Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.—2 CORINTHIANS 4:16 (NLV)
First, there was that agonizing day at the doctor’s office. The nausea of hearing my husband’s terrifying early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis, even though I’d known for weeks it was likely.
For a while after that, I was too exhausted and depressed by the changes to our lives to even want to get out of bed. But slowly, sparks of life returned. The doctor’s words boomed in our ears: “It won’t get better. Whatever you want to do, you should do it now.” So Bob and I sat at the kitchen table together and made a “bucket list.” We took a trip to Alaska while he was still able to navigate.
The mid-stages of this disease included a new circle of fellow dementia couples. Within this accepting group, we could be ourselves. We had each other’s backs. We shared museum trips and game nights, dinners and short-term travel. We continued to live our lives and even to thrive.
I’m in a different stage now. While my Bob is late-stage Alzheimer’s, I’ve begun to rebuild my life, tiptoeing forward without him. Last month was my first solo gallery exhibition of photographs and woodwork. I’m actually creating again!
Like the diseases that afflict our loved ones, each caregiver also goes through stages. Understanding and moving with those changes works better than fighting—or ignoring—them.