Nov 10, 2013

What If Alzheimer’s Had Never Come into My Life? Marie Marley

In the long run, and since it did happen, I now realize the experience has turned out to be one that has enriched my life tremendously.

By Marie Marley
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

What If Alzheimer’s Had Never Come into My Life?

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*Marie Marley, PhD, is the award award winning author of, Come Back Early Today: A Story of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy. You can visit Marie’s website which has a wealth of advice for Alzheimer’s caregivers at ComeBackEarlyToday.
This question has been addressed by others here on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room lately. I’d like to add my two cents worth.

If I’d never been an Alzheimer’s caregiver, my life now would be totally different. I’m not sure what I would be doing but I can certainly tell you what I would not be doing.

For the last seven years – since Ed passed away – I have devoted my entire life to activities involving Alzheimer’s caregiving.

I wrote a book about my experience as a caregiver and I blog on that topic right here on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room and on the Huffington Post.

Plus, I have a website where I blog and produce a monthly newsletter targeted to helping caregivers.

My fierce devotion to these activities is evidenced by the fact that I recently took an early retirement from my full-time job so I could devote all of my time to this work.

In addition I have started doing public speaking about caregiving - both locally and state-wide.

I have spoken to several Alzheimer’s support groups as well as to a large group of nursing home Activity Directors. Their warm receptions to my talks are indeed personally rewarding.

I’m also slated to be the keynote speaker at the Central-Western Kansas Alzheimer’s Association annual meeting the week after next.

Finally, I volunteer once a week to visit some ladies with Alzheimer’s (at a local memory care facility) who don’t have many visitors.

I had always heard that doing this type of volunteer work is very rewarding. I didn’t believe that and at first was concerned that it would be depressing. But it’s anything but depressing. What people say is true. I receive so much more than I give.

Had I not been an Alzheimer’s caregiver I wouldn’t be doing any of these activities. And honestly, I have no earthly idea what I would be doing. I can’t even imagine my life without Alzheimer’s having been in it.

Yes, it was very difficult at the time – often very difficult - for the entire seven years. At the time I would have given anything not to be in that position.

Of course, I never would have wanted Ed to have Alzheimer’s. I never would have wished that fate for anyone.

But in the long run and since it did happen I realize the experience has turned out to be one that has enriched my life tremendously.


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