Close transcript window

Transcript: "Caring for a Spouse"

Well, I'm Ellen Berliner, wife of an Alzheimer patient whose name is Arthur Berliner. We have a family of four adult children and three grandchildren. My husband was really diagnosed about ten years ago, going on eleven. He's been hospitalized for five years in a nursing facility. He presently has no speech, recognizes me not as me, but as someone who comes and does good things that he likes and fusses over him and hugs him and holds him and feeds him in a little more leisurely fashion than they're able to do there. So, I feel that being.... It's okay with me that he doesn't know who I am because he knows that I am and that I'm special. And that's plenty for me. I just took any clues that I could in the information about how to deal with the disease itself. I read what I could find about how to be a caregiver and learned simple things such as clues about bathing, making it safer and making my husband feel more secure. It's very frightening, at a certain point, for an Alzheimer's patient to try to get in the shower or the bathtub. There are things that you can do to make it not so frightening and that make them less.... They seem to be being resistant and quirky about the whole thing when actually they're just so terribly frightened and confused and not.... They don't know what's going on. My daughter, who used to go faithfully, for some reason or another right now at this point in her life is not going. She's saying, "I..." it's just nutty, but, "I find it very hard to make myself go." Whereas previously she was just, you know, Old Faithful and always going. And my son, who lives here in Pittsburgh, is just really not able to go at all. He never goes. And what he says to his wife is, "That's how I'm going to be, that's how I'm going to be, and it won't be long." And it's very, very frightening, and he doesn't want to see his dad. That no matter what their reasons are, that's very hard for me. It makes me angry. It makes me sad. It makes me disappointed. I, at one level I'm completely accepting of it, and at the other level I'm enraged and sad. Sad for them because I think when they do sustain that permanent loss known as death, they will feel badly that they weren't in closer touch.

Close transcript window