A Change for The Alzheimer Spouse

An elderly couple wait to cross the road
It Begins
June 15, 2016
MESSAGE BOARD ISSUES
August 24, 2016
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A Change for The Alzheimer Spouse

Joan Gershman small

Welcome to the new, updated version of the Alzheimer Spouse. It has been a long time coming, and I appreciate your patience during this last most difficult year.

When my husband’s physical health started to decline, and my own depression worsened, I was unable to motivate myself to get out of bed, except to visit Sid in the nursing home, never mind put any effort into working on the website. As I have told you before, after 12 years of living with Alzheimer’s Disease, and watching that dreadful disease dismantle my beloved husband, best friend, lover, and cheerleader piece by piece, I thought I had grieved until I could grieve no more. I thought his death would bring me some peace and relief. Wrong on all accounts. After his death in June 2015, I completely fell apart emotionally. Never in my life have I known such paralyzing despair, mental and emotional pain, and devastation. Honestly, unless one has been through this “widow thing”, there is no way to truly understand the anguish.

On July 14, 2007, along with informational resources (left side of the home page) and emotional support (Message Boards), I began chronicling my husband’s and my own journey through Alzheimer’s Disease in weekly, sometimes daily blogs. I held nothing back in sharing the trauma and emotional pain the disease caused both of us. It was a difficult decision on my part to “go public”, and lay bare our experiences and emotional upheaval to the world. In hindsight, I feel that the positive results of my blogs and in depth, honest, never before emotional discussions based upon them, far outweighed my desire for privacy. We learned so much from each other – from our practical advice on everything from previously never discussed personal hygiene to our resentment, anger, and deep hurt at losing ourselves as spouses as we transitioned to caregivers.

Because of my raw honesty in sharing incidents and emotions that previously had never been discussed, Alzheimer Spouses around the globe discovered that their innermost unexpressed thoughts were universal. Nowhere before this website was launched, had there ever been discussions regarding the changing nature of the marriage when Alzheimer’s Disease invades it. Never had spouses been able to discuss with others in their situation, the resentment, anger, and fear they felt in the utter exhaustion of caregiving. I am proud to have initiated the conversation, which is now written about in many more magazine and newspaper articles.

I doubt there is an incident, behavior, or emotion that we have not discussed. Every blog topic can be found by using the search engine on the left side of this home page above Old Blogs. Every discussion topic can be found by going to the Message Boards and clicking “search” at the top of the page.

However, due to a year’s neglect on my part, advanced technology, and updates in design, the website had become dated and had many unworkable links. It was in need of a complete technological overhaul. My computer expert and his team have worked for months to bring the website into the 21st century, updating and fixing all of the links, hosting, training me in new web design software, and technical support. My emotional state has made their job quite challenging, as I have not always been able to deliver the written material they have needed in a timely manner.

The changes will be as follows:

For those who are new to The Alzheimer Spouse, and those veterans who are still caregiving, my current “caregiving” blogs will be replaced by a “weekly theme”. My journey as a caregiving spouse is over, but you will now have the benefit of blogs, discussion topics, outside articles, and new “guest blogs” concerning a weekly topic that I choose. Generally, I will choose a topic based upon what is “trending” on the Message Boards. In non computer language, that simply means that I will read the boards and determine what subject is of particular interest during that week. Sometimes there will not be an obvious topic, sometimes not, but I can assure you that I will choose one that I feel is important and relevant to you.

You trusted me and came along with me into uncharted territory 9 years ago, and together we built a safe place for Alzheimer Spouses to learn, discuss previously unmentioned topics, support one another, and do so anonymously. I ask you to trust me again, and come along with me as I offer you the best I can deliver in the support and education on what it means to be an Alzheimer Spouse.

To those of you who have crossed the bridge as I have, from Alzheimer Spouse to Alzheimer Widow, I invite you (and anyone else who is interested, of course) to read my new blogs in A Widow’s Journey. It will be in a special section on the left side of the home page. My widow story should have been written as my Alzheimer Spouse story was written – in real time as it happened. However, I was so unprepared for the utter devastation Sid’s death wreaked upon me, that I was unable to write about it for a year. It is now 14 months since I sat by his bed as my beloved husband took his last breath. I am only now coming out of the fog to be able to write again. I would not be “me” if the writing was not pure and honest, regardless of how gut wrenching, so I will be relying on emails and journal entries of the last year to bring you with me on my Widow’s Journey. It is my hope that your will learn from it, just as you have from my caregiving blogs. Tomorrow, the first Widow’s Journey Blog will be posted.

I thank all of you once again for your support, patience, and understanding. It has a been a long, winding road of despair from which I have not yet recovered, but am now at least able to function to the degree that I am able to return to website work.