Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Please allow me to introduce myself"

This is a milestone year for me. I turned 50. "Middle age" is a misnomer. I don't plan on living to 100 although I'll leave that up to genetics. That's a toss-up because my father died at age 50 but my mother is nearly 90 and has three surviving siblings all over the age of 80.

My early adult years were carefree and exciting. I was an actor, producer, director and at various times in my life I was also a caterer and antiques dealer. I had my hand in a lot of things. I spent all my free time traveling the world seeking adventure, culture and cuisine.

Life Changes Unexpectedly

It's good that I did my roaming when I was younger. Although I'm the same guy I was back then, my circumstances are not. These were great times but unfortunately every time I would return home I would notice that my mother was crying a little more, becoming reclusive and increasingly forgetful. This got pretty hard to ignore, no matter how hard I tried.

The doctors said Adelaide had clinical depression. That’s not too hard to understand or accept. After all she had dealt with so much with her husband dying so young and now she was retired from her beloved teaching. A lot of people get depressed when they retire. Don’t they? Well at least there were medicines to try. And try we did…for years with no improvement. Finally there was a new doctor who introduced a new phrase to the family: Alzheimer’s disease.

That’s a pretty ugly phrase.

That was 20 years ago.

Family and life choices

I have watched my mother descend through so many unpleasant phases of this ravaging illness. Now this formerly articulate woman has arrived back in "infanthood" totally dependent on others for her daily survival. Her journey has also been my journey. Now I want to take others along with us.

I am the youngest of her children and have been her main caregiver for the past 10 years. She lives with me and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I have become a very strong, loving manager. I have found hidden inner strength, both physical and emotional, to cope with becoming the “parent” to my mother with all that is implied. There have been so many “firsts” along the way and every one of them has made us stronger. From the first time my mother forgot a familiar face to the first time we faced incontinence I had a private cry followed by resolve to work though the challenge.

I, like Gloria Gaynor, will survive!

I'm fortunate to have great friends and an amazingly strong family. I still have a great, interesting and rich life. I have learned a great deal about caring for an Alzheimer's patient and mostly I have learned a great deal about myself.

Why blog?
What can you expect to find here?

I plan on sharing amusing stories of family and friends.
I hope to give practical tips and advice for other caregivers.
You can be sure to hear a lot about food and theater. I'm going to share recipes, menus and cooking stories.
When I get the chance to travel you are surely going to hear all about my trips.

Join me

Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Tell me about your experiences as a caregiver. Or just introduce yourself to me.


  1. Christopher, you are an inspiration to all of us who are caregivers, of one kind or another! Looking forward to reading about your experiences. Thank you for sharing them.

  2. I hope you won't mind if some of us who are care-TAKERS* pop in from time to time too.

    (*TAKER: The opposite of one who gives.)

  3. Great job, Chris! This is going to be so helpful to so many people!

  4. Christopher,you are generous to your core. The fact that you are able and willing not only to take care of your mother in this way, but also to share the benefit of your experience with the rest of us, is a perfect example of your generous spirit. Will there also be mini-golf updates?

  5. Chris, I found your blog to be delightful. As a caregiver myself, I can come here and find a recipe for dinner, a recipe for caring, and a recipe for humor. Thank you for sharing all you have to offer with us. .... Cheryl

  6. Chris, your anecdotes stir quite a few memories. The Friday night soirees you describe were preceded by Saturday night galas of my recollection. In addition to memories you highlighted, I remember so well the renditions of old school Italian classics by various family members. In retrospect that all had a very serious charm much like a passed minute you know you cannot relive. On Saturday nights, the crowd spoke Italian 95% of the time so I never had to leave the room. Thanks for the memories.