Hi, my name is George and my wife, Joan, had Alzheimer’s disease. I was her caregiver for several years, and in the last few years, she required 24/7 care due to her mobility problems as well as her Alzheimer’s. At the beginning of her journey, we worked with our doctor, but after a year or so, she referred my wife to the Memory Clinic at St. Joseph’s Hospital where she was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
My wife’s dementia meant that I spent most of my time with her and I was unable to continue many of my normal activities in the community. We both decided to be completely open about her diagnosis and advised every one of the situation. Because our two children and their families were in Ontario, they were unable to provide assistance; however, they were supportive in other ways.
Unable to obtain assistance, there were many challenges that fell on my shoulders and new problems seemed to arise on a regular basis. Towards the end of her journey, my wife needed a wheelchair due to her arthritic knees. I was fortunate to be able to hire a lady to do cleaning and such, and to help my wife first with her shower and later to give her a bed bath. She and my wife clicked from the start which was helpful to me.
After my wife’s diagnosis, we attended the five part series offered by the Alzheimer Society and I began attending the Support Group each month. I also gathered a great deal of printed material from the Society, which proved helpful when I was looking for answers to problems. The office in Saint John was always willing to talk with me and, if they didn’t have an answer, would call around to get one for me.
I am sharing my story because I want to work to increase the public’s awareness about Alzheimer’s and to reduce stigma regarding dementia. To keep the conversation going, I post items to my Facebook page and speak to groups such as the Dalhousie Medical Students here in Saint John and in Halifax. I am also always happy to help with requests from the Alzheimer Society of NB’s provincial office.
Thank you for reading my story,
Saint John, NB