Guest Post by Sheri Zschocher
I have been an Alzheimer spouse for four years. Today, I know more about the disease; for example, I know my husband, Bob, had it many years before he was officially diagnosed at age 64. Through this journey, I realize that Alzheimer’s disease has created a life of shadows; not only for Bob, but for me at age 54, and our two daughters.
For my husband with Alzheimer’s, dark shadows replace the man he once was as he drifts further away.
For my then teenage daughters, the shadow veiled their ability to see life for what it should be at such a tender age. Their lives have been guided by the needs of their father or by trying to support my needs as his caregiver. They retreated from these shadows seeking shelter and comfort in their own thoughts.
Their friends did not understand how this disease that struck their father really affected our whole the family. It changed the way they view life and their experiences. It forced them to surrender the more carefree way of life that their friends were living, resulting in unspoken jealousy. Today, as young adults, the girls are starting to talk about their feelings. I worry whether such jealousy may transform into anger later in their lives, creating yet another shadow. As a mother, my heart aches for them.
For me, there are two shadows of loss – one, not being able to put my needs ahead of my husband’s; and two, losing an intimate martial relationship as Alzheimer’s causes Bob to grow more distant.
As Bob’s caregiver, the shadow creates an invisible and unwelcome shield. Friends stay away because they don’t know what to say or how to help me. This shield is the barrier that prevents me from participating in life.
Caring for the shadow of the man I love, means a living life of isolation–a very lonely life. I risk becoming a darker shadow of my former self.
I need help lifting the shadows of this disease.
I will be able to accomplish change by sharing my experiences and in doing so I am giving caregiving a voice. A shadow may be hard to see, but a voice will still be heard.
Edited by The Caregiver’s Voice
Brenda Avadian, MA of The Caregiver’s Voice writes: Thank you, Sheri for sharing your journey of caring for your husband, Bob. Blogging at (click on link to read more) Living in the Shadow of Alzheimer’s helps you and others. You feel less burdened when you have a way to move your thoughts out of your mind. By posting online, you help many others who are walking the road of caregiving. Again, thank you for being a voice for caregivers.
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