Jan 25, 2012

My Life is Rich in Experience, and Rich in Spirit

This is not the first time I reinvented myself, and it won't the last. Just you wait and see.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Jane Gross wrote an article about the Alzheimer's Reading Room on the New Old Age blog on the New York Times website. If you have not yet read it, go here.

I realize there are a lot of people that worry about me and my health. I do appreciate your concern.

A lot of people think "I have no life".

I understand its hard for most people to understand what I am doing, why I am doing it, and how I think and feel.

Its time to clear some of this up.

I have a life that is rich in experience, and is now rich in spirit.

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A reader over on the New Old Age wrote this in the form of a comment,
I think it is insane to even consider - sacrificing the rest of our life in its entirety - work; marriage; friendship; any other leisure pursuits EVER -to care for an elder who needs round-the-clock care.

Not insane for me. Although, I cannot say I am sacrificing the rest of my life.

I lived a life already that is rich in experience. I have been to the top of the Jungfrau, stayed in the Hotel du Cap, walked on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, had lunch at the Polo club, rubbed elbows with movie stars at the Ginger Man, been back stage at a Robert Plant concert, Super Bowl, Final Four, the Masters, World Series, you name it.

Those were fun experiences. But not nearly as important as all the wonderful caring, talented, successful people I have met during my life.

I have done things that are hard to imagine, like the time I "cut" school for two weeks in second grade before I got caught. I had a teacher in tenth grade tell me "I was going to Hell".

I could go on for hours and tell you about the big wonderful "cartoon" that has been my life.

Here is something everyone should understand. It is my belief that my life is only half over. There is a long way to go.

Let me tell you, my mother Dotty, with one exception is made of steel. I have been told all my life I look like her, and I am like her. This explains in part why I believe I am going to live to be 120 years old. If I'm wrong, I'll continue to live each day one at a time. If I am right, I'll look back on my experience as an Alzheimers caregiver as if it were a delicious slice of my life. Not all of my life.

People think I have no life. Sure, I can't get involved with a woman because I can only make a commitment a minute at a time. Like I tell anyone who asks, how long do you think you will doing this? My answer? At least one more day.

I have no regret about that. I chose my current life. And while I had no idea what it would be like, or what would happen, I made it like it is today. Joy, not burden.

My Life is Rich in Spirit.

It is okay by me if you believe me, or if you don't believe me.

People tell me over and over they couldn't do what I am doing. I'll let you in on a little secret,

There are people all over the World doing exactly what I am doing right this minute. Millions of them.

It must be a secret.

Here is something I know for certain.

The typical Alzheimer's caregiver is searching for "tools". The tools they are looking for will help them to accomplish their own mission. What is the mission they are on?

They want to bring to the person living with Alzheimer's the highest quality of life possible.

As I write this millions are searching for the tools.

When they come here, to the ARR, I do my best to hand them the "key". The key to what? The key that opens the door to Alzheimer's World.

Most of them are already looking for the "key" long before they come to this place.

By the way, the entrance to Alzheimer's World is only one big step to the left. In Alzheimer's World all the behaviors that can drive you crazy are the normal. The expected. All you have to do is look at the person living with Alzheimer's from their own perspective. They see what they see, they say what they say, they do what they do. They are already in the World waiting for you to come in. Joy, not burden.

I am not really that different from any other Alzheimer's caregiver. Sure, I had a life experience that in the oddest of ways prepared me to care. But every Alzheimer's caregiver is made of flesh and blood just like me. Just like me.

Via the ARR, I managed to plug into the positive spirit of Alzheimer's caregivers all over the world. I think we plug into each other.

This is why I can say, without doubt

I have a life that is now rich in spirit.

You can ask me any questions you like based on Jane's article. Or, any question you like. Use the Add New Comment box below.

I'll close by saying, there is life after Alzheimer's caregiving. For me that will be another chapter in my life, another new beginning.

This is not the first time I reinvented myself, and it won't the last. Just you wait and see.

More Insight and Advice for Caregivers      
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 3,261 articles with more than 402,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room