Posted March 20, 2018 in Press Releases
When Going “Down the Hill” Is a Good Thing
Sometimes, life can take a hard turn and land us in a world we never expected to exist in. Mareeta Fowler learned this firsthand when her husband William was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007. Married for 36 years, the Fowlers made a happy life in Beachwood and spent a lot of time together enjoying retirement. Before the diagnosis and progression of his disease, they did everything together. Now, life is different.
Says Mareeta, “William was forgetting things, and getting lost while driving. Red flags went up. When he first became ill it was challenging that he could no longer perform the same tasks or assume the same roles in the family. As his primary caregiver, I’ve discovered new definitions of patience for him, and for myself, and a new set of skills. We’re both very independent and enjoy our own space. This illness has demanded that I give up a lot so I have the time and patience to deal with him. It has become especially difficult for me to become the caregiver, the provider, the protector and even the fix-it person. These are all roles William gladly assumed from the day we were married.
Life is what happens when we’re busy making plans, and Mareeta realizes this. Still, she greets each day with William with strength, faith and unwavering love, and that’s how she gets to a mental and emotional place they can both thrive in. “I have also learned that peace and tranquility are more important than being right,” she adds.
But being a caregiver can be exhausting and even unhealthy as demands increase dramatically. Helping William to understand that he needed help was a challenge. “He didn’t see the memory issues like I did. There are some rough times. It’s hard when they start forgetting people. Very hard. He didn’t know me-- four years ago he asked me, ‘who are you?’ I reminded him—‘I’m your wife’. I cried for a week. Then I got over it. That’s part of the process. You have to let it go. With dementia and Alzheimer’s, they don’t know they are forgetting things. The doctor told me, ‘William doesn’t know he needs help so it’s hard to help him.’ He may see it as me hovering,” she said.
Mareeta knew William needed more stimulation than what she could provide. She also needed relief and more support. Solutions came in the form of Adult Day Care and home care. She said Menorah Park’s Mandel Adult Day Center was recommended by the Veteran’s Administration.
“William was not happy with the prospect of changing his routine to attend the Center. I was impressed with the Center and the way clients were grouped according to their capabilities, with individualized programming. He refers to coming to Menorah Park’s Center as ‘going down the hill’. We live up hill from Menorah Park and frequently passed by the campus on our daily walks. Change was difficult for him, but the staff has been very helpful in accommodating him. It’s a good reprieve with peace of mind for me.”
Tips for Caregivers from Mareeta:
*Have a good support system. Love one another. Come together.
*Find and accept help and assistance.
*Be a good strong advocate for him and don’t necessarily accept no for an answer, but let the professionals do what they do and get out of the way.
*Do your research for benefits and what’s available.
*Good relationships are important. Talk to the doctor who is most responsive.
*Positive Attitude is everything. Stand in front of the mirror and give yourself a pep talk.
*Keep the Faith: HE doesn’t do anything without a plan. Some good is coming out of it. Now I have the patience of job. The house could fall down and I’d say oh well, who should I call, that’s my coping mechanism.”
*DON’T LOSE YOURSELF: It’s important to keep your dreams alive and take care of yourself.
*Stay in the loop on advances in science and medicine.