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Martin J. Schreiber

Martin Schreiber

11 AM - Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer's Caregiver

More than two years ago, former Wisconsin Gov. Martin J. Schreiber began a campaign unlike anything he experienced while in office. Rather than seeking votes, Schreiber now works to recognize and support Alzheimer’s caregivers – an unpaid workforce that now exceeds 16 million people nationwide.

Schreiber's goal for caregivers (whom he calls heroes) is that they learn, cope, survive and even thrive during their difficult journey. Since late 2016, Schreiber has crisscrossed Wisconsin and traveled to 10 other states to help families, employers and healthcare providers understand the importance of counseling and other caregiver resources — support that de-stigmatizes the disease, reduces stress and alleviates guilt.

Whether in metro areas or underserved rural communities, he says that family caregiver concerns are the same. So, he listens to their stories, touches their hearts with compassion and always adds humor. Said one caregiver, "You saved my life."

Schreiber speaks about Alzheimer's caregiving because he's been there. The love story of Marty and his wife Elaine that began in the 1950s when they were high school freshmen began to take the cruelest of twists some 14 years ago. Wracked by Alzheimer's — but with Marty always at her side — Elaine has been transformed from the gracious former First Lady of Wisconsin into someone who now depends on family and professional help for all of her basic daily care. Yet, Marty and Elaine still find moments of joy through activities such as music and simply holding hands.

He lovingly tells their story in the acclaimed My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer's Caregiver. At 300 presentations and counting, Schreiber is building upon his legacy of work on behalf of older adults.

As lieutenant governor and governor, he led reforms for nursing home care oversight and helped develop Wisconsin's in-home Community Care Organization. In 2015, he collaborated with the State of Wisconsin and business groups to create the online Dementia-Friendly Employers Toolkit, which is now used by HR departments and employee assistance programs.

Selected Recognition for Schreiber and My Two Elaines:

  • 11th Best Alzheimer's Book of All Time (bookauthority.org)
  • #2 Senior Social Media Influencers You Should Follow, 2018 (currents.greatcall.com)
  • Best Caregiving Books of 2017 and 2018 (caring.com)
  • Headliner Award, May 2019 (Milwaukee Press Club)
  • Caregiver of the Week, August 2017 (The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement)
  • Special Service Award, May 2016 (Alzheimer's Association)
  • City of Milwaukee “Superhero”, January 2016 (Milwaukee Press Club)

My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer's Caregiver
(Book Publishers Network 2017; ISBN-10: 1945271213; ISBN-13: 978-1945271212)
Net proceeds from sales are used to promote Alzheimer's caregiver support programs

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