Deborah & Jeffrey’s Story

Published On: December 2nd, 2022Categories: Stories
Deborah and Jeffrey on a sailboat

Deborah and Jeffrey love to travel. In recent years, they’ve been to the Galapagos Islands, Cuba, and Croatia, to name a few. This fall, they’re taking their daughters and their spouses on a family vacation.

Aspects of their adventurous lifestyle have changed, however, not only because of COVID-19, but because Deborah was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in 2021. MCI causes memory problems and difficulties with thinking that are not a normal part of the aging process. Not everyone with MCI  develops Alzheimer’s, but the cognitive issues from MCI are very real and the frustration they cause are difficult to navigate.

For Deborah, who was always responsible for family finances and planning trips, her memory loss and confusion were a bit frightening. The retired English instructor worried about how it might affect her part-time work as editor for her faculty union. For Jeffrey, it was disorienting. Deborah was becoming more forgetful and was beginning to repeat herself in conversation.

Deborah and Jeffrey in Bodie, CA in 1969

Deborah and Jeffrey in Bodie, CA in 1969

Through a recommendation from a friend, Deborah and Jeffrey connected with Alzheimer’s Los Angeles. The Memory Club®, an eight-week support, education, and peer group offered them a comforting space to share experiences. The specialized program addressed their growing concerns and empowered the couple to plan for the future, while also being present in the moment.

“Short-term memory loss is very real and requires long-term patience as a partner. I’m better than I used to be in recognizing this and rising to the challenge – even when it can be a struggle,” Jeffrey said. “I try to focus on her strengths rather than her limitations.”

Deborah has adjusted at work and home to accommodate for her cognitive impairment and short-term memory loss, and she still maintains her once-a-month walking group. Jeffrey has taken on more responsibility for household organization and planning social activities. The couple is grateful for the support of friends and family, including their two adult daughters and their spouses.

Deborah and Jeffrey in Hawaii with a rainbow in the background

Deborah and Jeffrey in Hawaii

While the responsibility for organizing their trips is now Jeffrey’s, they still make the plans together, and Deborah’s MCI hasn’t deterred them from traveling.

“We don’t know where Deborah’s MCI is headed, so we’re preparing for the long haul,” Jeffrey said. “But most importantly, we’re still making time to have fun and enjoy each other.”

Stories like Deborah and Jeffrey’s highlight the powerful, life-changing impact your support has on those with dementia and the care partners who love them. Please make a gift in support of Alzheimer’s Los Angeles to provide much-needed resources and care to families in our community.

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