I didn’t begin this journal with a grand plan in mind. I think the fact that my mother had an undiagnosed form of dementia had something to do with it. By the time I was aware of her situation, she was well into her journey. I was surprised that I hadn’t picked up many of the signs that must have accompanied her illness. A few years before, my parents had moved from West Palm Beach to Knoxville to be near Kate and me. Dad never mentioned anything about Mom’s having a problem, but later I began to wonder if that hadn’t played a role in their move.
My knowledge of Kate’s experience was much greater, and I felt an urge to document the progression of her illness. As with my mom, I can’t pinpoint the actual beginning of her Alzheimer’s. I do recall, however, that Kate had been concerned long before the diagnosis. My most vivid early memory was a trip she made to Raleigh to attend a shower for our niece in the summer of 2006. I had been concerned about her getting lost and had set the GPS to get her to the shower’s location and back home. I hadn’t counted on her going any other place until I received her frantic phone call telling me she had no idea where she was.
It was sometime before this that Kate made periodic references to the possibility of having Alzheimer’s. I always told her that the memory issues she was having were natural, that everyone our age has them. As time passed, I began to see other signs that told me she might be right. She had been responsible for our evening meals. Now when I would get home, I discovered that she hadn’t planned anything for dinner. Often she hadn’t done any shopping at all. Beyond that I found that she was not taking care of housekeeping as well as she had before. I also knew that she was slipping on a few of her commitments in her volunteer responsibilities.
My journal was a way of keeping a record of what we were experiencing. I had also heard a lot of people talk about the therapeutic benefits of journaling. I wasn’t thinking of that specifically, but that has turned out to be helpful to me as a coping mechanism.
That led me to think about the possibility that others might find our experience helpful. We are just one couple. Each of us is unique; however, I am hoping that some of you will connect with us and our experiences. My wish is that everyone could achieve the same level of happiness we have had while “Living with Alzheimer’s.”