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Former Wisconsin governor’s book focuses on Alzheimer’s disease

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LA CROSSE— Former Wisconsin Gov. Martin Schreiber is on a mission to help caregivers avoid the pitfalls that come with caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

Schreiber has written a book, which chronicles his journey caring for his wife, called “My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver,” the La Crosse Tribune reported.

“As caregivers, we go through grief, anxiety, depression — all debilitating,” he said. “I want to make sure people understand that.”

Schreiber said he developed a series of symptoms, such as shortness of breath, fluid around his lungs and other maladies, cared for his wife when she began suffering from Alzheimer’s in 2008. Doctors couldn’t diagnose a cause of his health problems.

Schreiber said he’s worried that many medical professionals, health care workers and employers aren’t aware of the toll Alzheimer’s disease takes on families, particularly family members who serve in caregiving roles.

“My feeling as I look back is that I was suffering from depression and grieving,” said Schreiber, who added that his medical bills for treating stress-related conditions and seeking the cause were up to $360,000.

Schreiber said he is relieved he had the insurance and financial stability to be able to withstand such an economic blow.

“My heart goes out to people who don’t have the resources,” he said. “That’s why I say more people need to learn — employers and medical people — need to ask caregivers, ‘How are you doing?’ Employers need to say, ‘Oh my gosh, you’ve got a challenge. Would you like some time off to make some telephone calls?'”

The book’s proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Association.