Elizabeth Crawford, I call her Liz, earns a vase of flowers from my local florist for the sensitive, timely op-ed piece on Sept. 20, “Alzheimer’s caregivers grieve loss of a loved one who’s still alive.”

Liz is a skilled Spectrum Generations family caregiver specialist leading support group sessions at the Cohen Center in Hallowell, where I was a regular attendee for six years until my recent health challenges kept me away. I’ll be back soon.

In a nutshell, Liz’s article mirrors the picture painted in David Shenk’s book, “The Forgetting, Alzheimer’s: Portrait of an Epidemic.” Pages 122 and 123 describe how the disease causes adults to retrogress with age, the opposite of the way children progress with age. A husband and wife relationship becomes parent and child.

The purpose of my writing is to flesh out Liz’s note that “caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia is a 24/7, 365 days-per-year job.”

I’m age 83, caregiver to wife of 53 years, Judy, 75, challenged 12 years by Alzheimer’s and now in the end stage of the disease. She’s also a 28-year breast cancer survivor and at stage three of kidney malfunction (five is dialysis).

Here are some of my recent caregiver surprises: Who to call when Judy suddenly refuses to allow me to give her a sponge bath; what to do when she refuses to go to bed at a reasonable hour or resists removing her street clothes at bedtime; how to keep her from roaming into the parking lot from my hip surgeon’s office where I’ve an appointment; how to keep her from roaming our home, door to door, and rearranging furniture and concealing family paperwork, need for a new diaper, bed pad and jammies at 3 a.m.

Her child-like whispers, “I love you,” seem payment enough.

John Benoit


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