Alzheimer’s is something we never thought would affect our family. My mother-in-law Gerry was diagnosed in 2010. While it took her memory and elements of her personality with it, her spirit remained until the very end of her life.
Gerry, though my mother in law was more than that to my wife and I. When I am speaking about Gerry, our feelings for my father in law Fritzie were similar. They were our parents, friends and supporters throughout our lives. We all read articles that purport this and we say to ourselves “yeah right”, well you could ask many people and they will agree, they were special; loving, non-judgmental and fun loving.
It was so easy to be with both of my wife’s parents. Respect and love was how we always interacted. When I married my wife, I gained 2 more loving and beautiful parents. They always put us first and supported all of our life’s decisions without judgement.
Fritizie passed in April 2016 as a result of long term heart disease and COPD. One of the ways we believed Gerry dealt with his passing after over 50 years of marriage was to live in the past and sadly, but fortunately Alzeihmers facilitated that. The disease progressed to the point she didn’t remember she was married or at times who we were. However most of the time she kept her fun loving spirit and sense of humor.
We have no regrets, we were able to care for both Fritize and Gerry in their home with the aid of a caregiver and in our home with the love and patience they showed us for over 30 years. We moved Gerry to a local facility when her disease could not be managed safely in our home. She passed in hospice, in our living room in October 2017.
We are learning so much about the etiology of Alzheimer’s and so many other diseases. I am now a Food For Life instructor, have my own teaching company (www.letseatgreat.com) and am licensed by PCRM (www.pcrm.org). I teach people the benefits of a whole food plant-based diet. A vegan diet shows promising outcomes in reducing the development of Alzheimer’s according to studies published in journals such as the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. My hope is that I can help some people and their families and spare them from the ravages of this disease.