Just talking helps when you have a spouse with Alzheimer’s, woman says
After suffering the effects of her husband’s Alzheimer’s disease, Betty Miller joined a support group.
“Just talking helps,” said Miller, who continues to work with the group a four years after the death of her husband. “There’s a lot of frustration (dealing with the Alzheimer patient) because as the disease progresses, they don’t know who your are.”
She said people react differently to the disease, but it mainly effects the short-term memory.
“Maybe you don’t look the same as you did when you were married,” she said referring to her husband. “For (the patient) it’s like being with a stranger.
“It really is a horrible disease.”
The brain disease, which has no cure, is difficult for the caregivers who want to keep their loved ones at home.
“You get to the point where you think you’re going to have a nervous breakdown,” she said.
She said her husband, who was diagnosed with the disease in 1989, was athletic and active.
“It was difficult to see him in diapers,” she said.
Miller, the facilitator of the Carson Valley group started by the Northern Nevada Chapter of Alzheimers’ Association, has been working with the group for five years. She said she can help caregivers because she has already gone through it.
“You grieve twice,” she said, “once when they are (in advanced stages) and don’t know us, and then again when they die.”
Medication is now available to treat Alzheimer’s to delay memory loss in early stages of the disease, she said.
But the medication doesn’t work on everybody, and it is expensive, she said. It can cost $3,000 to $4,000 a month.
The Alzheimer’s support group is changing their meeting place from the library to the Young at Heart Senior Center by request of the seniors with spouses with the disease, according to Kathy Maidlow, director of senior services.
The group will meet the second Thursday of each month at 2 to 3 p.m. at the center at 2300 Meadow Lane, Gardnerville. The next meeting will be March 13.
Alzheimer’s patients are welcome to come to the meeting.
Miller said it is difficult for the patients to sit for any length of time, so games will be offered to them during the meetings.
For information call the center at 782-8267 or Miller at 782-7935.