This post is authored by Cathy Breitenbucher, an award-winning writer and Marty Schreiber’s co-author of My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver.
If you’ve ever watched “American Pickers,” you have an idea what it’s like to travel with Marty Schreiber. I’m Frank, the more serious one who always watches the clock to make sure we’re not running late; and he’s Mike, often joking and never hesitating to take a detour so he can enjoy the view from a country road or a cruise down a small-town Main St.
We added more than 700 miles of “windshield time” during a recent tour of northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where Marty spoke with Alzheimer’s caregivers and shared his story. That puts us at nearly 5,000 miles in 2017.
Every event, invariably, we pull out of town saying, “Those people in (whatever city) were so nice.” You feel for them, realizing they’ve been dealt a bad hand. And almost worse, you hear them fail to take credit for the work they do out of love for their family member. Alzheimer’s caregivers do their very best under almost impossible circumstances and should never feel guilty that they aren’t doing more.
Caregivers everywhere worry about whether to move Mom or Dad into assisted living. They’re worried – rightfully so – about paying for a nursing home. One person we met said a loved one was being duped out of his savings by various companies, but his family was unable to get the legal authority to stop him. Sadly, we couldn’t offer any real help, just our concern.
And so we go on to our next stops, hoping we can offer Alzheimer’s caregivers a little advice, some humor, and a bit of hope that they somehow can get through this.