Originally created 10/02/00

'There's a major life lesson here ...'

I just finished reading The Augusta Chronicle's Sept. 25 Associated Press article concerning the vulnerability of care-givers of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

I can attest to everything said therein, since my wife, daughter and I were, in fact, the only care-givers of my mother for the better part of five years. She was never institutionalized and died in her bed at our place.

Only one who has been through it knows. Therefore, others who we hear speaking, as though with authority, should not do so because if they were unfortunate enough to have it happen to them, then you would hear something totally different being said.

In spite of the fact that it took someone with the profile of Ronald Reagan, at least the masses seem to care more, whereas before only the ones directly affected showed much concern.

In one sense, you could say Alzheimer's is contagious, inasmuch as there are those (sometimes few; sometimes many) who are just as devastated, if not more, than the principle patient.

As in the case of Lucy Allen (daughtercare-giver) and her mother who appeared in your paper, Ms. Allen quickly learned that all her mother's lifelong friends vanished.

Her exact words were, "I didn't have friends, I didn't feel I could cope." She goes on to say, "There's a major life lesson here and I've learned so much." As a former care-giver, that sentence means more to me than any single sentence I've ever read.

Andy Chandler, Augusta


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