Paul Blanchet (Husband and Caregiver)
I remember falling in love with Linda like it was yesterday. I had just returned home from working abroad and Linda — a lifelong friend of my sister’s — asked if I wanted to meet for a drink and catch up. We had kept in touch as friends over the years, but that drink changed my life. A year later, we were married.
Through our time together we shared adventure – moving to the US with work. Linda and I had two wonderful children, Matt and Monique. We loved to travel together. We loved skiing. We cooked, and often just talked the nights away. We loved our life together.
Then one day in 2011 everything changed. At just 56 years old Linda was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. With no cure, the shock of facing this terminal disease was overwhelming for our family.
My mind flooded with memories — small things I had noticed about Linda’s behaviour and brushed off as anything but serious at the time. She had been forgetting computer passwords and she had a couple of car accidents. Linda was a realtor and wrote a lot. I remember seeing some of her handwriting and over time it just seemed to get messier and messier.
After Linda’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Paul and Linda travelled from Kelowna to Vancouver to visit CARD at UBC Hospital.
CARD is the only comprehensive specialty clinic for dementia in BC. It provided the resources Linda and Paul needed to understand Alzheimer’s and it’s impacts.
Over time, Linda’s mind deteriorated and I shifted to becoming her full-time caregiver. Feeding, bathing and keeping her company, all the while working in a fast-paced high-tech company. It was exhausting, but I would do anything for my best friend; the woman I love most in the world.
For years I was Linda’s support, but as the disease progressed, I could not keep up and she needed more. The dreaded time had come for Linda to go into residential care.
Thankfully, when we moved Linda into her care home just down the block, she didn’t realize she had even moved from home. She didn’t suffer and she is very well cared for. At this point, that’s all I can ask. While we all work hard to support those affected by this dreadful disease, the end goal is a cure. Research must continue, the faster the better for all of us on this earth.
No statistic can ever fully capture the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on patients and their families. It’s a physical, emotional and financial burden, but we can do more to support caregivers and provide hope for tomorrow.
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