Susan Bithrey and her husband Reg were looking forward to the perfect retirement until life interrupted. Susan describes how she reframed her experience and found ways to affirm her husband’s strengths, even as they diminished. In the process, she found new strengths within herself.
As a retirement gift, Susan was given a journal to record their many “golden year’s” adventures that they had planned together. Instead it sat empty until a year before Reg’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, when she started to keep an account of her concerns about his memory struggles. It became a five volume tool for documenting the disease and for reflective learning for her and she generously shares her very poignant first entry with us.
Susan honestly reflects on having to learn on the job of becoming a caregiver; figuring out how and when to roll up her sleeves and jump in and when to have Reg speak for himself, make his own decisions and recognize his ability to do so. She also bravely shares some stories surrounding the heartbreaking personality changes that her husband went through and recommends grief counselling for caregivers in this situation.
Her humble and wise words to conclude this episode will resonate with anyone else encountering the same circumstances.
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