere- it is heartbreaking!! Eyesight, walking, grasping, eating, taste goes. ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE IS NOT JUST A MEMORY PROBLEM- IT IS A DESTROYER OF LIVES. Little things piece by piece stripped away, jobs, exercising, (I used to walk, but now he wakes up and yells for me or I did not have a sitter for him while I went to Curves.) People say, "He looks good, he even spoke." Of course, they only saw him for a moment- come and be with us for a few hours. Will I survive this or will this stealer take both of us?
The caregiver's life is in limbo- one thing you know is that if YOU survive this horrible ordeal, you will be alone without your loved one, you have aged a great deal, you are angry at those who had no idea or care what you went through. As a caregiver, you are the eyes and savior for that afflicted person. Everything is up to you, every glass of water, every morsel of food, every pill, dressing, shaving, health, walking-after years of this you become drained and keep trying to climb out of this terrible hole. All the caregiver spouse has is memories-they try to remember who that person was before this stealer came. That's all we have are memories. Songs make us cry, small thing make us cry, even needing air in my tires make me cry, needing a toilet seat replaced makes me cry, as he always did things, and now no one cares to even ask if you may need something. No more trips together, HE DID NOT EVEN GET TO ENJOY RETIREMENT- AS ALZHEIMERS HAPPENED THE VERY SECOND HE RETIRED. Our grandsons miss him and don't know how to act around him. The caregiver is alone in this- there are two casualties- the afflicted and the caregiver. I am 59 and do not know what is to come- but I am still trying not to drown in this ordeal. If anyone reads this, please help a caregiver, ask them and MEAN IT, if they need anything.