This November, in honor of National Family Caregivers Month, we are telling the stories of family caregivers.
Bob Reinholt met his wife George Ann at the University of Washington in 1956. They married and settled in the Yakima Valley to raise their family. In 2008, Bob noticed changes in George Ann, such as misplacing items, forgetting small things (like dates) and trouble keeping score on the golf course. At the time, the two tried to laugh it off. Over time, however, George Ann’s symptoms progressed.
George Ann was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011. Bob’s role as a husband now had the additional layer of caregiver. The couple eventually moved to Wenatchee to be closer to their family. Bob cared for George Ann at home until August of 2017. She passed away just before Christmas of 2017.
Below, Bob shares some tips to people who are in the process of their caregiving journey:
1. Join a support group provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.
“I can tell you it was a great help to me. They are made up of a fairly small group of people who are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, has a loved one in a care facility or even someone who has lost their loved one. You sit with others and talk about what is happening in your life and the life of the one you care about.”
2. Be prepared for huge changes along the way.
“I can remember the first time our daughter Becky came over and her mother did not recognize her, but was overjoyed to see her dog. There are so many things that will occur over and above the physical changes. They may say hurtful things, perhaps be aggressive or wander. You never know what might occur at any given time. You need to remember the person you see today is not the person you have known and loved for so many years. George Ann was a bright, fun-loving person who would talk to just about anyone, constantly making new friends and helping whenever asked. She loved being involved in our children’s activities from 4-H, horse shows, ice hockey and all the other activities they pursued.”
3. Find the good
“Finally, one thing I really tried to do no matter how difficult the day had been was to try and find at least one good thing that had occurred that day.”
Bob and his family participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s with Team Reinholt Family and Friends and raised over $7,500. Move us one step closer to a world without Alzheimer’s by donating through the end of the year.