Don from Colorado

My responsibility as a Caregiver began approximately 18 months ago. During that period it has evolved from my wife and I being quite independent but completing our specific roles as husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, neighbors and maintaining personal and family friends. This has now changed.

My wife and I have lived together for 50 years. Each had great health and each had lived a life where we took care of ourselves and each other.

Then, my daughters began to notice some changes with some of behavioral patterns of my wife. She got lost coming home from church, she began to forget various responsibilities, she began to forget which day of the week it was, and couldn’t remember our friend’s names. Yes, it became more serious but these were indicators.

Finally, she must have fallen, since she developed pain in her legs and began to walk very gingerly. We discovered she had broken her pelvis. In conjunction with this she lost greater capability to remember and became more dependent, without believing this was the case. We discovered she had dementia. I did not know what that was and how this would change our relationship.

At this juncture, my role as husband began to change. Do I begin to take over the role as cleaning the house, planning and preparing the meals, answering the phone, controlling the taking of the pills and making sure the weekly wash be completed.. Yes, the everyday responsibilities.

I was difficult for me. I began to ask persons- neighbors, professional friends, other individuals who had/were having the same experience who informed me how I should respond and change. And, I asked for assistance from professionals. What is dementia? How will this change the behavior of my wife and me? Will this change my role as husband and father and as a professional person? Where do I get help.

My daughters were and are great. But my relationship with them has changed too. At times they have become my parent. They would and are telling me what I should do. How I should change. Should we ask for outside assistance—such as hiring someone to be with mom so I could continue to be in study groups etc. This has been both threatening but very helpful.

I had been a fairly independent person. At 80 years old, I still was and am involved with non-profit activities and responsibilities. I was still teaching online at a local university. I was involved in some political campaigning. I had friends who kept my professional and social interests alive. And, took courses focusing on current events.

Now, the greater responsibility focuses around the home, my wife and my new identify as Caregiver.