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Caring for my wife was the hardest thing I ever did. Alzheimer’s hit us both like a truck. We never saw it coming. All of our retirement plans changed. We wouldn’t travel as we expected. Our daughter-in-law moved in with us, sometimes even neglecting her own family. All the pleasant days we anticipated became a long string of dark, difficult, endless weeks of frustration, punctuated by missed appointments and distant friends. I grew resentful as my wife’s disease progressed. All of my hopes and dreams for a happy retirement were lost in a sea of her need for my constant attention and affection. These were the hardest days of my life… but I would not trade them for all the treasures on earth or in heaven. These were my hardest days, but in the end, they turned out to be my best days.

I can’t tell you how often I hear similar words from exhausted, grieving spouses and children. Daughters rekindle relationships with estranged fathers. Children move home to take care of their mothers and fathers. Husbands learn how to cook and do laundry. Stoic sons become affectionate and tender with their ailing mothers. Grandchildren give up parties to tenderly bathe their grandparents. Wives open their wounded hearts to men who were rarely kind to them through many painful and arduous years of marriage.

To read this and other premium articles in their entirety, pickup the November 2017 issue of Julien’s Journal magazine. Click to subscribe for convenient delivery by mail, or call (563) 557-1914. Single issues are also available in print at area newsstands and digitally via the Issuu platform.

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Jerry Schroeder

Jerry Schroeder is a Program Specialist with the local Alzheimer’s Association. His job includes meeting with families and providing educational programs for the community about Alzheimer’s and related dementia. He holds a Masters of Science in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and has been working in the field of senior services for over 25 years. He was the Assistant Director of the Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging from 1988 to 1997 then served as the lay chaplain at Ridgecrest Retirement Village for several years. He has been with the Alzheimer’s Association since 2005.

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