My New Alzheimer's Lifestyle

Last updated: November 2023

I will admit it - for most of my life I have been pretty selfish. I don't mean dangerously so, although you may have to ask my family about that. What I mean is that ever since I was a mere lad, I would wake up thinking about my agenda, my to-do list, my thoughts and dreams.

I would rush to shower and clothe myself and look in the mirror wondering how I looked and felt. I would think about what I wanted to eat or drink. I had a personal daily bucket list that I would attend to directly.

What did I need to do at work? Around the house? Of course being married and having children (and a dog) modified a lot of that. I learned to briefly adjust my behaviors for the sake of my family, but I always seemed to be back in the same place mentally.

Even if I was doing something for someone else, I would be thinking about what I needed to accomplish. Sad, right?

The "Me Monster"

The kids are grown up. Our dog passed away last September. I still engage my family in loving and caring ways. I love them. I also thought that at this stage in my life I would be thinking about what other folks think about as they approach 60.

Are there places that I would like to visit? Where can we vacation? Can I take photos of eagles in Alaska? The "Me Monster" started creeping in again. Or did it?

I realize now that those plans will have to be put on hold at least for now.

Committed to helping

I am committed to helping my mother-in-law through these years of Alzheimer's. I am okay with my new lifestyle. Maybe I have just grown up a little. I find myself making sure that my wife's mom is safe and fed and clean before I even look in the mirror. I make sure that she is settled before I settle myself.

Even though my wife still handles the lion's share of the responsibility with her mom, I am often alone and caring for someone who seems so unpredictable. I guess I am learning to embrace the challenges and the joys, too.

As things get more difficult, I realize that I cannot really plan ahead much. My yearly planner is mostly empty. My weekly and daily planners get more attention. Alzheimer's changes how you plan.

Alzheimer's is changing me

This new normal is my new lifestyle. It's more simple, if not easier. It's about living each day to the fullest, and not having to have all the answers. It's about appreciating the present moment and not stressing too much about the "what if's" and "what may's." I am now fine with a to do list that seems nebulous and ill-defined. I like this new me better, anyway. I hope that others do, too.

Alzheimer's is changing me.

I come from a religious tradition that emphasizes service and humility. Loving one another is supposed to be at the forefront of my lifestyle. Staring at the mirror for too long is not. So, in this sense, I am become more of what I really want and need to be. Oh sure, there are times of the day, when I wonder if I can handle this. Then, I find the strength and resolve to do so. I am sure that others in my situation are experiencing the same sorts of things.

We are all changing. Our lifestyles are not the same. How about you? How are you handling these changes?

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