I am a Physician and psychiatrist, and my wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease at 65 years of age. I was aware of her having problems 2+ years earlier. My wife is/was a gifted clinical social worker who has been loved by all who have known her. Even now, she draws people towards her despite having severe aphasia. I have gone from being a senior clinician who treated patients with Alzheimer's Disease to a loving and grieving caretaker for my girlfriend of 52 1/2 years.
Initially, there was a new and different form of intimacy. We had a special kind of closeness, sharing, and collaboration. Knowing her as I do, we were able to arrive at common understandings whenever she "hit the wall" mid sentence. The inexorable toll that Alzheimer's has exacted during her participation as a subject in two failed research treatment studies as well as my own present role as a control subject in a radioactive Tau protein identifier in PET scans study has redefined aspects of our lives without changing our closeness. I hate the illness but wouldn't want to be kept from providing care for my wife. As Pat Summitt (the extraordinary former Univ. of Tennessee Lady Vols) and her son Tyler have learned, real caring is a challenge but also incredibly gratifying. That being said, there is nothing glorious about this illness. The longer we live, the greater the likelihood that we will each develop dementia which increases progressively with age. If we don't direct more resources towards the early identification and treatment of Alzheimer's disease, global society will bear an impossible financial and emotional burden.