My father started showing signs of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) at the age of 54. He hid them, somewhat successfully, for a few years. My mother took care of him at home for many years - until caring for him became overwhelming. He spent his last years in nursing homes with special Alzheimer's Disease units.
In 1992, during his illness, I wrote and produced an audiotape, The Alzheimer's Family Manual, to try to help other families dealing with AD in the family. I was asked to serve on the Board of the Santa Barbara Alzheimer's Association, and in that capacity, I gave talks to caregivers and support groups for a number of years. Not long after my father passed away, I took a break from this work.
Now, more than 20 years later, those of my friends who remember that I had done this work in the past – and are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease in their own parents - have started asking me many of the same questions that came up in support groups I worked with: What should they do with the diagnosis and their loved one?
The Alzheimer's Family Manual does not purport to be a scientific study of the disease, nor is it a treatise of any kind. The intent was to create a foundation for working with loved ones in the context of this illness – both patients and caregivers, as the diagnosis and its implications are terrifying. I wanted to help enable caregivers, in particular, and their support networks to quickly get up to speed on how to protect their loved ones who have been stricken with AD as well as each other.