beyond the video

The Jordans – A Family Faces Alzheimer's – The Downward Spiral

A story told over a seven year period that follows the devotion of a husband who deals with his wife's worsening Alzheimer's.

Video summary
This video sets the stage for the next video on making a decision to move a loved one to a nursing home. Here we are introduced to Everett and his wife Betty, who had been diagnosed with dementia about five years prior. In this first section, Betty's deficits are clear - she has visual perception difficulties (not knowing how to place a plate "there"), she's not sure a bra is hers while sorting laundry, and when told to sniff a flower, she smells Everett instead. Nevertheless, she clearly expresses her love for Everett and how much their relationship means to her. It's also obvious that there are light moments for them in the midst of dealing with dementia.

A year later, Everett acknowledges that the relationship has changed. He has become a caregiver, but holding her hand is still "magical."

Six years later, we see Betty again. She is being hand-fed by Everett in a nursing home. She is no longer able to walk or talk coherently and while totally dependent on others for all her needs, is unresponsive to Everett's ministrations.

Everett speaks movingly of how much he still loves Betty and how important it is to him to continue to care for her in ways that he can. He still holds her hand, and kisses her forehead. He also expresses how much he wishes he could just hold her and feel her arms around him again, a gesture she is no longer capable of making. In spite of Betty's deterioration, however, he tries to remain positive.

Applying the video to your own situation

  • In the first section of this video, it is clear that there is both laughter and love between Betty and Everett. Think about your own relationship and what you do (or could do) to keep those light moments happening.
  • Everett continued to see himself primarily as a husband rather than as a caregiver until about six years after Betty was diagnosed. Think about the meaning the word "caregiver" has for you as opposed to being the child or spouse of your loved one. Do you see yourself as a caregiver? If so, what prompted that change of view in your relationship?
  • When Betty reached the advanced stage of Alzheimer's disease, Everett continued to feed her, do her laundry, and kiss her forehead. If your loved one is in the advanced stages of dementia, how have you chosen to continue to show your love?
  • Everett clearly misses the intimacy of his relationship with Betty - being hugged back. Think about what you miss and how you cope with your loss. (Remember to take good care of yourself; you are worth it!)

Adapted from: More Than A Thousand Tomorrows

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Beyond the Video

Everett speaks movingly of how much he still loves Betty and how important it is to him to continue to care for her in ways that he can.