I still regret having been impatient, not being more forceful about the medication, and the poor choice of the first facility. And I'm grateful for family, friends and the Alzheimer's Association for their support.
JB: What about now, Elaine? What have you been doing with yourself? How do you keep busy?
ESR: When Bernie went into 24 hour care, I sold the house and moved into a continuing care community. This has proved to be an excellent choice for me. I swim every morning. I call it my hydrotherapy as I often wake up feeling crumby and know that my spirits will rise once I have my swim. I also play bridge, read and take walks.
I continue to offer courses at BOLLI, a life long learning program that Bernie started at Brandeis University after he retired ( and about five years into the illness). These courses afford me the opportunity to explore subjects of interest and boost my ego because of the positive response.
Our children continue to be attentive and involve me in social activities and I make sure to schedule visits with friends.
Elaine's 85th birthday celebration salad waiting to be enjoyed
(image by Reisman family collection) DMCA
This picture was taken in August, 2013. I was at Joel and Debby's for brunch to honor my 85th birthday. The other three children and their spouses and families were unable to attend this event, so each family was represented at the brunch with a food contribution: brownies from Baltimore, the salad from Newton, and a food basket from Hartford.
Since we could not get the whole family together for any single event, they planned a variety of activities involving every member of the family. I had a total of eight different celebrations: canoeing, playing games with my grandchildren, a week-end in the Berkshires with Sharon and Robin, a week-end in Baltimore with Eric and family where we played a game created by daughter-in law Sheryl that celebrated my life, museum excursions, visits to my apartment and receiving cards and calls. Each member of the family was involved in some way to honor me.
My newest career is as a producer/director of full length plays. Residents here, many in their nineties, participate in the reading/acting productions and the response from them and the audiences is most fulfilling for me.
It's safe and friendly here, but I truly miss my best friend.
JB: I bet. Thanks so much for talking with me and sharing some very private aspects of your life with our OpEdNews readers, Elaine.
ESR: Thank you, Joan. I'm grateful to you for affording me this opportunity to reflect.
JB: Thanks again for talking with me, Elaine. This has given me a chance to reflect too. Bernie has been an important part of my life since he mentored me during my grad school days at Brandeis.
In the next part of this series, we will hear from some of Bernie's former students and members of Bernie and Elaine's family. They will give you readers a better sense of who Bernie was, both before and after Alzheimer's. I hope you'll join us.