Jane Gayer Blogs About Spouse’s Early Onset Alzheimer’s: The Adventures of Joe, and Al and Jane

About Jane Gayer, Alzheimer's blogger: Dementia City

J. Gayer - Blog CoverBy Jane Gayer

It doesn’t matter where we live, what religion we are, how much (or how little) we have, what language we speak or the color of our skin. Throughout the world, Alzheimer’s is the same monster and we are all just trying to figure out how to deal with it.

You couldn’t write a script with a more compelling storyline of love, laughter, sorrow and loss than what’s being lived right now by Alzheimer’s families around the globe.

This is our family’s story, simple and real.

My name is Jane and Joe, my husband of 35 years, was diagnosed with Dementia/Alzheimer’s about two and a half years ago.

I wouldn’t call myself a writer. In fact, I’m dyslexic, which makes writing an interesting challenge. My career was in business management. That fed my purse, but to feed my soul I was an abstract artist, designer, and an actor and director in Community Theater.

I can find humor in most things. To me life is a comedy, better set to music than tears. But I also know that sometimes life can be a dark comedy, filled with pain and loss. Someone said to me once, “Don’t you ever take anything seriously?” The answer, “Not if I can help it.”

I decided to personify my husband’s disease and call it “Al” thinking of him as our “uninvited guest”, the hanger-on, the guy who doesn’t know when to go home. So Al is a
metaphor, an image and symbol of what we must live with and struggle through every day.

I wasn’t sure writing a blog was the right thing to do. I worried it might somehow become an embarrassment or humiliation for Joe and for our family. I didn’t know how people would react to so much openness about our struggles; would they think I was trying to garner sympathy or indulging in our troubles?  Would writing about my life provide psychological relief, or would it make things worse?

I have always been able to see the humor in life’s experiences (good or bad) and laugh about them. But Alzheimer’s is serious business. Would I offend readers by making light of all the craziness that comes with it?

I decided I would have to focus on my own experiences with this disease, to speak solely from the point of view of a caregiver. I would never be able to feel what Joe was feeling, much less capture it in print.

I’ve often questioned what I write, fearing I might be in denial or becoming paranoid.  Are things really the way I think they are? (This disease can often play tricks on the caregiver.)

With that said, here I am, with 44 posts hanging out there in the vastness of cyberspace.  So I ask myself, “Would I do it again?”

The answer is simply, “Yes.”

This little blog is now read in over 25 countries. It truly is “Al” over the world. The responses from readers have been heart-warming, serving as a lifeline for me.

So welcome to our world, The Adventures of Joe and Al and Jane.

Jane GayerJane Gayer currently lives in Arizona with her husband Joe, but is an Oregonian at heart, having lived in the Northwest most of her life. The couple has four adult children and eight grandchildren spread around the country. Jane is retired from a successful career in high technology having managed a number of business entities. Throughout her life, she has maintained involvement with the arts as an abstract artist, designer and actor and director in community theatre. In 2013 she received a nomination for Best Dramatic Actress from Southern California’s Desert Theater League. She currently is a caregiver for her husband who was diagnosed with Dementia/Alzheimer’s in 2013.

Visit Jane’s blog: Dementia City

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6 Responses

  1. So heartfelt, so poignant! Jane and Joe had to make room for Al. He may have overstayed his welcome, but teaches us some important lessons about living with this horrendous disease. Well said, Jane!

  2. I love this! My family has used humor to navigate this journey as well – often proclaiming “I have to laugh or cry!” and trying to smile and laugh whenever possible.
    I’m glad you are sharing your story – the more people understand the better prepared they will be if ‘Al’ visits them or the more empathy and support they can give to others. 🙂

    1. Yes, you’re so right. Al was become part of our family for better or worse. The more we share the easier it has become to cope with his uninvited presence…for me, for Joe and for our friends.

  3. Thank you Jane for sharing your experiences with your husband exactly the way you want to. I’ve learned to see the bright side as well, since it can be dark business, as you say, because after the hard parts, we return to the “hope and laughter portion of our program” 🙂 and that carries me forward.

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