Alzheimer's blog

Caregiver begins journey by transforming herself

By Angela Lunde November 16, 2010

Last week in a new support group I was facilitating, six care partners — all women, introduced themselves to one another. Each woman spoke at length about her husband. They brought up the struggles their husbands were having with memory and reasoning. Some spoke about the changes in behavior and personality. They mentioned numerous ways in which they were trying to help their husbands. However, when it was Roseanne's turn to speak, she said something more like this:

"When my spouse was first diagnosed, I was not thinking how can I help him, or what can I do for him, how he'll cope or what will this will be like for him. My initial response to my husband's diagnosis was, What about me? How will I get through this? Who will help me through my grief? I know this may sound selfish, but I instinctually knew I needed to take care of myself or I would be headed down a path of emotional and possibly physical decline.

"So, I immediately started seeing a therapist twice a week to work with my grief, I nurtured my relationships with good friends, I began to journal, I made a commitment to physical activity, and I took up a hobby I had relinquished some time ago.

"Now, almost 8 months after my husband's diagnosis, I can appreciate what will be required of me to transition from my role of wife and into one of caregiver. I am in a better place physically and emotionally to meet the inevitable challenges I will face. I can accept the truth as it pertains to our life right now and cope with what is. This does not mean that it will be easy or that I like it. My husband's diagnosis at 63 was, and is, devastating, but by taking care of myself I know I have been strengthened."

"We can't change the loss, but we can transform ourselves."

- Antonio Sausys, yoga therapist

Nov. 16, 2010