Kim’s Story: An Alzheimer’s caregiver


An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is scary, but living day by day allows her to continue ahead.

March 1, 2023

When I met Jeffrey, we were both single and had children. I had gone through a rough divorce, and he had been divorced for many years. I had two small children, and he had a daughter.

When we came together, we did a lot of research on blended families. We joked that it was like throwing everybody in a Crockpot and waiting a few years for everything to fall in place with good relationships. It took a few years, but we became a united family. Our kids got along, and we learned how to stepparent and become one family.

Jeffrey worked as a computer software developer, and I worked at the courthouse. We'd typically go out for dinner twice a week, listen to live music, attend church every Sunday and travel to Jamaica at least once a year. We were happy.


My husband's Alzheimer's diagnosis


But our world changed five years ago when Jeffrey's health began to decline. He started to decline about a year before us even thinking anything was wrong. He had a good job, which was a need in preparation for our kids going to college. But he couldn't handle the role anymore. He said to me, "Kim, I just can't."

Jeffrey stayed in his role for another year before we noticed his memory deteriorating. We started at our neurologists, and they misdiagnosed him. So I began to call Columbia University. I said, "There's something wrong with my husband. You have got to get him in." We got into the head of neurology, and she knew right away that he had Alzheimer's.

Becoming a caregiver


The day the neurologist called with the diagnosis, I became a caregiver.

I remembered what the neurologist said as we left her office after Jeffrey's appointment. She looked at me and said, "You need to get everything in order." I didn't know what that meant at the time, but Jeffrey and I began to plan. We created wills and tended to some more considerations of what life had for us now.

I'm type A, and I like to plan. As I read more about Alzheimer's disease, I realized I could only plan the next year because I didn't know how Jeffrey would be in two, three or eight years. So I panicked at thinking about the future. I wanted to be with Jeffrey as much as possible. I worked two jobs, and I would try to run home in between them just so I could see him and give him a hug and kiss. It became very stressful trying to ensure I was showing Jeffrey constant love, as I didn't know if he'd forget who I was the following year.


Caring for the caregiver


Jeffrey is a very positive person. I'm a realist, and it's hard to always see the positive. Something I do to keep my positivity up is to spend time with Jeffrey constantly. For example, going to dinner. I never want to be negative around him, so I hold it until I'm alone to feel all my feelings.

After five years of being a caregiver, I was struggling. At my counselor's office, I explained how I feel so guilty. There was this time with my younger daughter – we were at dinner for business, and I was rushing. I told her we had to go home even though the meeting wasn't done. I had worked all day at the courthouse and hadn't been home yet to see Jeffrey, and I needed to see him before he went to bed at 8 p.m. Once my counselor heard that, she told me, it's not the quantity of time, but the quality. She told me that I needed to care for myself, too.

A few months later, I'm slowly learning to take time for myself. To be a good caregiver, I must ensure I'm taken care of. It helps that Jeffrey is very supportive of me. He once said that, as my husband, he “needs to care for his caregiver."

I used to think about next year and what's ahead constantly, but I realized that I was missing out on so much with that mindset. Now I say this: Live day by day. Getting a diagnosis is very scary, but accepting your fate allows you to continue.



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