By Brandt Raeburn
My wife Meg worked as a social worker for Adult Protective Services for 14 years, holds a Masters Degree, and handled over 70 cases a month.┬áShe turned down supervisory positions to stay on the front line where she felt she could make a difference.┬áAbout 6 years ago a change began to occur where she was no longer able to multi-task and was becoming scared of her daily routine.
I lost my father to AlzheimerΓÇÖs after an 8 year fight in 1999, and could see the signs beginning of what I prayed was not happening, and feared the most.┬áMeg would cry for fear of going to work and I contacted her supervisor, and Meg resigned her position in February 2006.┬áAfter six months of doctors and hospitals, the diagnosis was confirmed and Meg was already moderately severe with AlzheimerΓÇÖs.┬áShe was 50 years old.
We have five children, and my oldest daughter and I worked out a routine for her care during the day while I work.┬áShe requires 24/7 care and cannot be left alone.┬áI had planned on retiring within a year, and we were going to move to Johnson City to our retirement dream on the Pedernales River.┬áThis now was delayed and I have stayed with my position to financially make it feasible to retire in a position to where I could take care of Meg and myself.
We are fighting the good fight and with the help of a great neurologist and medication have managed her transition into the darkness and slowed it, but still it progresses every day.┬áIn the beginning we cried and watched as the disease progressed uncontrollably.┬áNow she has no idea what has happened and is happiest when we are together.┬áI thank God that she still knows me and I know that each day is important.┬á┬áI talk to the ΓÇ£big guy upstairsΓÇ¥ all the time and thank Him that I am young enough to take care of her.
Routines are the most important and we have a good one.┬áMy days are full, but rewarding, and the simple things have become the most important.┬áI have a little over to two years to retire and have made plans for us to transition to Johnson City.┬áThis is where she is the happiest.┬áI am fortunate I have found someone to move with us and will live there to help me take care of Meg.┬áPeople are different and have varying thoughts, but with me a nursing home is not an option, and unless some type of major medical need arises, she will never see the inside of one.
Today, over 5 million Americans are diagnosed with AlzheimerΓÇÖs and that number is increased geometrically by 15 million when you count the caregivers and families affected.┬áThis number is on the verge of exploding as the ΓÇ£baby boomersΓÇ¥ begin to retire.┬áI have found friends with the AlzheimerΓÇÖs Association and am dedicated to raising funds for research and petitioning our government for legislative changes to help families being decimated financially by this disease.
This is for those who know all too well what I am talking about, those who are just learning, and those who do not know their world will change overnight. ┬áThis is our story, and Meg and I had a dream yesterday of what tomorrow would bring. ┬áNow all has changed and today dictates what tomorrow will be.
In honor of my beloved wife, I have organized Team Meg.