United Front Connects Caregivers

April 3, 2013 in Conversation, Health by United Front

United Front is pleased to announce the launch of a new online community of highly active caregivers, on and offline. These individuals make up a group of dedicated individuals who will be a supportive presence in Caregiving NOW, an online community for caregivers throughout Minnesota. In the coming months we’ll introduce other caregivers from the group and share their stories. If you’re interested in becoming a part of this online community, or would like more information about Caregiving NOW, please contact United Front.

Mary Margaret Lehmann’s Story

“Alzheimer’s was not part of the future my husband, Ken, and I visualized, as we looked forward to our anticipated retirement, in CA. Ken had had a long career in the furniture industry, as an interior designer and executive of a large furniture company. In addition, he was a college professor of interior design and history of furniture. I was very busy as a mother, as well as speech pathologist for 30 years. I went back to school at age 59 to get another degree at U.C. Davis, to become a Literacy Coach and ultimately an adjunct professor at UCLA. During this very busy time, I had noticed some changes in Ken’s personality, behaviors and memory, here and there, over a period of several years, which I questioned. Our doctor said he felt they were signs of normal aging. As time went on, however, Ken was withdrawing more and more from our friends and social situations. Then, one day, in October 2009, Ken told me that he could not remember how to access our bank account online.

This was alarming. This was something he had done every day, for years. I asked him if he thought he would consider seeing his new doctor, since his former doctor had retired. He agreed, immediately.

Officially, I became a caregiver at that doctor’s appointment, when Ken’s new internist diagnosed him with Early Stage Alzheimer’s, pending confirmation of a neurologist and more in depth testing. I knew I needed the support of our children, so in February 2010 we moved to snowy Minnesota to be close to our daughter and family and to spend a few months a year with our son and family, in NC, as well. As wonderful as they were and still are, it became apparent that I needed professional help and support in accepting my new role. A friend from CA called to see how I was doing and upon hearing, suggested I call the Alzheimer’s Association’s Helpline, which I affectionately call my Lifeline. I was put at ease by a wonderful, warm care-consultant, Alyssa Aguirre, who has been beside me throughout my new journey as a caregiver. She has helped me reach a place of ACCEPTANCE, of living with Alzheimer’s Disease. This, I quickly learned, does not mean giving up, but rather, seeing things as they really are. She, as well as others from the Alzheimer’s Assoc helped us realize that “fighting” Alzheimer’s Disease, results in more anger, more anxiety and more negative energy. ACCEPTANCE of Alzheimer’s allows love and compassion to prevail for ourselves, as well as for others. It allows us to breathe deeply, to listen and take the time to learn about and understand Alzheimer’s. As a result of all the support we have received, Ken and I have grown closer than any other time in our marriage. Alzheimer’s is not a blessing, however, from it, many blessings have come.”