Bob and Marlene's Story
When Bob Faulhafer met his future wife, Marlene, for the first time, they were sitting across the aisle from each other in a high school German class. Marlene, who became a professional singer, was taking the class to learn the language for German arias. Bob thought Marlene was beautiful, and several years later he convinced her to marry him. He and Marlene have been married for 57 years, have three grown children, and four grandchildren.
They are now facing one of the biggest challenges of their life together.
In 2008, Marlene was diagnosed with Alzheimer disease. A social person by nature, in the beginning, Marlene was able to cover up her memory lapses when meeting with family and friends.
The disease has now progressed to the point that Marlene can no longer be left on her own. She is anxious, particularly when Bob is not with her. The loss of her independence has been very difficult for her and hard on both of them.
To help each of them cope, Marlene attends the Seniors Day Program for people with dementia in Burlington three days a week. “I don’t know how I would survive without the day program,” declares Bob. “I really don’t! Because I can’t leave her alone, everything falls to me. It eats up the time pretty fast.”
Perhaps the greatest comfort for Bob is how much Marlene enjoys the program. As he says, “No matter what mood she is in when she arrives, she always comes out smiling.” Bob credits the specialized activities and the supportive staff, saying “you couldn’t get better people to run that program.”
Another benefit for her is that it keeps her active and involved socially. Many dementia sufferers and their caregivers often become more and more withdrawn as the disease progresses.
Bob has also taken advantage of Acclaim Health’s education sessions for caregivers. “I’m so glad those classes are available,” says Bob. “I am much better prepared for what might come. It also gave me some comfort to know that I was not alone and to learn how others are dealing with the difficult situations that arise.”
Many challenges remain but the support of Acclaim Health’s programs has helped Bob and Marlene through each hurdle. “They are an absolute necessity to us,” confides Bob.