My wife is my inspiration:

A letter from an Alzheimer's care partner

My wife of 41 years, Joan, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease last year at the age of 62. Even though her mother had Alzheimer's, the diagnosis was shocking. Like most people, we thought Alzheimer's only affected the elderly.

Without a doubt, we've been on an emotional roller coaster ride. I thank God for the wonderful services of the Alzheimer's Association. They have several programs that have helped us plan for the future, which is especially important for families dealing with younger-onset diagnosis.

Through it all, my wife is my inspiration. Long before her diagnosis, Joan was a passionate advocate for people with Alzheimer's. Now that she can't work, advocacy is her new career. And as her caregiver, my career has changed too. I travel less for work than I used to, because I want to spend as much time with Joan as possible. Every single minute is important. 

I watched my father-in-law try to do everything for his wife during her illness, and he ruined his health — it was just too much for one person. I've decided that my best approach is to stay as healthy as possible and to seek support services when we need them.

If I could give advice to anyone facing a similar situation, I would say get all the support you can get. Love your spouse. Ask for help. Take advantage of the programs from the Alzheimer's Association. They are fighting to make a difference and provide services to caregivers and families like mine.

On behalf of my wife and family, thank you for your generosity.

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Al Uronis, care partner and Alzheimer's advocate
Hudson, Ohio