Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s Disease

Are the Widowed Still Married or No longer Married? Widowed Catholics have Different Viewpoints

 

 

journeysthrugrief.wordpress.com

By Larry Peterson

We have come to know and believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in Him.”

The above quote from 1 John 4:16 led me to write what follows. It is a profound and beautiful quote and we should all try to remember it.

I have gone from being a husband to being a widower; twice.  My first wife, Loretta, died of cancer in 2003. My second wife, Marty, died from Alzheimer’s disease in March of 2017. What is interesting is how we, the widowed, perceive our widowhood.  I have discovered that some who have been widowed, both men and women, still consider themselves married. Some, like me, do not. Why is that?

Grief and loneliness are not fleeting, emotional upheavals. Contrary to what some of the experts might say, you never “get over it.” When a man and a woman have shared their lives with each other, given of themselves to each other, cared for each other and loved each other—in good times and in bad—it is a beautiful thing. It is how God planned it.

The married couple, especially those acknowledging God as their unifying, foundational support, become a new family. The man complements the woman; The woman complements the man; together they become one.

When the death of one of the spouses occurs, the one left behind oftentimes may feel completely deserted. There is a part of them missing. Feeling lost and alone no one, even your own children, cannot take away that feeling of being forsaken. Instead of  “getting over it” the widowed person begins a process.

Each and every one of us is unique and have our own way of dealing with the loss. We take our grief and loneliness and slowly begin placing it somewhere inside ourselves. The common denominator for the widowed is this: it takes time, lots of time.

Enter the quote at the beginning of this essay. As a man who is rooted in his Catholic faith, those words within the quote of, “God is Love,” explains (at least for me) what the death separation means. I know that both of my wives were women of faith and that they received the last rites.

I was married twice. Both times in the church. Therefore, when Loretta passed away, I became unmarried. ( I never thought of being  “unmarried” nor of getting married “again.” It just happened). My meeting Marty was unplanned and unexpected. But then I began to see the hand of God in all of this. Stay with me now.

Loretta is always a part of me. She lives on in my mind, heart, and soul. I was with her when she received the Anointing of the Sick.  Marty will always be a part of me and lives on within me also. I was with her when she received the Anointing of the Sick.  I loved them both but in different ways. It was amazing to discover this. God had taken Loretta who became embraced by eternal Love. Fourteen years later, God took Marty, who is now, also embraced by eternal Love.

From the bible quote, it all becomes crystal clear how this works. And it is beautiful. If God is Love and my spouses are with HIM (and I know that they are because all the power of the Church was bestowed on both of them at their hours of death), all they now know is LOVE.

Un-canonized saints, I can talk (pray) to them, and I know all they can do is Love me and want the best for me.  There can be no anger or envy or avarice or jealousy or anything like that in the Love world. I may remain a widowed man or I may not. I have no idea. Whatever way the Spirit moves me I leave it all to Him. I know I am in Good Hands.

There is the old cliché of, “it is better to have loved and lost—“ I have wondered about that because the lost part can really hurt. But, since I do know that God is Love, I would do it again.

 

 

 

 

Dementia and Medication Distribution–a Daily Challenge for the Caregiver

Small pill organizer

By Larry Peterson

In America, one in ten people over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s Disease. (Alzheimer’s Disease is only one of many types of dementia. There are also other types, such as Vascular Dementia or Lewy Body Dementia and many others). Please note: There is no “magic” pill that can cure Alzheimer’s Disease.

Since I was the caregiver for my wife, Marty, who had this insidious illness, I thought I could share some of my experience in dealing with the medication factor. It was a challenge, to say the least, because the meds were being constantly adjusted and oftentimes changed to something different.

Medicine distribution by the caregiver could be the most critical factor in a person’s quality of life. Medications are powerful and, if used as directed, cannot only prolong the patient’s life but can also help maintain a better quality of life for a longer period of time. Please note: There is no “magic pill” that cures Alzheimer’s Disease.

My first tip is, and I believe this may be the best tip I can give anyone: You called a plumber when you had a broken water pipe so now you have called a doctor for a damaged loved one. You need their expertise and you should expect crisp, clear answers to any questions you may have. Whether or not the patient is your spouse, child, parent, grandparent or old Aunt Lucille, never be afraid to ask a question.

Alzheimer’s Disease presents in three general stages; early stage (mild), middle-stage (moderate), and late-stage (severe). During the early stages, the patient will still be able to interact with you about the medications they are receiving. However, as time goes by, invariably these meds will change and increase in dosages. In addition, the patient will start to lose the ability to understand what is going on. That is when your responsibility begins moving into high gear especially when it comes to med distribution.

Marty suffered from several illnesses. Besides Alzheimer’s Disease, she was recovering from cancer, (Lymphoma),  had A-Fib (Atrial Fibrillation is a leading cause of strokes) and a severely broken ankle. This required the involvement of not only her primary care doctor but also an oncologist, a cardiologist, and an orthopedist. They had all prescribed different meds.

The first time you are presented with a bag of various medications it can be an intimidating experience. You look in the bag and see a bunch of vials and a packet of paperwork. The paperwork includes individual explanations and descriptions of each of the meds in the bag. Take a breath, stand each vial on the table or counter and match each one to its corresponding paperwork.

Next step is to make a list of every one of the meds, the dosage of each, and how many times a day it is supposed to be given. (FYI–the letter X denotes times per day so a 3X means three times a day). I entered my list into a word.doc format and stored it on my computer. This way it was easy to update as doses and meds were changed by the doctors. I also printed copies out and always had one with me when visiting one of the doctors or making a visit to the hospital.

The next thing you MUST do for yourself is to purchase a pill box organizer. These are (in my opinion–indispensable). Since I had to distribute meds 4X a day I purchased an organizer that had four rows of seven-day pockets with snap-lock lids. I also had an organizer that had two rows of seven pockets which I used for vitamin supplements.

Once a week, usually on a Saturday evening, I would clear the table and spread the medicine vials out. After several weeks I began to know exactly where everything was supposed to go. For example; Furosemide (a water pill aka Lasix) could only be given on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Coumadin (a blood thinner, was given in doses of  6mg  4X a week and 7.5 mg 3X a week). The pillbox organizer made it quite simple to separate these meds properly into their designated days.

Once the pill box organizer was filled I was ready for the week ahead. When Sunday morning came the routine started all over. I just had to open the Sunday morning box and take out those pills and give them to my patient. Then it was off to Mass.

©Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson