By Roger Utnehmer
I turned the last page of Marty Schreiber's book, My Two Elaines, with tears in my eyes and a much deeper respect and admiration for Wisconsin's thirty-ninth governor.
His book is an emotional love story about dealing with his wife's struggle with Alzheimer's disease and his as her caregiver. It is as much a must-read self-help book for those who care about caregivers as it is for caregivers themselves.
Schreiber displayed a sensitivity to senior citizens during his service as Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin in early 1970's. He brought a high profile to the office often considered a sinecure by advocating for the rights of nursing home residents. His compassion which raised the profile of his office long ago is evident in My Two Elaines.
With more than 5.2 million Americans age 65 and older diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, this book will have a dramatic influence on not only those who give care but those who care about those caregivers.
Schreiber describes in personal detail the chronic stress that shortens the lives and increases the medical expenses of caregivers. "No matter how much you love your partner, you cannot take care of him or her if you do not take care of yourself first," says Schreiber.
The book is replete with sageful advice titled "What I wish I'd known" and "What I wish I'd done." It is a quick read with valuable application.
Former State Senator Tiny Krueger once said that of all the governors under whom he served, Marty Schreiber was his favorite. When you read him describe his love for Elaine and say that the high of being a husband, father and grandfather surpasses any thrill of being in politics or business you'll understand Tiny Krueger's respect.
Facing the impact of Alzheimer's disease will inevitably touch all of us. This book will help you be a better caregiver, if that is your challenge. As important, it will move you to care for the caregivers with more presence, sensitivity, understanding and compassion.
Marty Schreiber has lived an enviable life in politics and government relations.
From a small home on Milwaukee's northwest side, he went on to govern Wisconsin, watch his wife dance in the White House with the President of the United States and lead one of our state's most effective government relations firms. Today I admire him most for the loving care he gives Elaine and the gift of guidance he gives to others by writing My Two Elaines.