A Love Story that Inspires: Finding Strength in the Face of Dementia
Mark's love for Lisa began long before he even met her. In the 8th grade, he came across a portrait by Carl Owens and was captivated by the image. In that moment, he made a declaration to himself that he would marry a woman who resembled that picture. Little did he know that destiny had something extraordinary in store for him.
Years later, in 2014, Mark found himself looking at his wife, and in that moment of realization, he understood that he had indeed married the woman who resembled the portrait from his past. Their love story began to unfold, a love story that would endure and triumph over life's challenges.
Life had unexpected plans for the couple. In 2015, signs of Lisa's condition began to emerge, eventually leading to a diagnosis of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) when she was only 48 years old. Despite the devastating news, Mark stood by Lisa's side, assuming the role of her caregiver and embarking on a journey that would test their love and resilience.
For the past six years and counting, Mark has been there for Lisa, providing support with the activities of daily living day in and day out. Lisa's dementia necessitates increased care with each passing day, but Mark remains committed to involving her in their daily routines as much as it's possible and appropriate. He recognizes the therapeutic value of music and recently obtained an Amazon music subscription, enabling them to share the joy of listening to jazz together.
Mark's impact extends beyond his role as a caregiver. His involvement in the community as a former school counselor has left an indelible mark, evident in the support he receives from former students who continue to stand by him in caring for his wife.
Recognizing the importance of continual learning and growth, he attended a caregiving training program to acquire new solutions and strategies to address challenges that may arise. Engaging with numerous support groups, Mark has become an advocate for male caregivers and caregivers of color, aiming to share his knowledge and mentor others who are underrepresented in the caregiving community.
Through our conversation with Mark, his deep love and devotion for Lisa radiated brightly. Despite the relentless progression of her FTD, Mark maintains a positive attitude, emphasizing the importance of making peace with their reality. When he feels discouraged, he draws strength from the memories of their pre-dementia life and finds inspiration in the theme song from the movie "Rocky," fueling his determination to keep going.
Mark's inspirational spirit is further exemplified by his selfless intentions. With the CFTC Relief Grant, he took fellow caregivers out for meals, recognizing their invaluable support during his and Lisa's journey. Many of these caregivers have not had the opportunity to enjoy a meal outside their homes since before the pandemic, and Mark wants to share the gift of relief with his community.
Encountering individuals like Mark inspires us all to believe in the power of love, to face life's challenges with courage, and to share our gifts and experiences to uplift those around us.
Learn more about Care for the Caregivers
Pointing the Way and Offering a Helping Hand
"I was able to address my own health that I had been neglecting"
"I can go to church and monthly support group and know my mom is taken care of."
"I can take my husband to see his family one final time while he still can remember them"