Oct 202016
 
sunsetjamaica

My wife Kim and I in Jamaica.

In 2015, I was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. My father, 85, and the youngest of 10, is living with Alzheimer’s, as well as one of his brothers. Their father also had the disease.

Still fresh in my mind is an early incident at my grandparent’s home. My grandmother was trying to tell my grandfather where the closet was so that he could hang his coat, as he had done so many times before. He was standing right in front of the closet, but couldn’t seem to find it. I recall her looking at me, saying, “He’s confused, honey.”  At that time I had no idea how he could have been possibly confused. That event, more than 45 years ago, left an indelible mark in my memory that resonates today as I live my daily life with Alzheimer’s.

My parents and daughter packing goody bags for the kids of the Palm Grove church.

My parents and daughter packing goody bags for the kids of the Palm Grove church.

My faith helps me approach each day with hope. Almost every morning I stand in the shower and I say to myself, “I won’t be here forever, but I’m here now, so I need to live and advocate today.” I know that God has my back.  I’ve always been a doer and God has given me another opportunity to glorify him, as I know I have been prepared for this journey.

familydinner

In Ocean City with daughters Aubreigh & Erin, my wife Kim, son Michael &  his girlfriend Joanna.

 

 

 

My wife Kim is amazing, and her compassion and faith are exceptional.  She has stood by me 100 percent through this entire experience.  As soon as I was diagnosed, she began researching the disease and joined a care partner support group through the Delaware Valley chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. We are an eHarmony success story, married 10 years now! This is the second marriage for both of us and blending our families over the last decade has been both challenging and rewarding.  We credit the success of our marriage to our strong faith.  We know that we could not navigate the complexities of this illness without God to sustain us.

My mom is my dad’s caregiver. Kim and my mom drive us to our appointments, as we’re both unable to drive. They share the belief that Alzheimer’s is nothing to be ashamed of.  It’s not contagious and it does not define who a person is. They advocate for us and support us every step of the way.

jerseycitywalk

At the Jersey City Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Although my dad can’t lead a very active lifestyle due to a stroke, he loves to tell stories about his family and his time serving our country during the Korean conflict. It may be challenging to pull everyone together for family activities these days, but we get together as much as possible.  We spend a week every year in Ocean City and go on camping trips.  We are also very involved with our church; Kim and I have been working for many years as missionaries to a children’s church in Jamaica.

In addition to her monthly caregiver support group, Kim attends state advocacy meetings and is my main source of support at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s where I have spoken on behalf of others living with Alzheimer’s at the promise garden ceremonies. She does so much for me and I try to show her gratitude all the time. I recently surprised her with a weekend to a cozy bed and breakfast in Lancaster, Penn., to enjoy the autumn colors!

palmgrovechurch

At the church where we do missionary work.

I often think that it’s the family members and caregivers that struggle more than the person with the disease. I know the job of a care partner or caregiver is very challenging and can so often go unrewarded or underappreciated, so I make sure to thank Kim for the things she does for me on an everyday basis.

Kim and Mom, and all care partners and caregivers: I know your job is not easy.  Seeing your loved ones change in such a drastic way, the promise of a long life together seemingly dashed with the diagnosis—I know it’s difficult.  You have to do everything in your power to maintain what control you do have over the situation.  For myself, and for some of those with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis who have become incapable of expressing our emotions – thank you from the depths of our hearts.

Our hearts are still beating.  We’re still here, we still love.  Thank you for loving me … thank you for loving us.

About the Author: Jeff Borghoff is raising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease as a member of the Alzheimer’s Association 2016 National Early-Stage Advisory Group (ESAG).

  43 Responses to “Thank You for Loving Me”

  1. Jeff and Kim, thanks for all that you do. I wish you many blessings and happy days ahead. Thank goodness you have each other!

  2. Thanks for the story, Jeff. What strategies do your mother and your wife use to ensure they can focus on self-care and avoid burning out?

    • Hello, I am Jeff's wife. To avoid burn out I attend a monthly support group I found through the Alzheimer's Association. I recently started to walk/job to help with the stress. Since we found out the news, I have gained some weight and I need to stay healthy so I can take care of Jeff. I also read books about the disease and ways to help me understand this crazy time in our lives. I hope this information helps!

    • Hello, This is Jeff's wife. I attend a support group once a month that I found on Alzheimer's Association web-page. I also recently started to walk/jog every night after work to try and help with the stress. Since we found out Jeff has alzheimer's I have gained some weight. I need to take care of myself and stay healthy so I can continue to take care of him. In addition, I read books about the disease and how to handle this new life we have. I hope this information helps.

  3. You are glorifying God with your steadfast love and faith in the midst of great trials. My husband also had early onset and with God's help and others we navigated a 13 year journey and my 3 children 8, 12, 15 at the time, My prayers are with you today Jeff and Kim and your family! Thank you for sharing your story!!

  4. Hi Jeff, thank you so much for sharing your story.

    My husband's name is DeWitt and he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's at the age of 58-years-old. He is now 64-years-old. His mother was diagnosed about the same age as he was. He has at least three siblings that also have been diagnosed with this terrible disease. We have three adult children.

    I began noticing the symptoms when he was 57. He was having problems finding his way home from church, work, or anywhere, or remembering what he went into the store to get. I could go on and on, but I am sure you already understand. It has really been a journey for us. Everyday a little of him slips away from me. We have been married for 39-years and I understand your comment about "You have to do everything in your power to maintain what control you do have over the situation".

    Thank you again for sharing. It means so much to touch bases with couples that are dealing with early-onset

    Deb Edwards

    • Thank you Deb, I do empathize. I will pray for you, DeWitt and your family. Prayer is powerful. God bless. ~ Jeff

  5. This made me cry what a loving tribute to Kim and your mom whom I love. You are truly a very special person who in their own time of need has reached out to try to help others, May God Bless you and your family.

  6. Jeff, your story is inspirational and I'm sure that both Kim and your Mom wouldn't have it any other way, your love and faith keeps you all together and strong. Your family are in my thoughts and prayers. In the early stages of my husband's diagnosis he suddenly started drawing, something he had never done before. I've now decided to sell his drawings and raise money for the Alzheimer's Association, with 100% of the funds (except Sales Tax and Shipping) being donated to AA. Fortunately God gave me the strength and courage to care for my husband at home, which I did on my own. After my husband died in 2012, I donated his brain to the Mayo Clinic for research, and it is my mission now to spread the word about this deadly disease, and raise funds in the hope of finding a cure. Please can you help me by spreading the word about the website – thank you so much for your support. God bless you all. http://www.alzheimersfundraiserart.com

    • Hello Angela, thank you so much for you kind words and sharing your story and Alan's artwork with us. God bless, stay strong and keep the faith. ~ Jeff

  7. Dang! I was in tears while reading this post. Nice read Jeff.

  8. Thanks for sharing this emotional post with us. This story is truly inspiring. The way your whole family is standing beside you and supporting you through every step of this disease is commendable. Love and best wishes to you.

  9. Thanks for sharing your story, Jeff. You are lucky to have such a nice support. Your wife is great!

  10. Thank you for sharing your story! So amazing. I'm sure your Ocean City trip is always a fun time. I like the picture of the Walk to End Alzheimer's. We just participated in one at St. Cloud, Minnesota in September. Great photos, and best of luck to you and your family.

  11. You and Kim looking gorgeous in the very first pic !! You have escaped yourself from this disease with happier moments this is such a inspirational story for people like me. While diagnosis you had to gone through such a tough check ups. But I am just emotional while writing this post. I have such a wonderful experience after reading it. I am very thankful to you from the bottom of my heart. This type of post gives an sympathy to the patients who are living with the same disease.

    • Thank you Alina Angel. I'm happy we were able to inspire you. My inspiration comes from my faith and family. My life verse is from Phil 4:4-9 to always rejoice and think on good things. Bless you. ~ Jeff

  12. My mother was diagnosed w/ Alzheimer's at 65 years of age. She survived until age 71 and my father was her only caregiver. She lived at home for the whole time that she had Alzheimer's. I miss her every day and there are still times that I wish that I could speak to her. She died in January of 2005.

    • Hello Heidi, sorry to hear of your loss. Your love for your mother will sustain her memory. Bless you and your father for being her caregiver. ~ Jeff

  13. Jeff, you are a very strong person and blessed with a loving and supportive family. I really appreciate the efforts of your wife. Yes, this is a fact that family caregivers face a lot of difficulties with a loved one with Alzheimer’s, to ease this burden family caregivers can also get some respite by hiring professional hourly home caregivers who are trained to handle difficult situations and also assist in little house keeping to help families spend more quality time.

  14. God's blessings to you and Kim. You have lifted me up today. As a caregiver of a wonderful man in his early 70's, to whom I have been married for over 50 years , yours is a story of encouragement. I get so angry with myself when I become short-tempered with this most outstanding man. I have stage 4 cancer, which he sometimes remembers, but mostly not. I try to keep the days light and pleasant, but I need some prayers here to sustain us. We also are very active in our church family. We are on this journey together, for better or worse.

    Cindy

    • My dearest Cindy. Our Lord Jesus is with you on this journey. Never loose heart, never loose faith. I have great respect for you both that you've been married for over 50 years, a lifetime of wonderful memories. My parent too have been married 55 years. There are very few that can make claim to this wonderful union these days. I encourage to use your faith to help you through those times when you lose patience with your husband. I will pray for you and your husband this Tuesday at our church pray group. As we approach this Thanksgiving I found some joy listening to Dr. Charles Stanley I also wish to share with you https://www.intouch.org/watch/when-adversity-stri… Dr. Stanley uses my life verse in this sermon. Phili 4:4-9. Blessings to you and your husband Cindy. ~ Jeff

  15. Thank you for your continued efforts to raise awareness. God Bless both you and Kim for the journey ahead of you. At 62 my husband lost his battle with early onset Alzheimer’s but he, too, thanked me all along the way as we navigated the path before us, sometimes with smiles and sometimes with tears, but always together. My prayers for you and your family,

    Deb

  16. Thank you so much for sharing your lives.
    My husband and I met in 2002. We've been together since. We've married, and he took both my children under his wing and has been a terrific father and husband. My children and I love him to pieces. He's been diagnosed with CMD, but I suspect it's a bit worse than that. It's shattering to see my soul mate having memory issues and confusion. Some days he can't remember the conversation he had the day before, and then on other days it is like he's not having any memory issues at all. Anyway, I love this man more than life, and I'm praying daily, that his memory does not turn into full blown Alzheimer's.

    May God be with you always, Kelly

    • Thank you Kelly. Sorry to hear this about your husbands diagnosis. I am very encouraged by all the advances being made in the research community. Please consider having your husband meet with a research group conducting trials. I am in a trial myself with the Biogen trial medication and the results are very promising. It will not likely cost you anything to participate and you will be able to confirm if it is Alzheimer's or not. Check out http://www.alz.org/research/clinical_trials/find_… as well. God bless you Kelly. ~ Jeff

  17. Beautiful story and I was blessed by every word I read. I am now caregiver to my 85 year old sister with Alzheimer's. Ten years ago I was caregiver to my 56-year old niece who had ALS.

    I know our God will surround you with His peace and hope.

    Love to all.

    Anna P.

  18. What a beautiful testament to your your Love of God and to each other…..thank you for sharing

    Joan K

  19. mine husband was diagnosis with Alzheimer disease at the age of 52 I have been taking care of him by mine self with no help from family he lost 5 members to the disease his dad and all of his dad brother and sisters

  20. My wife was diagnosed 6 years ago with Posterior Cortical Atrophy, a form of AD. Sight issues along with many of the other AD complications, cause some difficult times. We have caregivers and some family to help out. My wife doesn't talk about her illness
    and doesn't pick up on our attempts to talk about the illness. Any ideas?

    • Hello Joe,
      I'm very sorry to hear of your wife's diagnosis. I can make no claim to being therapist but perhaps she may be in denial? I certainly would understand this if it were the case. Facing the illness and allowing yourself to accept it is important. There is a pattern of stigmatized thought regarding any neurological disease, even in this day and age. I would suggest you seek out a support group for her http://alz.org/apps/we_can_help/support_groups.as…. Or even private therapy. My wife and I go to private therapy and Kim goes to a support group for caregivers. We're working with our local Alzheimer's Association to start a support group for people living with Alzheimer's and other Dementia in my area as well. I can tell you that many times it's easier to share what you're going through with people facing similar issues outside your close family unit. I hope this helps. Blessing to you Joe. Remain hopeful. ~ Jeff

  21. My mother was the caregiver for both of my grandmothers and was diagnosed last month with this devastating disease. My parents are pastors of a small country church and have relied on their faith to see them through both my grandmothers struggles. My mother is slowly changing and worries about my dad and i and how we will cope. I remind her daily how wonderful she is and reassure her that we will care for her like she cared for my grandmothers. She is the most precious lady i k ow. She has always sacrificed for her family. Now is our time to pay her back. Your story is inspiring. Thank you for sharing

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