Living Life Well with A Diagnosis

Bruce Peterson
Bruce and Marikay Peterson

Yes, my wife’s diagnosis caused confusion at first. Initially we thought the short term memory loss was similar to others our age, but the tests identified a more severe limitation: Alzheimer’s

Candidly we have found many positives to this disease. It caused me to enter retirement at an earlier age than anticipated and found that I really didn’t mind missing work. The exchange from a business attitude to a more relaxed posture created a more solid marriage. Instead of me leaving an empty house to my wife(our children had moved out) at 6 am, I was sleeping longer, with less worries.

Currently we try to do something together, EACH DAY. Often times (maybe once per week) it involves an Alzheimer’s function, like our journey to Mt. Everest today. Friends have volunteered to help when I leave to play golf. It’s important to identify them before a crises, instead of after (when you can’t find them). At a recent Alzheimer’s luncheon 57 friends joined us for lunch to recognize my wife and share their concerns, to offer their prayers. You can imagine the positive impact on our entire family!

We have signed up for three/four programs that meet at the Alzheimer’s office throughout the month. We found out about Active Minds and Café Connect which encourages intellectual stimulation for seniors. Occasionally we receive free tickets to community activities. Never would we have enjoyed these many Denver activities if it were not for the diagnosis. While seeking treatment at the Anschutz Center we take pride in this wonderful expanding facility which means so much to our community. We always leave with a sense of confidence because the staff is professional while at the same time showing empathy.

Our friends have changed from a purely business and political association to new friends where we share something in common: fear about the future while coping day to day with the unknown. We enjoy our new friends as we wrestle with daily issues that are not understood by the public. We have no concerns about telling the same story multiple times or hearing a joke for the 10th time. This sincere friendship and comfort (“I understand what you’re going through”) would not have taken place a few years ago.

My wife is fully aware of her new limitations, something that might not have been admitted while working up the corporate ladder. Daily we work together to understand our feelings and how to better cope with confusion.

At this time I’m not certain of the future, but believe that this could be one of the best blessings of our retirement lives.

-Bruce Peterson

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