DEMENTIA STORIES

         These photos were all taken at Woods, Hillcrest nursing
 home  where she spent her last eight months.

      After this dementia stuff hit us, I became somewhat attached
to a website called  www.thealzheimerspouse.com  where
caregivers like myself  would share experiences and support 
each other. It was there that I learned to put my thoughts into 
written words, which was something quite new for me.  At the 
time it was very helpful to me and I still feel a closeness to that
caring group. Most of these stories are  stuff I shared on that website. 

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                 FIRST BLOG                         Sept.20,2011

            Stone walls do not a prison make. nor iron bars a cage;
           Minds innocent and quiet take that for an hermitage;
          If I have freedom in my love, and in my soul am free,
           Angels alone that soar above enjoy such liberty.
                            Richard Lovelace 1618-1657

      I've enjoyed reading messages on this site for about a year and
 have never posted anything because I don't know if I have
 anything of value to offer. I'm 90 year old caregiver for my 85
 year old dear wife who was diagnosed with vascular dementia
 four years ago. I think if my dear wife was judged by alzheimers
stages, she would be at about middle stage 6. We have been
 through most of the bad experiences mentioned in these
 messages and I am continually amazed a tthe similarity. I get
 the idea that some of the caregivers here consider themselves
prisoners of this terrible disease. The guy who wrote this poem
 was himself prisoner but he never considered himself as such.
 He wrote a wealth of beautiful poems while enjoying his time
 in prison and if you read his works you would agree.
He was a happy guy !
      I'm asking myself. Can I be a happy guy? ....I'm trying... After
 66 years of marriage, my Helen and I have lived life to the fullest.
 We did it all....Family, friends, fun....and now, memories; and
 none of that can be taken away from us by some dumb disease
Actually, we have a lot to be happy about! I did not choose to be
 a caregiver. I was chosen to be a caregiver....Why?.... I like to
 think I was chosen because I posses all the qualities to be an
 excellent caregiver. And with help from family and friends,
 I think I have done just that. I have accepted the challenge.
I have learned a lot. I can still make mistakes but I can forgive
myself.  I feel good about myself. What other useful purpose
 could I serve at this stage of my life?
      I think attitude is so essential to happiness; and after all,
 happiness is the greatest gift that life has to offer. We cannot
 control many of the problems that we face in our lives but
 we can control our attitude.

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           MY  PRESENT  SITUATION                Oct.10,2011

    About 5 years ago, my dear wife, Helen, started having memory
 problems. In April,2008, An MRI scan showed evidence of
 numerous small strokes. She was diagnosed with vascular
 dementia and put on aricept 10mg. which she still takes. During
 the next year, her memory continued to deteriorate, had a small
 accident and quit driving, lost the ability to operate appliances
 and needed help with almost everything. ....
      In early 2009 I quit work so I could be with her full time.
 I have two daughters living nearby who are a big help. As her
 memory and cognition worsens, I am learning more about
 dementia and how to deal with it. ....So, right now she is
continent, but needs help finding the bathroom and toilet. She
 has had some accidents when I'm not paying attention as I
 should. I'm still learning. I must use extreme patience sometimes,
 to help her get dressed and undressed, to get her into the shower,
 to get her to take her pills, to get her to the doctor etc.
 Sometimes she is uncooperative and aggressive. Tried zyprexa
 (made it worse) Tried seroquel, even as little as 12.5mg. (put
 her to sleep). So what do I do for uncooperation and aggression? 
Back off, wait, try again. She has the usual speech problems. 
The usual hallucinations and suspicions. The usual pacing and
 roaming. The usual bad things to say about her caregiver. The
 usual hiding things in unusual places. The usual shadowing.
 The usual wanting to go home when already home. She turns
on water faucets and lights all over the house and never turns
 anything off. ....
       Now for the good stuff. She can feed herself and will say
 "Thank you honey" when I put food in front of her. She is
 friendly in bed. She loves a good hug..... from anybody. She can
 comb her hair and apply lipstick. She is strong physically and
 aside from the dementia is in good health. She doesn't really look
 like she's 85 years old. She loves to hold our little dog. She loves
to go for a ride in the car. The uncoperation and aggression
 problem is getting better. I don't know if she's going through the 
 stages or if I am learning how to deal with it better. ....
     Last evening, at the kitchen sink, I was filling the doggie dish
 with dry dog food. I turned my back for an instant and heard
 a dry crunching sound. I turned around and saw that my dear
 Helen was  eating the dog food right out of the doggie dish.
 I yelled at her and  told her and told her and told  her and after
 she finally realized  what she was doing, she  laughed and said
 "it isn't all that bad". So naturally had to  try it myself....yuck. ....
      I think that's where I am right now in my care-giving. With
 nothing else to do, "it isn't all that bad".

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          LETTER  TO  MY  LIONS  CLUB  BUDDIES           Nov.3,2011

        I had been a member of Pomona Breakfast Lions Club for 53
 years but because of the dementia journey I had to write this letter.   

                     To my LION friends from George       
       I've been thinking that I should write this little note to all of
 youto explain the unusual situation that I find myself in. 

      Maybe some of you are like me. I never knew what dementia was until
Helen was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia about four years ago. I have since
learned a lot about it. The internet is loaded with caregivers blogs and 
information about it. I don't want to go into all the details about the 
disease, but at the stage Helen is in, she requires full time care and I do
not want to put her into a nursing home. I've investigated and visited 
several of them and just can't bring myself to do that to her.
    So, I'm her full time caregiver. Until now, I've been able to attend the 
meetings because she would be sleeping, but I've found that I can't do that
anymore. When I got home from club last Friday, I found her up, and the house 
in a terrible mess, (she is fully incontinent) I don't care about the mess,
but she could get into something dangerous. I hate to say it, but at this stage 
I cannot leave her alone anymore.
    The overall situation really isn't all that bad. I have two daughters 
living nearby who help, and VNA Hospice has admitted us into their program.
I've met a group of wonderful friends at  www.thealzheimerspouse.com  who are
all caregivers to dementia spouses, and we share our stories and offer support.
I am hoping the situation will change and I'll be able to get back with the  
club. One never knows what tomorrow will bring. The good part of this is that
you guys won't have to listen to any more sour notes on the trumpet.

                     Your Lion Friend George.........  

Sept.12,2012......Of course I'm back with the club, now that Dear Helen has left me. 

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                  GRIEVING

     I'm trying to figure out exactly what we are doing here. I feel
 like I'm deeply involved in this discussion even though I haven't
 posted anything. I spent the last two hours rereading this second
 page and I can't seem to get it out of my mind.
       As wolf has stated, it's all about the situation we are left in
 after our care-giving days are done. After all the bad times we've
 been through as caregivers it's so difficult to forget about them
 and move on.  It seems as though we are continually 
 remembering, analyzing and  reliving these bad times over and
 over again. They are so much a part of us that we can't forget
 them.  I think i's called grieving.
      We grieve over the loss of our life's partner because of an
 accident or cancer but in our particular case, we have been
 grieving for years over our loss, since the diagnosis was made,
 and when death actually comes,  it's a blessing for both of us.
So why am I still grieving after my Dear Helen was diagnosed
 seven years ago and completely gone for almost three years? 
      I think that the answer may be that I'm not grieving for the
 loss of my dear Helen,  but that I'm grieving for the loss of the
 happy life I once lived.  If I can accept this as the truth, I'm
 sure that it will be much easier for me quit grieving altogether.
Because the happy life I've been grieving over can be replaced
  by another happy life. So all I have to do is figure out how to
 do it, and I think I've done just that.
     All I have to do to be Happy is to try to make someone else
 happy and I'm happy because I'm perfectly free to do that.
 There are so many ways to make others happy.  Everyone here
 has contributed to my happiness by just sharing their stories on
this site. and I can do the same. Another secret I have learned is
that I have to keep myself busy.  And with my computer and
 the internet I can easily do that.
     These are just thoughts from poor GeorgieBoy's head.

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                  POOP STORY                                                    Nov.12,2011

         I've been reading the posts about poop, thinking my time for
 this may be coming soon. Well, it happened sooner than I
 expected, and worse than I expected. So naturally I have to tell
 you all about it, and just possibly some of you can avoid it.
      Since my Dear Helen never flushes the toilet, I'm aware of how
 often she does number-2 (I prefer to call it number-2), which is
 usually every 2nd day, sometimes, every 3rd day....The longer
 between, the more there is. We've had a few accidents with this
 but nothing really bad. I had the depends ready but had never
 used them.
     Well, today was the 3rd day and I was expecting it. When we
 went to bed last night the depends idea crossed my mind but
 since she had never messed up the bed and if she starts to get out
 of the bed, I always wake up and guide her to the bathroom and
 help her to the toilet... This morning, I got up and went to the 
bathroom myself and when I went back to the bedroom, she was
 not there. I knew immediately that I had made a big mistake.
 I went into the hallway and there it was....A trail of number-2 all
 the way down the hallway into the family room, and footprints
 through the family room into the kitchen....Puddles of number-1
 through the kitchen into the service porch where she was
 standing in a puddle and looking very pitiful and confused. 
I felt so sorry for her and turned my attention to comforting her.
 Her legs and feet were a mess. (I should say that we were both
 nude cause that's the way we always slept) I got her into a nearby
 bathroom and cleaned her up the best I could, then tried to get
 her to sit down somewhere out of the way so I could clean up the
mess on the floor. This was difficult. She acted like she wanted to
 help me.
      After scraping up the number-2 off the berber carpet and
 scrubbing the spots with hot soapy water and laying down
 newspaper on the linoleum to soak up the number-1, I was quite
 proud of myself. Within one hour and fourty-five minutes
everything was back to normal, but a big surprise was yet to come.
      I sat down with my dear for a little rest, then proceeded to
 prepare breakfast. When I opened the refrigerator I was shocked
 to see a huge glob of number-2 in the bowl of sliced peaches.....
 What can I say ?....I think she was just trying to help clean up the
 mess while I was busy and not paying attention to her. I have to
 blame myself for this whole episode. I've learned so much from
 this site, but I can still make big mistakes...
     To look at the good side of something like this, I will probably
 not let it happen again, and if it does, I will be able to deal with
 it better. Maybe an hour and thirty minutes ??
   I have to add a little to this story.  On the alzheimersspouse.com, 
We always have a POOP QUEEN or KING, as the case may be. 
The way it works is somebody will nominate you, and three
 others have to agree and you get to keep the title until someone
 else submits a better poop story. I was the POOP KING for three
days.....YIPPIE !

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                      THE  OTHER  GEORGE                             Dec.11,2011

       Memories of the really bad times, seem to be so far in the past, and so
unreal, it's like a bad dream, that never really happened. I have the crazy
notion that my life has been enriched by it all. I have to admit that it's
been a learning experience.
    I'd like to share a memory from the worst times. She was in the stage of
partial incontinence, where I had to dress her, bathe her, ect. She
recognized me as two different Georges. Sometimes I was the Real George and
sometimes I was the Other George. In the evenings we would sit on the sofa
holding hands, watching the TV, and she would ask me things like "What is
your name?" and I would tell her "My name is George". Then she would say
"You're not George" and I would tell her "I'm the other George" and that
would satisfy her. Then sometimes she would ask "Where's George?", and I
would say "They called him and he went down to FDS".(FDS was the place he
used to work) Sometimes she would ask "Are you married? Do you have a
family? Do you have a car? How did you get into this house?" and I would
always give her an appropriate answer and she would be content. With me
playing the part of the Other George, we could spend a fairly nice evening
together.
    When we were playing around in bed at night, she would say things like
"I'm not supposed to be sleeping with you". and "What if George finds out
about us?" And I would tell her "George won't care, he just wants you to be
happy" And sometimes she would tell me about fun things she and George did
together. Other times, she would tell the other George that George was mean
to her.
    At times, she would be very hostile and I would have to use force to
bathe her, to get her dressed, to get her to sit down and eat, or to get
her to sit on the toilet and at those times, I was the Real George.
Through it all, if I was trying to get her to do something, I was the
real George, the mean George, but if things were going smoothly, I was
always the other George.
    For her last eight months, I couldn't care for her at home anymore and I
had to place her in Hillcrest, Woods. A long term care nursing home. And
though I visited her for three hours every day and would hold her hand
and talk to her, I was still the other George. I think she enjoyed my visits
but she also enjoyed being close to other men. Either other clients or the
staff that worked there.
    At the stage she was in, there was not much for her to be happy about,
and when as she sat in her wheelchair in the hallway and would reach out to
the janitor as he was walking by, and he would stop and talk to her and
give her a little hug, I could see happiness in her face and it made me
happy also. No matter what the situation, I still loved her and slightest smile
on her face meant the world to me.
    I.ve learned that for a dementia caregiver and spouse, Happiness is very
difficult to find........I wholeheartedly took what I could get.

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                    MY  SITUATION  UPDATE                                     Jan.10.2012

   About six months ago, when I couldn't get my Dear Helen to visit our primary
care doctor any more, the doctor sent an RN (Bess) to our home to check on her.
Bess came twice and made suggestions (pick up the throw rugs. Install grab bars
in the shower. etc. and said to call her for further assistance.)
   In Oct. I had been having increasing problems with Helen's aggression and
un-co-operation. So on Oct.24th I gave Bess a call and explained my situation and
asked for advice. She told me she would get back to me. I never heard from her
again, but within one hour I got a call from VNA Hospice saying they wanted to
come to the house for an evaluation. The evaluation was completed about 4pm
that afternoon and at 8pm that evening, they came to our house again, and had
a bunch of papers for me to sign. Praise The Lord.....We were on hospice care...
and all in one day...and all because of one phone call.
   The next day we were visited by our case manager nurse, our social adviser,
our VNA doctor and they also delivered a bunch of medical supplies. To make a
long story short, VNA Hospice kind of took over. An RN would come twice a week
to evaluate Helen. An aid would come twice a week and give her a bath. If no BM
in three days, I would call and a nurse would come and give her a suppository.
The doctor would come if needed. They sent a shower chair, a flexible shower
attachment, a wheelchair, depends, medications ect. and best of all, I had a hot
line number to call 24\7 if needed. I was still her primary caregiver and I still had
to get her in and out of bed, clothe her, feed her, and since she was getting more
incontinent, I had the depends to change, and messes to clean up. To sum it up,
the hospice service helped me a lot. They took a load off my mind and a load off
my expenses. I think Medicare pays for everything.
   Now if anybody remembers, I'm 90 yrs old and not all that strong physically and
I've had some harrowing times forcing my Helen up or down when she was really
fighting me. A few minor scratches and bruises, but I had to think about what
could happen. Also, my kids were worried about the situation. Of course I've been
looking around at nursing homes in our area, and pretty much decided that when
the time came I would choose Hillcrest Woods. ( I think I should explain that we
live in a little town about 30 miles east of Los Angles called La Verne, and Hillcrest
is a quite large retirement community run by the Church of the Bretheren in La Verne.
Woods is a 79 bed nursing home and a part of Hillcrest, serving mostly dementia
patients. Hillcrest Woods is only a ten minute drive from our house and I have two
sisters living in the Hillcrest community.
   So, now all I have to do is make up my mind. After reading here about other
caregivers facing the same decision, I never imagined that it would be a problem
for me, but I was wrong. Big time wrong. I was lying awake at night wondering
what it would be like if she was not next to me. What would it be like if I woke in
the morning and she was not there? Strangely, I never thought about what it would
be like for her. I was only thinking of myself. Then one day my sister called. She
is 91 yrs old. Her husband died about five years ago and she's been living alone in
what seems like an almost empty house. We talked about her experience and she
told me 'George, it just takes time'. I think she's right.
   On Jan.6, after making the admissions arrangements, with the help of my two
daughters, we got Dear Helen loaded into the car and drove her down there. As I
already knew, you couldn't ask for a nicer place. She is still under hospice care.
 As for me, I am having an easy time of it right now. I just have to get used to the
new routine,  I spend two hours with her every morning and two hours every evening.
She does not even realize that anything has changed. She can still smile and seems
to be content most of the time. They have adjusted her medication (seroquel, I think
and she seems much calmer being alone.  She still does not recognize me as her
husband, Doesn't even know what a husband is. I'm just a guy who comes and
goes and brings her some fruit , holds her hand and talks to her.  Photo was taken
after she was there about one week.

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            A  SAD  STORY                                                       Jan.12,2012     

     I have just moved my Dear Helen into a nursing home. I'm slowly getting
adjusted to living alone. It's just me and the dog.  I want to tell you a little story
about what happened to me this morning as I visited the nursing home.
    It's quite sad and I just can't get it out of my mind. The NH (nursing home)
has 79 patients. All alzheimers or dementia at different stages. The routine there
is to get every patient up and dressed and into a wheelchair every morning by
around 9:30. Then they are taken to  either an activity room where some of them
will participate in exercises, games, music, or they will be taken  to an area
called the nurses station, which is the center for everything, and they can be
watched over by the  staff. 
      I go to visit several hours every day around noon and I just sit and hold her
hand and talk to her and help  her eat her lunch. Helen is at the stage where she
really doesn't know what's going on, but this story's not about her. So....as I was
sitting next to her this morning at the nurses station a nurses aid brought a very
frail little elderly lady to the station and wheeled her chair right next to me. I could
not help but hear the  conversation between the lady and the aid. The aid was
saying "Don't worry honey. He will find you. He will be coming right through that
hallway", and the frail little lady was saying in a weak voice " Are you sure? Are you
 sure he will see me?"  As I sat next to her for the next two hours that little lady
never took her eyes off that hallway. Several times as a staff  member would walk
by she would ask for reassurance, "Are you sure he will find me when he   comes?".
...The staff, even people like the janitor would all gently talk to her and reassure her.
"Your husband  will see you sitting here when he comes through that hallway". I
tried to talk to her. Maybe I could ease her mind  but she was not interested in
anything except that hallway. 
     To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the
world........        Where is the one person for this little lady ?

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                 DEAR  HELEN  IS  FREE                    Sept.4,2012

     Because of my own problem of intestinal hemorrhaging I had to spend four
days in the hospital and hadn't visited Dear Helen for almost a week......Doctor
told me to stay home and rest until I fully recovered from the anemia. 
    But yesterday when I received a telephone message from the nursing home and
they said my Dear Helen was near the end. I went there anyway. She was lying in
bed as usual with the head of the bed slightly raised. She was taking short breaths.
Oxygen tubes were attached. My daughter was sitting there holding her hand so
I took my place on her other side and held her as best I could.
    A few nurses and aids were just standing there.  They greeted me when I arrived,
but there was very little conversation. After about ten minutes, one of the nurses
said "She's taking her last breath right now". I asked her how she knew and she
said she had seen it before.
     They summoned the chief RN who came and listened to her heart with a stethoscope.
Then looked at her watch and said "She has passed... at two-thirty" We all hugged
each other, and there were some tears. Even though I was long prepared for this,
it was somehow different. I completely lost my voice. I couldn't say a word. Other
staff members were coming in to console my daughter and me, and after a while
the chief RN asked if I wanted her to call the mortuary. Again, I couldn't talk....
But they did call the mortuary and they said they would pick her up within an hour.
     My daughter and I left. My other daughter came from about fifty miles, and that
evening, the three of us spent most of our time answering the phone and making
calls, and actually had a rather normal evening. The strangest thing was my voice.
If I tried to talk about Dear Helen, I had no voice, or just a whisper.......It's OK today
......... So...That's my story.......It really wasn't so bad.
    But now I have this question on my mind. Just think about it......After visiting
my Dear Helen every day for eight months,  I'm not able to visit for almost a week
but in her last moments,  she is waiting for me and passes  ten minutes after I arrive.
     

             

The very last photo of dear Hele ....... a week before the end.

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                   THANKSGIVING        

    To my friends on thealzheimerspouse  website. This discussion reminds me of
the way we used to do it in the good old days. As we sat around the family dinner
table, each of us would take our turn, telling what we were most thankful for.
    So now It's my turn........Of course I am thankful for this site and all the loving
friends here, but I am mostly thankful that my caregiving days are finally over.
My Dear Helen is in a better place and so am I.
    I am also thankful for my friends, my family and just ordinary people. It seems
like everyone wants to take care of me. People in general are so kind, caring and 
thoughtful. And I believe that throughout the world, we are all the same.
    I also am thankful for the internet. I believe that it will eventually bring us all
together and that war will be a thing of the past.    

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                 MY  FRIEND  JIM'S  TRAGEDY             

   Yesterday was Mayday and it turned out to be a very tragic day for a good
friend who only lives twenty miles from me and It's the number one thing on my
mind right now. So I have to tell You about it. Jim Crabtree, an old timer in the
group who's wife, Rita, is in alzheimers late stage six posted a terrible story that
none of us could believe. 
   As usual, Jim dropped Rita off at his folks house on his way to work. Dad would
care for her during the day, since she could not be left alone. I should mention
that Jim's mother is also a dementia invalid with some bone disease and is on
continual morphine for pain, which meant that Jim's dad was caring for both his
wife and his daughter in law. and on  top of all that, dad was starting to show signs
of alzheimers himself, and from experience, he was fully aware of what that meant. 
   Around noon one of Jim's coworkers mentioned to Jim that he had heard on the
radio news that there had been a murder, suicide in Hacienda Heights and that
three people were dead. Poor Jim. Suspecting the worst, he rushed over there and
found that his dad had shot both the ladies and then turned the gun on himself. 
   In spite of losing the three most dear ones in his life. Jim found the strength
and courage to be interviewed at the scene by KTLA, TV, because he said he
wanted to raise awareness for Alzheimers disease. I watched the ten minute video
on KTLA's website taken at the scene. Jim did very well explaining the horror of
alzheimers and dementia, and that his dad could not be blamed for doing what he did.
   I can't forget about this easily, but maybe I can look at it this way....Four people 
have gained freedom from a miserable life caused by a horrible disease.....

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                      MY  PERSONAL  GOD  

    Joan,  As I read your story, I think to myself, it's so sad but there's nothing

I can do about it. What can I offer to ease your pain? I've read many sad
stories here and always passed over posting a comment for the same reason.
But just maybe.....Maybe I do have something to offer. Many friends here
offer sympathy  and prayers, which can be very comforting,
and many offer their advice based on their own experience in a similar
situation. It helps when you feel you are not alone.
    Joan, I will not offer you any advice, but I will offer you my experience.
Throughout my life, I have faced some difficult times, especially the
last eight year dementia experience. However during the ninty-one years of
it, I can't ever remember a time when I was really depressed. I had a place
to turn to. Someone to talk it over with and no matter what the situation,
he would always tell me what to do. Even though at times I displeased him,
he never deserted me. He was always there.
    You can call him my conscience. The little voice inside my head. My personal
god, or whatever. He tells me what is right and what is wrong. He gives me
my marching orders. To him and him alone I owe my allegiance. He's the one
who took me to this site and told me to contribute this post. Everything I
do is under his direction and when I do good he gives me the greatest gift of
all.... Happiness..... Now Joan, I'm sorry but this is all I have to offer you.
It's not much but It's the best I can do. I hope it helps.....GeorgieBoy.....

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                      HAPPY  NEW  YEAR

       Since Joan started this discussion I've been continually reading the
comments and thinking about it and wondering if I have anything to contribute.
Joan has asked, "What is a happy new year for an Alzheimer spouse?
       Well.....I'm not an Alzheimer's spouse anymore, but I think I can answer
her question based on my passed experience. I notice from reading these
comments, that they are all about what we wish for, hope for. and even pray for,
And I can understand this because that's all we really have......... Hopes, Wishes,
nd Prayers.   And all of our hopes, wishes and prayers are asking for just one
thing which is  HAPPINESS.  So I can answer Joan's question in just this one word. 
        Now I know how difficult it would be for anyone in a completely down and
out situation to find happiness, but it has been done. I've seen it happen on this
website. Philosophers say it's all a matter of attitude.  Now I would like to offer
two poems that demonstrate how important attitude can be.
       The first one written by Richard Lovelace. He was a political prisoner under
the worst conditions for most of his life where he wrote many beautiful poems.
       The second poem is about someone who had everything.  .

             Someone who had nothing
   Prison walls do not a prison make,                
   Nor iron bars a cage;
   Minds innocent and quiet take
  That for an hermitage;
   If I have freedom in my love,
  And in my soul am free,
   Angels alone that soar above
  Enjoy such liberty.       
              Richard Lovelace 1618-1657     

           Someone who had everything
 Whenever Richard cory went downtown,
We people on the pavement looked at him.
He was a gentleman from sole to crown.
Clean favored and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed.
And he was always human when he talked,
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good morning," and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich - yes richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace.
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked and waited for the light.
And went withought the meat, and cursed the bread.
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
            By  Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935) 

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                            DEPRESSION

....The way I see it, depression is the same as being unhappy, and I've already
contributed a fairly long blog about happiness, so I won't get into that. I'll Just
call it depression. ....If I start to feel depressed, I re-live the good times. And the
way I do it is to drag out some old letters, old photo albums, an old diary, old audio
tapes, anything to look at or read that brings back the wonderful memories of the
good times we shared. And then, since there's no one else around, I tell the dog all
about it. And our little dog happens to be a very good listener. ....How can I be
depressed when I can fill my mind with such great memories?     

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                 THE  BRIGHT  SIDE

When I was going through this with my Dear Helen, I always tried to look at the
bright side. Many will say there is no bright side to this horrible journey but 
believe if you look hard enough you will find one. For me, during the worst times,
I gave myself credit and was proud of myself for the way I was handling the bad
situations. I would even sometimes brag to myself about how well I was doing.
I would keep thinking, this can't last forever, and that when it's over I will be much
stronger and wiser for having gone through such a trying experience. 

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                THE  MRI

    The doctor said that there was no test for alzheimers, so it was necessary to
give tests to rule out everything else. The first test he proscribed was an MRI.
The MRI showed signs of numerous TIA's (small strokes), which meant that she
had vascular dementia.
    I well remember the MRI. The machine looked very formidable and hostile.
it was like a huge doughnut, about 15 ft high and my Dear Helen was scared to
death of it. They gave her a shot of something to ease her mind and strapped her
onto a little platform which rolled on a track into the center of this big machine
and told her she must not move. They all left the room and watched through a
window. I sat there talking to Helen, trying to keep her calm and when they
turned the machine on the noise was deafening. This lasted about 40 seconds
and after it quit, Helen yelled real loud "Get me out-a here".
    As it turned out, she did remain motionless and they got a good scan but it
certainly was a harrowing experience for her, and me too. I was happy that we
only had to do this once.

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                   TAKE  ME  HOME

        For the last few years that I had my Dear Helen home with me, 
We went through this "going home" thing.  Sometimes almost
 every evening. I would have to take her for at least a one hour
 drive. A short drive never worked.
      Listening to her pleading to go home was so sad for me.
 What she really wanted was the home of her childhood with
 her daddy and mommy.
       I wrote a sad song about it. ------Maybe you can play it.

  

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                   VASCULAR  DEMENTIS

       When My dear Helen started showing signs of dementia.  our
doctor had me take her for what I think he called an MRI. It was a big
room with a huge machine and they strapped her onto a dolly that
was slid into this machine. They told her that she must remain
motionless while in the machine. Then they left the room and watched
through little windows while I stayed in the room to comfort her. The
machine came on with a loud roaring noise which lasted about five
seconds. Then she yelled "Get me out of this thing" Fortunately they
said that she did stay motionless and it was a successful test. A few
days later our doctor told us that the MRI showed she had suffered
numerous small strokes which meant she had vascular dementia and
there was no need for any more testing.   

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                  THE  PURSE             

          My Helen was well into dementia but was still continent.
 Her favorite purse was always a big deal to her and she would
 continually hide it. Sometimes it would be missing for a
 week before I would find it in a very unusual place.  She would
accuse me of steeling it, or of steeling her money out of it.
 I kept a few one dollar bills in her wallet so she could see that
 she did have some money, but I would have to show them to
 her cause she could never find them herself.
     One time, while shopping at Costco, she told me she needed
 to go to the bathroom, so I took her to the ladies rest room and
 waited for her. After she came out I noticed she did not have her
 purse, so I sent her back in to get it.  After about ten minutes
she came out and said she couldn't find it. I didn't quite Know
 what to do, but as we stood there talking about it a nice lady
 came out of the rest room and seemed to sense Helen's condition
 and asked if she could help us. I explained our problem
 to her and she went back into the rest room and promptly
 returned with the purse.
     Soon after this little incident. I had to quit taking her
 shopping with me. She was always trying to get away from me
 in the store and she was getting pretty good at it.

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                  THE  DIVORCE   STAGE

          At this stage, She was continent, but I would have to
 encourage her and help her find the bathroom. Help her with her
 shower. Help her feed herself, etc. I had to dress her but she
 could still apply make-up and comb her hair. Sometimes she
would not recognize me as her husband.
         During this stage, Helen would often try to get away and
 hide from me. She would hide in seldom used rooms and try to
 lock the door so I couldn’t get in. She would also try to lock me
 out of the house. She would sometimes get out of the house and
 hide in the garage, or the pool dressing room or a storage building
or anywhere she could find that was out of site from me. If she was
 gone for five minutes I would go looking for her. After locating her,
 I tried just waiting to see if she would come back on her own, but
 she never did.  She would hide for hours.  So I  would  take her
 little dog with me and together  we would go coax her back into
 the house. She was always very fond  of Ozzy and he was a big help.
 I learned to handle this fairly well, but the worst was yet to come.
        She would spend some time in the bathroom, putting on
 makeup and combing her hair and walk by me with her purse in
 hand and tell me, “I’m going out to get a divorce. Don’t try to
 stop me.” I tried numerous ways to stop her to no avail. She would
 walk out onto the sidewalk and up the street.  So the best that I
 could do, was wait until she was out of site, then  take Ozzy with
 me and follow her in my little Honda,  Keeping her in site but
 parking far enough away so that she would not notice me. She
 always walked slowly and would stop and talk to people who
were in their yards or out walking, and sometimes stop and go
 through her purse.
       She pulled this stunt about a dozen times and about half
 the times she would find her way home after a couple of hours
 and when she was almost home, I would go home ahead of her,
 and as she headed in from the sidewalk I would let Ozzy out so
 he could go greet her. At home again, she would  forget all
 about the divorce and it was just as if she had been out for a
 little walk.
      Now…..for the times that she did not find her way home  
After a couple of hours she would appear to be lost and as she
 would get further away, she would stop and just stand on the
 sidewalk looking hopeless and  confused…Then I would park
 my little Honda along side of her and get out and talk to her.
 She would seem to not know who I was and continue walking.
  But with Ozzy’s help, and  a half hour of intense coaxing, we
 would  get her into the little Honda.
      I think some of the people in the neighborhood where she
walked knew what was going on but once, I had to explain it
 to a friendly lady who came out of her house to see if she
 could be of help.  
     For Ozzy and me, it was just another stage in the sad
 dementia journey. 

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                  THE  GIFT  OF  LEARNING            

 ..At this stage of my life, I often look back upon it and wonder what I would be
doing now if I hadn't gone through that sad dementia trip. Did that ten year
experience change me? There's no doubt that I've changed considerably, but is
it just old age, or is it because of what I've gone through as a caregiver?....
This is my conclusion.
...It's been a great learning experience. I've learned so much that never would
have entered my mind otherwise. I've learned what things in life are of great value
.....Here is a few of them.
...After witnessing loved ones struggling so hard and painfully just to think, I've
learned to cherish that god given ability to be able to think. No matter what my
situation, I feel blessed  that I'm able to think.
...After many bad times with my Dear Helen, she taught me patience. I learned
how to wait. A very simple and valuable trait. I can accomplish so much if I just
patiently wait.
...After eight months visiting her every day in the long term care home, and
becoming close to others there, I learned the value of a few kind words and a
gentle touch. I never dreamed it would do so much for myself and the others.
Everywhere I go, I find something friendly to say to whomever.
...I learned that to the world, you may be just one person, but to just one person
you may be the world.
...After finding this website and browsing here for a long time, I got up the courage
to join the discussions. I learned the value of communicating with others, and
putting all my problems out there. It was so comforting just to know that someone
cared. I had never dreamed that I could write anything. Somehow, I learned to
enjoy writing and even made a little website of my own so I'd have a place to put
my stuff. It never would have happened without the dementia trip.
...After realizing what I've been through, I consider myself a survivor, and have
a feeling of self-worth, and that people like me.
                       What greater gifts could an old man ask for?

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             HAPPY  CAREGIVER

.    As I look back on the the dementia journey that my Dear Helen and I went
through, I sometimes ask myself this question,  If I could choose between being
the caregiver for my Dear Helen or being the one with the dementia, and having
her as my caregiver, which would I choose ? 
    I really don't know what it was like for her during that journey but I'll never
forget what I went through as caregiver.
    So for me, there is no doubt about my choice. I loved her so much, I would
never have wanted her to go through what I went through.
    I would a thousand times rather be the caregiver....And I was....So can I be
happy about that ?... Yes...One more reason to be happy.

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                NINTEY-TWO  TODAY                                           Oct.18,2013

      It sure has taken a long time, but I got to be ninety-two years old today. I'm
wondering if I'm the oldest, old man here........... Maybe, Ol Don ?
    When I first came to this site, because of my age, I felt like a stranger. But all
of you changed my mind about that. You convinced me that in spite of my age,
I was one of you and somehow, I really like being one of you. Even though I feel
that I don't have much to contribute because my dementia trip was an easy one
when compared to others on this site.
    Helen was diagnosed in April 2008 with vascular dementia and left me in Sept. 2012.
A rather short trip of four and a half years. And it was only the last two years that
were really bad. I usually feel that others are more qualified to offer suggestions, but
right now I feel like I do have something to say to those of you like me, who's loved
ones have passed, and are having a hard time getting over the loss.
    Even with lots of family and friends, I felt loneliness for the first time in my life.
It was a terrible feeling, but it only lasted for a month because I stumbled on the
solution. I followed the suggestions on this site and found that if I kept myself busy,
doing something that I liked to do, I was never lonely. And I knew from my
experience with this site, that I liked writing stories about my Dear Helen. With 67
years of marriage, I had a lot of stories to tell, and I let them all out. Writing the
stories was like reliving them. I not only enjoyed writing them, but I enjoyed
reading them. I shared the dementia stories on this site but I wrote many other
stories and found a way to share them all with family and friends.  Writing stories
was my magic therapy to cure loneliness.
    I had noticed from looking at profiles here that some of you old timers on this
site have a blog spot or website of your own where you share stories and photos
of your loved ones and I've enjoyed reading them so much. And that gave me the
idea that maybe I should have a site of my own. So that's what happened. And
since I started that website, there's no way I could ever be lonely again.
    At first it was just two pages of stories about Dear Helen. Before and after dementia,
like a tribute to her memory. But as time went on I added some pages of other things
I was interested in such as some of my favorite photos and some music that I wrote
and some thoughts I chose to think.
    Overall, I have to say that building a website is great therapy.

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            MY  JOURNAL

....I've never kept a daily journal. It always seemed that each day is so much the
same as the next that there is nothing very interesting to write about. My dear
Helen kept one for the first year of our marriage and now that she's gone, I
so much enjoy reading what she wrote sixty-seven years ago about the happiest
days of our lives.
.....Actually, I never wrote anything until I bravely started communicating on this site. 
Since I'm living all alone now, I find that I really enjoy writing, and I'm having a
good time writing this.  It's like talking to someone. I mostly write about my Helen
and the things we  did together during our sixty-seven years and I've written so
much, I think I'm turning into a writing maniac.
.....I started a little website just so I'd have a place to put my stuff where I'd have
access to it and  family members could read and give me hell for some of it.  I've
never held anything back. I've nothing to loose and it's so much fun. I blame some
of you on this site for giving me the big head by telling me I write well.
.....Maybe it's because of my age, and  having not much else to do, but it's certainly
been great therapy for me. I can't imagine what my life would be like right now if I
had not gone through the sad dementia experience and stumbled upon this site and
become such a great writer.
..........As always.......Thank you all for being my friend........GeorgieBoy 

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                MEMORIES

Rudy.....Maybe I have something to offer you......
...You ask in what ways do we preserve the memory of our past loved ones.
It's interesting that you should ask that question because that's about all I've
done since she left me, one and a half years ago. When she was just 86 and I
was almost 91. Since then, I must have written over one-hundred stories about
my Helen and the things we did together. And not only stories, but since I play
around with music, I've made a bunch of not so great songs about her.
...I've always enjoyed playing around with music, and I learned to write stories by
communicating on this site, so with nothing else to do, it was just a natural result.
...Also, I've spent a lot of time going through all of our family photos,
(over 1600) that I had on a computer, old 8mm movies, old VCR tapes, and videos
from digital cameras, making slide shows and DVD videos featuring my dear Helen.
...In my mothers memorabilia, there are two sets of stories written by old men
who's wives preceded them in death. My son-in-law's dad did the same thing, as
did one of my uncles, so I think it's just what old men do. Younger men in their 60's,
70's, and early 80's can have other interests.
...Today we old men are fortunate that we don't have to save our stuff as typewritten
pages and printed photos or tapes to lay around and gather dust. We can just save
them all on a hard drive. In fact I created a website just for a place to put my stuff
where family and friends can view it and I can
enjoy rereading it just as if it all happened to someone else.
...I'm not a social hermit. I still belong to a Lions Club and have many friends and
relatives all wanting to take care of me. But what I most like to do is write the stories,
and assemble the slide-shows, and the videos, because in doing so I relive the
memories that go with them.
....................GeorgieBoy

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                       MY  BATHTUB  TRIP

    It was during the time when Helen would sometimes refuse to do anything that
I wanted her to do.
    On this particular occasion, I had her in the bathroom and was trying to get
her to sit down on the toilet. She was fighting me and she was still quite strong.
We had been thru this a few times before and I thought I knew how to force her to
sit down, but this time in the midst of our struggle she gave me a huge push that
sent me stumbling backwards into the bathtub.
    As you can imagine, I lit hard on my butt with my legs on the floor over the
edge of the tub. I bumped my head on the tiled wall of the tub but that was a
minor bruise compared to the pain in my rear end.
   So now we have a 90 year old guy sitting in a bathtub with his legs over the
side wondering "how the hell am I gonna get out of this thing?" And his wife is
standing there doing what she should have been doing sitting on the toilet.
   I knew that the normal way to get up off the floor is to roll over onto my
hands and knees, but how can I do that in a bathtub when I can't even get my
legs in the tub with me?
    Well I can't explain how I did it, but after about 20 minutes of intense effort
I managed it. I was so exhausted from the struggle that I had to sit and rest
awhile before I could attend to my Dear Helen. Amazingly, she did show some
sympathy for me during all this and even acted like she wanted to help me.
   Looking back on it, I can see the humor. But it really started me thinking
about whether I can continue to care for her at home.
   I would like to warn all my caregiving friends. STAY OUT OF THE BATHTUB
UNLESS YOU CAN STEP INTO IT WITH BOTH FEET...........GeorgieBoy  

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                    ... HAPPINESS                                        8/11/2015

     WWolf,  Once again you have confirmed the age old truth that the way to
make ourselves happy is to make someone else happy. It certainly works for me
every time.
     Living alone like we do, can sometimes be very tiring and boring and not
much fun. When I'm lying in bed each morning before starting my day, I'm
thinking.........What can I do today to ease the pain of being alone without
my dear Helen?........The only answer I can think of is to try to bring some
happiness to someone else.
     Since I can't get around much anymore, my choices are limited, But if I put
my mind to it, I can always think of something. It may be just a short visit to
someone bedridden or an email, or a phone call or a kind word to a stranger or
 even a little gift for my friendly cat.
     You can do much more Wolf. Your writings are an inspiration. I still love to
read your very first story on this page. It's like an umbrella in the rain.
                                     GeorgieBoy

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               IN  THE  GOOD  OLD  DAYS

     In the good old days, when Helen and I were in our sixties we used to go
camping in our RV with a group of friends. I remember one time in
particular. We were gathered around the campfire relaxing and enjoying
the beautiful evening. Not much conversation so Max Pence came up with
an idea. He suggested that each of us tell the story of when we first
realized that the one who later became our life long partner cared for us.
     Max started it off, telling about the time he first realized that Glenis
cared for him as much as he cared for her. Then each of us in the circle
told our stories and what wonderful love stories they were. Sometimes
very emotional, especially when my Helen told her story. After hearing
these very personal stories it seemed like our group shared a closeness as
never before.
    Thinking about it, I believe it was the happiest time in my life when I
realized that Helen loved me as much as I loved her. I made a story about
it ........ "The Happiest Time Of My Life" and put it on my website.
      Here at thealzheimerspous.com  we have all suffered so much and we come
here to share our misery. Why don't we share the happiest time of our life?
After reading the sad stories here I already feel very close to each of you
and I would love to hear your happy story.
      OK...I gave you my happy story. Now don't be bashful. I want to hear yours.

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              CONTENTMENT   To my alzspouse friends

.....Since you started this contentment topic three days ago, I've been following
the comments and thinking about contentment. Everyone here seems to agree
that contentment means satisfaction.
.....Of course, since my journey through this was so much easier than most of you,
I  can only speak for myself and what I went through, but I think that even during
the worst times, I was always content.  I was actually proud of myself for the way
I was handling each difficult challenge.
.....We cannot control what life throws at us, but we can control our attitude.
Now I've had a lot to say about attitude in other posts so I won't get on my
soap-box about that, but I do think that each of us should give ourselves a big
pat on the back  for caring enough to be a caregiver.
       Contentment is really not happiness, but if we are happy to be content,
Does that make us happy? ........Not really......We can only be content or
satisfied to be content....Happiness is something else.

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        EARLY  SIGNS  OF  DEMENTIA 

   .......Dear Friends, I thought of something to contribute that some of you may
relate to.
.......During the years preceding my Dear Helen's diagnosis of vascular dementia,
I was sometimes embarrassed by her unusual behavior and had no idea what
was going on with her.... Later.....after diagnosis, and after reading some of the
stories on this site, I not only came to understand it, but I expected it. 
......So here are five little ....."Before Diagnosis".....stories that I can never forget.
..... My doctor had sent me to see a specialist and my Dear Helen insisted on going 
with me. We waited about ten minutes for him in his office and when he came in he
introduced himself and shook both of our hands. He happened to be a rather small
oriental man and the first words that came out of Helen's mouth was, "Are you sure
you're a doctor?... you look like a little kid"..... Naturally I was embarrassed, but as it
turned out, it was no big deal to Dr. Woo. He just smiled and said "I AM... a little kid,
a thirty-two year old little kid".
...... Helen loved to dance, and since I was not very good at it, she loved to dance
with other guys. I remember one time at a Lions club social event when I was
dancing with Jean Popma, and Helen was having a good time dancing nearby with
Jim Else, I heard Jim exclaim. rather loud, "Oh my God", and Helen was laughing.
Other dancers also heard it and we all wondered what was going on.
......Later, I asked Helen what that was all about and she told me "Oh that was
nothing......Jim had his hand on my butt so I flexed my muscles for him".
......I recently came upon a little video that I think explains what Jim was feeling.
Our grandson was playing around with the video camera and got a  videot of Helen
showing her stuff ......… I put it on YouTube
..... Every Tuesday evening we would meet at Los Jaritos Mexican restaurant with a
group of friends from our Lions Club for a nice meal and social. We had been doing
this for years and were good friends with everyone there. One of the waiters, Aristeo,
was his name, was always quite friendly with Helen and he would sometimes sing to
her. This particular night he was singing "Bessame Mucho" to her and inserting the
word "Ajhora" into the song. One of our friends, Richard Gonzales, explained to
Helen that the words he was singing meant "Give me a kiss" and that “Ajhora” meant
"Right now" .......So Helen said OK and gave Aristeo a nice Kiss.... Then Richard said
"How about me?" so she gave him a kiss. Then all the guys at our table wanted one
so she went around the table and kissed each one. And then that wasn't the end of it.
Some fellow at a nearby table said "How about me", so of course she went over and
gave him a kiss. The only guy who didn't get a kiss was me.........I forgot to say "How
about me?"
.......When our son Barney was going through his divorce, Helen and I went with him
to the court proceedings to show our support. His wife's attorney, Mr. Tuckerman,
had found out that Barney had set up a checking account in Helen's name. He put
Helen on the witness stand and asked her, "Now Mrs. Streit. How big were those
checks you were writing?" Helen put her hands up with her fingers out to show the
size and said. "They were about like this"...... Well......Everyone had a good laugh,
even the judge, but Tuckerman was furious. He told Helen, "Now Mrs. Streit, this is
not a comedy show where we try to be funny. This is ...." Bang...Bang...Bang...went
the judge's gavel, and the judge said. "Mr. Tuckerman......I will not have anyone
intimidating a witness in my court".
.......So poor Mr. Tuckerman had to rephrase the question and Helen told him she
never looked at the amount. She just signed her name........
...... .Helen was not trying to be funny. She was serious......and I think a little frightened
with being called as a witness. 
     I never witnessed this. My Lions club buddies told me about it.
    At a recent social function, our wives were having a discussion about the lack of
sex in their marriages, and  Helen was telling them all about what Viagra could do. 
The wives could hardly believe what Helen was telling them and were saying  that
their husbands would think that Viagra was too wild and wicked,  but as wives,
they were very much interested in the idea. 
    I asked Helen about this and she told me that she didn't remember the exact
conversation, but it was just what wives talk about when there's no men around.

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                    TO  KATHERINE                               Nov.15,2015

     Katherine, Your story seems to have triggered some very similar, sad and
depressing stories from Elizabeth and Rona. 
     I can't say that I've gone through anything that bad, but during my care
giving days there were a few times that I just wanted to give up the battle
and run away. But those thoughts never entered my head when I was busy
doing something that I really needed to do.
     If I was doing anything at all that I thought was of some value to someone,
It gave me a feeling of self-worth and the depression was gone. So everything
I did was not only for my Dear Helen, but for myself'. And I could actually be
happy and proud of myself. It was only when I was sitting around doing
nothing that I became depressed.

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                      TO DR. HOLSTEIN                                     April 28,2011

             Concerning Helen Streit (Dementia)
                  At times, Helen shows all the typical mental symptoms such as
           confusion, hallucinations, depression, irritability (mainly at night).
           She cannot operate any appliances such as toaster, microwave,
           TV, wash machine, ect. She needs help getting dressed and showering.
                I need to be with her constantly.  She will become upset and angry
           if I am out of her sight for one minute (like going to the bathroom) I have 
           to get someone to be with her just so I can do a little yard work. She will
          sometimes wander around at night and hide from me in strange 
          places. She seems to be strong physically and at times she can laugh
          and have fun.
               Hallucinations seem to be the biggest problem. They are very real
          and troublesome to her, causing depression, irritability, and hostility.
               I am wondering if there is any medication that might alleviate some
          of these stressful symptoms.            Caregiver George Streit

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                  BEING  ALONE

....I've been following this thread as I do every thread and wondering if I have
anything of value to offer here. So here are my thoughts about being alone.
....Actually I really can't understand the problem, because in all my 94 years I've
never felt alone. Both Helen and I come from big loving families, but other than
relatives, we had so many friends, and this discussion got me started thinking
about where they all came from.
....First there were our church friends. We were not very religious in our later years
but we had fun RV'ing and camping with the Trinity Travelers. Some caregivers
here have mentioned the church as a wonderful source for friends
....Next, was the Lion's Club. I was a member for almost 60 years, and after many
years of social activities, conventions, fund raisers and such our families grew
very close. Our club always had a sunshine chairman who would keep track of
anyone ill or in need and even introverts never lacked for Lions friends. Service
clubs are a great source of friends. I don't think anyone on this site has ever
mentioned belonging to a service club.
....Next, are the friends I've met through my work. Our families did everything
together. And as an electrical contractor, I made friends with everyone I worked
for or worked with.
....Next, are our neighbors. Over the years, Helen and I treasured our neighborhood
friends and even now that I living here all alone, some of them keep bringing me
food and want to take care of me.
....Next were the friends I made at the long term care home where I had to place
Helen. They need me now and I try to visit them often.
....Then of course, I can't say enough about all of you wonderful friends on this site
who have helped me so much when I really needed a friend who knew where I
was coming from.  
....Now....I need to give credit to the most friendly person that I've ever known.....
  ..My dear wife Helen.  When we were visiting her home town.....No matter where
we went,  old high school friends, both guys and gals......Asians, Mexicans, Blacks.
Whites,  would all come up to greet her.  She taught me her secret of making friends.
No matter where she was or what the circumstances. she would always find
something to say to a stranger, which would start a conversation. 
....I could go on and on but I think I've said enough....I can understand being alone,
but I can't understand lack of friends. Naturally, at my age, most all my old friends
have died but I'm making new ones and having fun doing so.

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                    TO  MIM

       Dear Mim  .....I read your blogs and follow your life situation and then go
about my own daily routine but I can't quite get you out of my mind.  I keep
thinking that somewhere there's a wonderful, caring little lady with a loving
husband who needs help.
       I'm not a religious person but I do believe there's some higher power
that will respond to our prayers because I've experienced it myself, three
times in my life.......And I know that with all the prayer going your way, 
you and Dan are going to come out of this OK...... I just know it.
...........With Love........GeorgieBoy 

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            TO  JAN  K

       Jan ..... My dear Helen and I were once volunteer visitors at a nearby state
prison where we tried to help rehabilitate prisoners.  We met a prisoner's mother
who was in a situation far different than yours but she told a story that was much
the same as yours.
      She was totally devoted to her son throughout his life and the difficult situations
she faced while caring for him made her life miserable. She could never understand
why other family members seemed not to care and never offered to help.  Never
visiting him in prison and  didn't want to talk about him or hear about him.
      After years of this painful suffering she met another prisoner's mother who
was on the same lonely journey as she. They became well acquainted and would
share their very similar experiences. They then found other mothers at this same
prison and formed a little group of mothers and would meet often to talk about
what none of their family members ever wanted to talk about..
..... What a wonderful blessing for each of them.  

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                  TO  JOAN

        Dear Joan ........ Again, I'm sitting here debating whether I have anything
useful to say to you. Of course I've been following your journey, like everyone
else here and feel the emotional trauma you are experiencing.
       When I had to place my Dear Helen, It was not so bad for me because she
was farther along than your Sid, and didn't seem to realize that anything had
changed. My problem was my own feelings of loneliness.......Being without her
after 67 wonderful years. 
      I want to tell you what helped me the most, and I got the idea from your
website, in fact you wrote a fairly recent blog about it named "Going Away".   
I was spending too much time with nothing on my mind except the depression
and sadness of my situation. Naturally, I had to visit Dear Helen, and I seemed
to be drawn to this website, But I made up my mind to find something else that
was completely different that would consume me and take my mind off this bad stuff. 
       I decided I was going to try to understand Einstein's theory of relativity. A subject
which I had long been curious about and the computer was just the right tool for
helping me do that. I got so interested in that subject and so absorbed in it that I
would forget to eat and sometimes stay at the computer till the wee hours of the
night, learning and following where it led me. And even when I was not at the
computer, my mind would often be on the science stuff rather than Dear Helen
and my loneliness. When visiting her I would tell her all about Einstein's work.
And she would listen, believe it or not. 
       Joan, I think you are so absorbed in this website, and the caring for everyone
here, that you are stuck in a really bad situation. You are always apologizing for
not posting often or for not greeting newcomers to your site. Please, just take it
easy for your own well-being and for ours. If something bad happens to you, Sid
and all of us will suffer.   
       Get back to your computer games, Joan..... With a little effort, I'll bet you will
be able to compete with the experts. You have to find something to do and think
about that is fun and interesting and far away from all this misery. I know you need
to spend some time with Sid and the website or you will feel guilty, but as for the
website, I'm sure you realize that your wonderful group of old timers will keep it
hopping.
.........Sorry that this is so long, Joan, but I felt like I wanted to say something..........
Your Friend George  

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            TO  BOBBIE

    Bobbie.........I know a little about Vascular Dementia because that was what
my dear Helen was afflicted with and after finding this website I always felt lucky
that it was Vascular Dementia instead of Alzheimers because Alzheimers can last
up to 20 years.
      My dear Helen's life was over in four and a half years after diagnosis. She
went through the typical dementia stages just like alzheimers but it was much faster.
      My thoughts are with you Bobbie. You are a strong and passionate caregiver.
Look at the bright side. It's not Alzheimers.............GeorgieBoy 

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               THE  LITTLE  DOLL

When I had my Dear Helen in a LTC home. I noticed several other ladies there
that seemed to be attached to little toy dolls, so I brought one for my Dear Helen. 
She tried to eat it.  I left it with her even though she had nothing to do with it
and it disappeared from her room.
      About a week later, I noticed another lady had it and was very much attached
to it.   I was happy to see that the little doll had found a nice home.

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            HELEN'S LAST STIENMART TRIP

     Stiienmart was always Helen's favorite dress store. and she loved to shop there.
After the first signs of dementia showed and she quit driving, I took her to many
different Stienmarts. She found that every Stienmart was different, in that they
carried different clothing so we would travel all around to different cities and different
stores. Four in our area and three in the Palm Springs area where we often went.
     As she progressed with her dementia, she eventually forgot about Steinmart
along with everything else. But a few months before I had to put her into long
term care, I was feeling so sorry for her that I wanted to do something special.
     I took her to the local Stiemart where she had spent many happy hours in the
good old days. She seemed to know her way around there so I just let her alone
and waited in a little sitting area near the check stands. After about a half hour,
she came with some clothing in a little cart and we proceeded to the check out stand.
     The cashier lady looked at the four pretty blouses in the cart and said to her,
"Are you sure you want these? They are all extra large size". When Helen did not
respond, I told the lady that it was OK, we would take them anyway. The nice lady
seemed to sense Helen's condition and told me, "I can have someone take them and
exchange them for her correct size". I thanked her and told her that the size wouldn't
make much difference. So I paid for them and we went on our way.
     I don't think that this little event brought any special joy to my Dear Helen. For her,
it was just another routine event in another dreary day.
     For me , it was one more sad day, but at least I tried.

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