Blue Hill man talks about what it’s like to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s

Posted Aug. 28, 2012, at 3:37 p.m.

BLUE HILL — “She took great care of me, now it’s my turn,” said retired physician Marshall Smith. “We often commented that we had such a great marriage that we would have to pay for it somehow.”

Marshall and Marge Smith celebrated 58 years together as husband and wife on June 26, but they have known each other since they were small children as their parents were good friends.

“We started dating when I was 14 years old. Marge graduated top of the class and I thought what guy wants to go out with a girl smarter than him, but we did,” Smith said.

Marge came from an academic family and she graduated with a master’s degree in biochemistry. She worked two years, then raised their three children. Marshall said that he took care of the money and she took care of the house.

“We started seeing memory problems about seven years ago. Our daughter was first to pick up on it as she had just helped care for her mother-in-law who had Alzheimer’s. I had been denying it,” said Smith. “I’ve had to gradually take over the household work. It’s been hard. I had to take over the cooking and I barely knew my way around the kitchen. The magazine Cooking for Two saved me.”

Smith recently had been hospitalized, but had made arrangements for such an emergency, arranging for a caregiver, his daughter and his sister, to help Marge while he was in the hospital.

“Fortunately my backup plan worked,” said Smith. “I had several people that I could rely on to help.”

Smith said that he wonders how he keeps his spirits up. “Sometimes I really get down, but I don’t let people know it. I lost her; the wife that I had is gone,” he said. “There’s no discussion, no input on decisions and that’s hard when you’ve been a team for over 50 years. I go through the grieving process every time I lose a part of her.”

He said that he attends support groups and recommends www.TheAlzheimerSpouse.com for sharing and guidance in caring for a loved one.

“My biggest worry is keeping myself healthy so I can keep care of her,” said Smith. “If I can stay healthy, I can keep her here to the end.”

The public is invited to join walkers in support of the Eastern Maine Walk to End Alzheimer’s

in Bar Harbor on Saturday, Sept. 22, and in Bangor on Saturday, Oct. 6. To sign up a team for

the walk or to make a donation, go to www.alz.org/maine or call 772-0115.

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