Jan 16, 2011

Alzheimer's Disease Changes More than a Parent

About forty percent of Alzheimer's caregivers are men. This is not a well known fact and surprises most people...

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I read a really wonderful article today in the Dallas Morning News. It is about a son who cares for his mother who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. It is written from the perspective of his sister.

Like me, Barry is the youngest of three children. Obviously, he is a man. About 40 percent of Alzheimer's caregivers are men. We are a large minority.


The caregivers arrived, first a few days a week, then every day when Barry realized he couldn't bear to bathe his own mother.


When I arrived in New Jersey so Barry could take his June vacation, I saw my childhood house with new eyes.

Barry showed me the breakers he turns off so Mom can't turn on the stove. He showed me the lock on the deck door so she cannot wander. He told me to turn on the classical music to help her wind down at night and what to listen for early in the morning or in the middle of the night when her mind will not let her sleep.

I once marveled that he knows all of this. Now, I rely on him to tell me how to help.


"Is Barry home?" she asks, the same question she has asked each of the six mornings I have been here.

This time, I say yes.

Soon after, my brother walks into the kitchen. My mother smiles and holds out her hands to him.

"Hi, Barry," she says.

This article has a lot of warmth, insight, and feeling.

Go read about Barry, his mom and his sister Karen.


On another note, Ron Reagan is in the news with revelations about his father and former President of the United States Ronald Reagan.

My Father at 100
My Father at 100

Ron is creating quite the storm with his revelation that he believes his father was suffering from Alzheimer's disease while in office.

Should this really be a big surprise?

Just about every Alzheimer's caregiver I ever met or talked to says they missed the signs of Alzheimer's long before diagnosis. But later after they knew more about the disease they could recognize many of the signs they missed -- in retrospect.

Was Ronald Reagan mild cognitively impaired or suffering from Alzheimer's disease while serving as President? I doubt we will ever know.

Is it possible that Ron, now looking back, now recognizes that there were signs of dementia? Probably.

Anything that brings awareness to the magnitude and breadth of Alzheimer's is a good thing. If nothing else this situation shows that Alzheimer's knows no boundaries.

Alzheimer's Disease -- Advice and Insight

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room