I wrote this for my newspaper in 1998 not suspecting that a few years, it would become Bill's and my path.

She saw it coming. Family members and friends scoffed saying she was wrong; that it was her imagination. Early on he would forget a word or a name. “We all forget at our age,” her friends would say. But she knew. Secretly she feared and dreaded what came next. Slowly, over the course of the next four years, the deterioration she feared ultimately stole her husband. 
When doctors told her it was dementia, probably Alzheimer’s disease, tears fell. Soon it would steal from him taking his mental abilities. No longer would he respond as the warm loving spouse she had known in their many years of marriage. Eventually he did not even know her.
Sometimes he would get enraged or cry for no obvious reason. The grandchildren would climb on his lap only to be shunned by the grandpa who used to greet them with hugs and toys
Sadness filled her as she approached the nursing home for her weekly visit. She dreaded going but couldn't stay away. As she combed his hair and trimmed his nails her mind was filled with memories of times when she would ruffle his hair as they teased each other playfully. She remembered how his hands would fix things around the house and hand her a bouquet of flowers on no special occasion.

There were times when she wished he would die and be free of his misery. Guilt would flow forth at the acknowledgement of this desire. Was it his peace she wanted or her own? Probably both. There were moments when she realized the pain was only hers…that he did not have a concept of time anymore and was not really aware of his loss.
It was early one morning when the call came. “Your husband was rushed to the hospital a few moments ago,” the voice said. “Can you come?” The drive to the hospital was filled with anxiety and pain. A sense of relief flowed in and out of her awareness. “Maybe God will take him,” the small voice inside of her said.

It was too late when she arrived at his bedside. “His death was quick and peaceful,” the nurse said in an effort to comfort her. But nothing could comfort her at this moment. She was alone in a new way. He had died many months before but the finality of this moment tore into her heart. The funeral was simple. Family and friends attended and stumbled through their words of sympathy. The house seemed quieter that night after everyone left her alone. Photos of she and Tim brought back happy memories. There was the table he made standing sturdily in the corner.

As tears rolled down her face, Tim’s dog curled up in her lap seemingly aware that his master had died. In the darkness of the house, she sat alone, no one really knowing the pain she felt that day. “Alzheimer’s disease,” she thought, “not death-robbed me of my husband and friend.” 
Resources: 

Alzheimer's Foundation of America


About Alzheimer's Warning Signs Although every case of Alzheimer's disease is different, experts have identified common warning signs of the brain disease. Remember, Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging, and it is important to look for signs that might indicate Alzheimer's disease versus basic forgetfulness or other conditions. With Alzheimer's disease, these symptoms gradually increase and become more persistent.

If someone is exhibiting these symptoms, the person should check out his or her concerns with a healthcare professional. Awareness of these warning signs is not a substitute for a consultation with a primary care provider or other qualified healthcare professional.

Typical warning signs include:
~Memory loss, especially of recent events, names, placement of objects, and other new information
~Confusion about time and place
~Struggling to complete familiar actions, such as brushing teeth or getting dressed 
~Trouble finding the appropriate words, completing sentences, following directions and conversations
~Poor judgment when making decisions
~Changes in mood and personality, such as increased suspicion, rapid and persistent mood swings,     withdrawal, and disinterest in usual activities
~Difficulty with complex mental assignments, such as balancing a checkbook or other tasks involving numbers
Alzheimer's Reading Room

The goal of the Alzheimer's Reading Room is to Educate and Empower the Alzheimer's community. At its core the ARR is about helping Alzheimer's caregivers and families to better understand, cope, and communicate with persons living dementia. We cover news, information, help, support, and the focus is always on Alzheimer's care and dementia care.

When you visit this site, you will see a place to subscribe to its mailings. This is an extremely helpful site.


Family Caregiver Alliance
A majority of us will be caregivers at some point in our lives. As loved ones age, debilitating disease, chronic health conditions or simple frailty can soon follow. Or we may end up caring for someone permanently injured from an accident. While some employ paid providers, most rely on unpaid assistance from families, friends and neighbors. We won't always know when we'll be needed as a caregiver, but there are things we can do to feel more prepared.
 


Comments

07/14/2014 2:59pm

Poignant, eloquent, and so, so sad. It took a minute to realized it was a story about another woman's heartbreak, so familiar but with distinct personal features. My heart breaks as I remember experiences of my mother's last decade. Yes, Alzheimer's is a thief.
Thank you, Mary.

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Mary Friedel-Hunt
07/15/2014 5:32pm

Yes, Elaine...each story is so similar and so unique. Thank you.

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