Lewis Beaver, 87, has been married to his wife Pauline for 62 years. They have four children together and live in Lake City. Lewis feels lonely though. He takes care of Pauline, 84, who has lived for ten years with Alzheimer’s disease and, now, liver cancer.
“My heart hurts for anyone in the same situation as me. I don’t know how to describe it any other way except it’s my life and my wife, ”Lewis says. “I fight them both now with my wife, with Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. “
Lewis is Pauline’s primary caregiver. The job, while happy to do it, can be emotionally and mentally draining.
“She’s improving every day, a little less well, but I wanted to find someone to sit down with and just shoot the breeze because it gets tired,” he says.
Lewis decided to start an Alzheimer’s support group in Lake City to provide support to caregivers.
“We’re here to try to support people like me,” Lewis says. “We often sit around a house and there are things you would like to do, but there is no one to talk to.”
Lewis says the idea started a few months ago before contacting the Alzheimer’s Association to help them start a group.
“I’m just trying to do my best not only for myself, but for everyone in this situation,” he says. “If you knew someone who had the disease and had someone take care of them, you would understand what it does. It’s just to have someone to talk to. It doesn’t have the same feelings, but the same idea of how to deal with it. “
Lewis learned that his wife could live in a nursing home, but he would not have thought about it.
“Sixty-two years ago, I made a wish when I got married. Until death do us part. And that’s where I am, ”Lewis says. “My wife is better than [my] cane, I’ll put it like that. But it’s my vow to support her and love her until death do us part. So I’ll always stick to that.
On Friday, caregivers were invited to attend an introductory session at the Lake City Senior Center. They were greeted by the Alzheimer’s Association Northern Michigan Chapter Program Coordinator, Susan Evans. She was able to give some tips on how to interact with someone living with Alzheimer’s disease.
The next Alzheimer’s support group meeting will be on Friday, Jan. 7 at 1 p.m. at the Lake City Senior Center after the holidays.