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Help Me! I'm Slipping: One Couple's Love Story Coping With Alzheimer's Disease

Help Me! I'm Slipping: One Couple's Love Story Coping With Alzheimer's Disease

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Help Me! I'm Slipping: One Couple's Love Story Coping With Alzheimer's Disease

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May 10, 2014


Theirs had been a love story, a story of friendship, courtship and marriage, beginning when she was seventeen and he was a dashing Navy officer. It was a fairytale that never ceased-even Alzheimer's couldn't come between them. Phyllis Brown relives this one-of-a-kind love she shared with her husband, Bert, in HELP ME! I'm Slipping. According to the Alzheimer's Association, there are many signs of the disease. The author noticed some of these signs in her husband, but she completely ignored them at first. A highly successful businessman, a gentle yet hardworking person who never stopped until he accomplished his goals, Bert was adept at hiding his memory loss. But as soon as it was confirmed that he had Alzheimer's disease, his wife went into action. Phyllis may not have been well-equipped with medical information and guidelines, but she was determined to give all her love and support to make the last years of Bert's life as happy as they could possibly be. HELP ME! I'm Slipping follows the author's difficult yet rewarding experience as she helps her husband through the uncharted waters of Alzheimer's. From her journey, she shares lessons that she learned with her readers. In each day, she found something they could enjoy together: moments of love, and even fun and laughter. From strategies for helping her husband maintain his dignity to tips on activities that can be enjoyed daily, this book provides a truly inspiring testament to a love that endures.

May 10, 2014

Sobre el autor

Phyllis R. Brown, PhD, Professor Emerita of Chemistry at the University of Rhode Island, has an international reputation for her research and publications in the field of analytical chemistry. She has written over two hundred articles in scientific journals and wrote or edited five books. She retired and became a caregiver when her husband of more than sixty years developed Alzheimer’s disease.

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Help Me! I'm Slipping - Phyllis R. Brown

Help Me! I’m Slipping: One Couple's Love Story Coping With Alzheimer's Disease

Second Edition


Help Me! I'm Slipping: One Couple's Love Story Coping With Alzheimer's Disease, Second edition

Published May, 2014

Copyright © 2013, Phyllis R. Brown

Smashwords Edition

Editorial and Proofreading Services: Aileen McDonough and Karen Grennan

Interior Layout and Cover Design: Howard Johnson, Howard Communigrafix, Inc.

Ebook Formatting: Maureen Cutajar

Photo Credits: Cover, Country Road with Maple, Shutterstock #128757305

Interior, Two hand silhouettes touching each other, Shutterstock #143340880

Published by SDP Publishing, an imprint of SDP Publishing Solutions, LLC.

For more information about this book contact Lisa Akoury-Ross by email at


All rights reserved. No part of the material protected by this copyright notice may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner.

To obtain permission(s) to use material from this work, please submit a written request to:

SDP Publishing

Permissions Department

36 Captain’s Way, East Bridgewater, MA 02333

or email your request to info@SDPPublishing.com.

ISBN-13 (print): 978-0-9899723-8-3

e-ISBN-13 (ebook): 978-0-9899723-9-0

Library of Congress Control Number: 2013951939

Help Me! I’m Slipping

To Bert


To our children, grandchildren, and

great-grandchildren who gave me strength with

their magnificent support during my journey

as a caregiver.


Thanks to all who encouraged me to write about my experiences as a caregiver for my husband when he had Alzheimer’s Disease, and to all those who read my manuscript and gave me feedback. Special thanks go to Rosanne Moffit, who was the first one to urge me to write this book; to Debbie Waldman who went over the manuscript and provided me with thoughtful suggestions; to my daughter, Judy, for patiently working with me and giving me such good advice. To Aileen McDonough for her editorial assistance in this second edition; and to Howard from Howard Communigrafix, Inc. for his creative cover design and interior design and layout. I would also like to thank the rest of the SDP Publishing team, including my publisher, Lisa Akoury-Ross. Also, thanks to the Alzheimer’s Association, which served as a great source of information for me. Most importantly, my extra-special thanks to Susan Lougee, for her support and encouragement over the years and during the course of writing this book. She patiently typed and retyped the manuscript, transforming it from a handwritten scribble to a professional looking book. She never lost her patience with the many changes I made in the process, and her input was invaluable. Finally, thanks to my family for the wonderful support they gave me over the difficult years of Bert’s illness.



Chapter 1 Our Story

Chapter 2 Signs of Change

Chapter 3 Sliding Down the Slippery Slope

Chapter 4 The Medication Roller Coaster

Chapter 5 The Four A’s of Coping

Chapter 6 My Attempts to Survive

Chapter 7 The Slope Gets Steeper

Chapter 8 The End

Eulogy For Bert Brown

Temple Emanuel—March 10, 2008

Chapter 9 A New Chapter Begins


Strategies and Tips for Family Caregivers

General Strategies and Tips

Specific Activities

Selected Bibliography


This is not a story of ice skating or slipping on ice, but a story of slipping down the slippery slope of Alzheimer’s disease, of aging, of the end of life. It’s a love story, an adventure story, a story of happiness and sadness, a true story, a story of hope and acceptance. It’s a self-help book for caregivers who have to face the inevitable—to help them get through the struggles of their mate’s last years with hope, laughter, and dignity, to help them survive difficult times with their lives intact so they can face a new chapter in their lives with courage and strength.

This story isn’t written by a professional, but by a caregiver. I’ve been there, and I want to share my experiences. Maybe they’ll make life a little easier, your day a little brighter. At the very least, it will give you some laughs and let you know you are not alone. Many others have been there and are there with you now. Some of the ideas I’ll share with you are not my own. I learned them from others wiser and smarter than I am. Some are things I did out of instinct or necessity. For each of you, the way will be different. Each person is special, each situation unique. But you may be able to use some of the ideas in this book that best suit you, and to adopt them for your own benefit.

The idea to write this book came to me one beautiful summer afternoon when I received a call from a friend whose husband had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She was devastated. Will you talk to me? she said. Several people had already asked me the same thing, either after their spouse was diagnosed with some sort of dementia or they started noticing memory failure in a loved one. There are many professionals or groups to which these people could turn, but some people are very private and didn’t want to participate in a group at that time. My husband of sixty-five years died recently. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about six years ago, but he sensed something was wrong a couple of years before that. Looking back, I had also begun to see symptoms of his memory failure. Of course, I denied anything was wrong; we all do at first.

Our story isn’t very different from the story of a lot of us who were born in the pre-Depression years. For the most part, we were a generation who married for better or worse, in sickness and in health and stayed together through thick and thin. We’ve been married fifty, sixty, or even sixty-five years, and so many of us have seen our spouses become ill and die. Most of our generation never thought we would become caregivers and were neither prepared nor trained to play this role. This book is written for past, present, and future caregivers, young and old, to help them find their way during this difficult journey. Unfortunately, there will be many of you in the years to come as the baby boomers age. I salute you, I wish you well, and I hope you find some tips to ease your burden and bring some comfort in knowing others have been there and survived, maybe different but intact.

Bert was starting to sleep more. He no longer read the newspaper; the television irritated him, and he didn’t want it on. He looked at magazines occasionally, but his attention span had decreased. However, he still liked to go outside, and we would walk around the meadow, a lovely area with a walking path in front of our building. He started using a walker whenever we went for a walk, but within the building he only used a cane. He also liked short rides, so he would come with me when I went grocery shopping or ran some errands. Sometimes, he would come in the market, and he enjoyed pushing the grocery cart. Other times, he would be tired and stay in the car while I did the shopping. But it wasn’t always like this.

Our story began when I was born. Bert was my uncle’s best friend and knew my parents when I was just a gleam in my father’s eye. When my mother and dad needed a babysitter, my uncle and his friends would come to the house to look after my sister and me. Of all the gang, I liked Bert best because he didn’t tease me, and he protected me from the ribbing a chubby little girl had to endure. Growing up, I heard about his girlfriends, and later, I was glad he did not have enough money to settle down with any of them along the way (and there were quite a few!). When I was six, he was sixteen, which was quite a difference, but when I was sixteen, Bert was twenty-six, and I had matured into a young lady. I went to Simmons College in Boston that year, and he was teaching at Northeastern University and doing graduate work at MIT. When I came into Providence for weekends in the early fall, several other girls and I would hitch a ride back and forth with Bert in his old jalopy. Somehow, I always ended up in the front seat. The other girls sat in the back. I later learned he should have let me off first, but I always was the last one he let off.

Within a month, we were dating, and when Northeastern had a dinner for the faculty in honor of the inauguration of a new president, Bert invited me to be his date. I was thrilled. Imagine a sixteen-year-old invited to such a prestigious event! I had to jump through lots of hoops to go. The dinner was on a Thursday night, and on weeknights the curfew at Simmons for freshmen was 7:30 p.m. It was necessary to go all the way to the dean of the college to get permission to attend the event and stay out until 11:30 p.m. Unfortunately, Bert’s father died that day, so we didn’t go to the inaugural dinner.

Since Bert taught chemistry, he was much in demand as a tutor in my dormitory. I was having a hard time with chemistry. I had passed the chemistry placement exam and was placed in a sophomore organic chemistry course. I didn’t know how to organize all the material and study for exams. But Bert came to my rescue by tutoring me over the Thanksgiving vacation; I went from a D on the midterm exam to an A on the final. He taught me how to organize the material, how to study for an exam, and how to deal with a college level course. He was a very good teacher. From then on, I never

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