Jan 182013
 

GettyImages_3200587_DearAbbyPauline Phillips, the woman you probably all know as Dear Abby and who wrote under the name Abigail Van Buren, was never afraid to bring tough topics into public discussion. Alzheimer’s disease was no exception.

In 1980, long before her own diagnosis with this devastating disease, she brought dementia into the spotlight when she published a letter from a woman who had recently learned her 60-year-old husband had Alzheimer’s.

The woman, who signed her letter “Desperate in New York,” wanted guidance on how to cope. She felt isolated and helpless. She needed information.

Dear Abby’s reply began, “You are not alone.”

And she wasn’t.  At the time, it was felt that Alzheimer’s disease was a major epidemic in the United States.  Today, it is estimated to afflict more than 5 million people.

Dear Abby directed her to the Alzheimer’s Association, a newly formed group that came together to assist people with the disease and their families, raise awareness, advocate for state and federal help, and increase government funding for research in hopes of finding treatments and a cure. My personal involvement with the Association resulted from the fact that my father, three of his brothers and two of his sisters died from Alzheimer’s disease.  In addition, in 2012 one of my cousins died from this disease.

At the time Dear Abby wrote to ‘Desperate in New York,” I was president of the New York Chapter as well as secretary/treasurer of the National Alzheimer’s Association. The national headquarters were run out of my law office in New York City, and my staff and I were fielding calls for information and referrals.

Within two weeks of the Dear Abby column being published,  we were inundated with more than 22,000 pieces of mail requesting information. Dear Abby put Alzheimer’s disease in the public spotlight and put the Alzheimer’s Association on the map.

In the years to come, Mrs. Phillips continued to raise Alzheimer’s awareness, publishing numerous Dear Abby columns that connected those needing support to Association resources. Then, 15 years after first bringing the topic to readers across the globe, Mrs. Phillips – a woman known for her strong intellect and straight-talk – began showing signs of the disease.

Yesterday, after living with Alzheimer’s for more than a decade, she passed away at the age of 94.

Mrs. Phillips once wrote: “The purpose of life is to amount to something and have it make some difference that you lived at all.”

When Alzheimer’s disease finally becomes a distant memory, when a cure is discovered, Mrs. Phillips will be right on top of the list of  people who humankind will owe it’s gratitude for ridding the world of this terrible disease.

The difference she made is profound. By encouraging people to talk and providing information when it was needed, she changed lives.  She let those living with Alzheimer’s know they aren’t alone. By spreading awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, she helped enable the Alzheimer’s Association to get public funds to help and support families, educate caregivers, and increase the research budget from about 2 million in 1980 to more than 450 million today.

I wish to express my personal condolences to the family and appreciation to Mrs. Phillips for everything she has done to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease.  May she rest in peace.

Lonnie Wollin

About the Blog Author: Lonnie Wollin is an attorney in New York and one of the founders of the Alzheimer’s Association. He remains actively involved with the organization.

Resources

  69 Responses to “Dear Abby A Voice For People Facing Alzheimer’s Long Before Own Diagnosis”

  1. What I find very interesting is that, even when Mrs. Phillips was quite advanced into Alzheimer’s disease, there was still “more there” than people would realize. In this article, http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/DrJohnson/story?id=1280… Mrs. Phillips’s son describes how, even though her official diagnosis was never shared with her, Mrs. Phillips showed she knew and understood what was happening to her.

    • I think it helped a great deal to her and to others that she knew of the disease and was prepared for it. My father has it and I hope I can handle it as well as she can.

  2. Thank you Mrs. Philipps and Mr. Wollin. My father is suffering from this disease and it is truly heartbreaking…. To all the staff and members of the alzheimers association, our sincerest gratitude. God bless you all.

    • I had to take a medical retirement as a school counselor due to memory loss. Fortunately, I am doing well, but really miss the students. I certainly wish I could return to school.
      I keep praying that eventually there will be a cure!

      • Unfortunately, I had to retire from Kings Junior High as a school counselor, due to memory issues. I have been crushed that I cannot work with the students any longer. I miss the students very much!
        Overall, I am doing well. I am taking Aricept and Namenda.

  3. My colendenses to the passing of Mrs. Phillips. Know as Dear Abby! Not aware of her Diagnosis. Of Alzheimer's Disease. Till a couple of Months ago. But she knew what was happening to her though. And she was okay with that….I'd admire Dear Abby! For who she was….A very nice person to know….Her work….And her Family!

  4. My mother has Alzheimer's. It has been difficult for our family. Reading to my mother has helped both her and me. You can view videos of what I did at http://ReadingToMyMother.com

  5. Thank you Mrs. Phillips for helping so many people through out the years. I still have several clippings that have been special to me. I never thought that my Mother would have Alzheimer’s Disease. There are days and nights that I do not know what to do. Thank God you realized your purpose early in life and you definitely left a lasting impression in the world by helping so many people. Rest in peace. I know there is no Alzheimer’s in heaven. Thank yo to the Alzheimer’s Association for all the information you provide. On the many nights I cannot sleep, I am reading a story on the web site. God bless!

  6. My father passed last month from Alzheimer's. In an effort to deal with his passing, I have created a blog about my jpourney of losing him. Please read, comment, relate, and bless you! http://livingalovelylife.weebly.com/blog.html

    • I just read your blog and it is beautiful. Keep writing and I will keep following. I too just lost my father to Alzheimer's on December 26, 2012 after a bumpy November and December. We discovered his disease about 5 years ago. Your stages are so truthful. I am thankful that he never got to the part where he did not remember me, my son and I were the only family members that he did remember at the end. Thank you for your words and keep up the good writing. Bless you and everyone who is dealing with this unforgiving disease either as the afflicted or as a caregiver. This disease is becoming very prevalent in our society and I am going to see just where I can make my mark in helping others along their journey. The more of us out there supporting each other the better.

  7. Bless all who are going through this with a loved one, or those of you whom have survived this. I have written a blog about my journey with Alzheimer's, and will continue to do so, even though my love, my Father was taken by it last month. Bless you all in your journeys as well!!!

  8. MY MAMA N DADDY HAD IT, AND I THANK THOSE EVERY DAY MAKING PROGRESS TOWARDS CAREGIVER SUPPORT, EARLY DIAGNOSIS, PREVENTION AND CURE.

  9. Muchas gracias a todos por su gran labor, mi madre padece esta enfermedad desde hace 7 años y se lo que es ir perdiendo la noción del tiempo y el reconocimiento.

  10. Look for a ALZ walk in your area this fall to help fight this!

  11. 32 years ago we knew about the disease. I perceive not much progress has been made since then. Namenda, Aricept and a patch to slow down the process. Exercising and a healthy diet may help, but still no solutions. The AIDS epidemic was identified 30 years ago and you do not hear of many people dying from it anymore. This disease is utilizing so many resouces. But then on the other hand many jobs are being created aren't they? It is a travesty that more has not been done. And early onset, not even close to a cure.

    • Joan, it is sad that more can't be done, but AIDS and Alzheimer's disease are two very different diseases. AIDS is caused by a virus, something that is foreign to our system, something that we can directly attack and kill/control with a cocktail of antiviral agents. Alzheimer's disease? The most common risk factor for Alzheimer's disease is aging! The "causes" are varied and complex. There's nothing to attack and kill. Alzheimer's disease is our own biological system breaking down to cause dementia and disease. There's no conspiracy to keep us scientists employed… believe me, as someone who's watched the slow mental and physical decay and ultimate death of a loved one, I want more than anything for there to be a 'cure'. I don't believe we'll ever find one. I believe we will get better at treating the symptoms and delaying the onset or progression of the disease, but I don't think we'll cure it, and that breaks my heart.

  12. I have taken the Memory Walk since 2002. My adopted mother had Alzheimer's. It was devastating. A cure seems elusive, but they are doing research. It will be an epidemic with so many Baby Boomers retiring (I am a Baby Boomer, but not retiring). God bless, Dear Abby for keeping the public so well informed. I know a few people who have it including the care taker of my apartment. She is so nice. I hope we can eliminate it.

  13. Pauline Phillips will be dearly missed!! What an inspiration!!

  14. I lost my mother to this ugly disease 5 months ago at the age of 63, and she had battle this disease for several years prior. I encourage all how can help in any way to do so.

  15. She was a brave women. I work with residents who has both dementia and Alz. It is a challenge and a very serious illness that is best treated early in life. I just pray that they find a cure.

  16. My Mother died from alzheimer's or dementia one. I am very afraid that my younger sister has it, as well. I have concern
    every time I forget something that I will be a victim of this terrible disease. I would appreciate any information I could get on the subject.

  17. 16 years ago my brother died of AIDS. 6 months after his death the protease inhibitor cocktails came out. Today any one infected with HIV can live a long, healthy productive life. It broke my heart that my brother died just a few months before these drugs became available. I desperately tried to get him into one of these drug testing programs but to no avail. I cried with a deep sense of grief and loss and felt frustrated and angry that he missed out. He was only 35 when he died. Just starting his life really…

    7 years ago my mom was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The articulate, outspoken, feisty mom I knew, now mumbles and thinks I am her niece. Again, drug testing programs are hard to come by in her area, where it is easy to bring her. I recently learned that Alzheimer’s is being called Type 3 Diabetes and insulin drug testing programs are proving to be successful. Also a pacemaker for the brain, is being developed to slow its development. But these breakthroughs are not coming quick enough. My mom is withering each moment as her brain becomes more ravaged with the disease.

    My fear? That 6 months after she passes, these treatments will come to fruition, and like my brother, she will have missed the opportunity to reverse this disease and enjoy her old age – walking and bathing herself like normal people do and cooking the yummy Italian food that I was raised with. But if we let her try to cook something right now, the results would be disastrous.

    Last year I published a book called “Recipes to Remember – My Epicurean Journey to Preserve My Mother’s Italian Cooking from Memory Loss” – http://www.recipestoremember.net. I am donating a portion of net proceeds to the Alzheimer’s association. Like AIDS, we must END this epidemic. Like Dear Abby, I am an advocate to raise the flag on this disease and prevent it as well as cure it. Like AIDS, we must stop the shame associated with this grueling disease that forces people to become house bound and disconnect from the rest of the world.

    Just like I told my brother when he was suffering with all the side affects if the AIDS virus, I tell my mom but she doesn’t understand – please hang in there! A cure will be found! I hope she breaks the family pattern and lives to see it. My brother wasn’t so lucky.

    • Thank you for your info. I hope this new treatments become known by Dr.s SOON !!! We need more info daily!!!

    • HI BARBARA,

      YESTERDAY I FOUND SOME VERY INTERESTING INFO ON USING 5000 IU OF VITAMIN D3 AND USING THE SPICE TUMERIC ON FOOD. YOU CAN GOOGLE IT TO GET 1ST HAND WHAT I READ. ALSO THERE IS SOME VERY INTERSTINF INFO ON USING ORGANIC COCONUT OIL TO FUEL THE BRAIN. GOOGLE THAT AS WELL. TRY IT ALL. CAN'T HURT!!!

  18. my husband has demenia he is only 57 years old and is in the second stage if you call it that. i always feel there is not enough help. its very hard for our family. i know he is to the point of needing a place for someone to take care of him all the time. i keep hitting dead ends. sad in pa.

    • Having a 57 year old spouse with AD is tragic, being told your loved one is "too young" to get the help they need (either from a geriatric psych doctor, a residential care facility, or anyone else) adds insult to injury. My heart goes out to you Sad in PA as I had the same battle. My husband passed away last Friday (January 18,2013) and I am now on a mission to raise awareness of the need for resources for those individuals that have AD and are under the age of 65.

      • Early-onset Alzheimer's can be especially difficult finding or qualifying for assistance. My mom also had that. Symptoms became noticeable at 46, passed away at 52. One thing that helped my dad was that my mom qualified for veteran's benefits. Being a woman also helped–it put her ahead on some lists. If your husbands were in the military, try looking into veteran's benefits.

        My sympathies go out to both of you, as well as everyone else affected by Alzheimer's Disease.

  19. My husband was 55 years old when he got Alzheimer's, I took care of him for 10 years at home. but now I had to put him in a nursing home…I t is the worse disease there is, because you lose a part of them everyday. I go to see him, but he does not know me anymore, but somewhere down deep in his heart I know he still loves me as much as I love him.

    I still go to the Alzheimer's meetings……hoping I may help someone else through this awful disease..

  20. Doe anyone know if her letters and columns regarding Alzheimer's Disease have been gathered and published into a book? My Mother-in-Law was diagnosed about 5 years ago, who has loved Dear Abby for years, would love to read it, and/or have us read a book such as this to her.

  21. I'm a caregiver for Alzheimer patients and I now work with a company called HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE. We hlep people and their families dealing with this terrible disease. I've had an aunt who resently passed from it and am presently hleping a family who's wife/mother has early on set, she's in her 50's. It is a very heartbreaking time for them. I've hleped families who just need some time for themselves get a few hrs to themselves since I was 19yr old. My first family was back in 1980 when the medical community was just finding out about how this disease is different than just the 'ol dimentia. I pray for all who have it and are dealing with this in their families every day and most for a cure! God Rest the soul of this dear lady ,DEAR ABBY, she was one of my fav people.

  22. Very inspiring.

  23. I have informative article and until last week when "Dear Abby", loved by myself and many others I am grateful that she made
    Alzheimer's more understandable to the rest of us remain behind. She did indeed make a large "mark" on society in
    making this disease come to light to all of us who remain and may have to deal with this ourselves or other loved ones
    in our families.

  24. My husband was 60 when we discoverd he had AD but I believe this started alot earlier because he was fired from his job in 2005. It has been 3 yrs now.and like everyone says you lose a little bit of them everyday. My husband says it's his mission not to get hit by a bus and waiting for a cure. I laugh and then I cry. I pray for everyone out there that is dealing with this terrible disease. God Bless

  25. My name is Kimberly Ware and I have been a volunteer for the Alzheimer's Association for about 4 years. I have been an avid Dear Abby fan for more years than I can count. I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the family of Pauline Phillips. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers and that we share your grief.

  26. I want to thank Dear Abby as well as The Alzheimer's Association.
    My Aunt passed away after a several year struggle from this baffling disease.
    Since she lived away from me,I was spared seeing my once vivacious Auntie
    go through every level and phase.Unfortunately,I never got to tell her things I
    wish I could have by being away…
    I did take care of a very dear friend who contacted another form of Dementia,brought
    on by drinking Alcohol and having Diabetes.(Wernike-Korsakoff Syndrome).He
    was just 54 when that happened.
    I had to get information to know how to care for him in a hurry.
    The Alzheimer's Association-Dallas Chapter was of more help than I could ever
    thank them for.
    They never treated My dear friend's disease any differently from any of the other
    Dementias,although some in the town did judge.People can be cruel.
    Thank you for being there the nights I needed to talk to someone who knew the
    heartbreak and yet the rewards of caring for a loved one with this.For all the pamphlets
    and invaluable wealth of information and a live person on the other end of the phone
    when I just needed to talk to a kindred spirit who knew…
    I am now educating myself about it still,as knowing my Father's Sister died from such
    a cruel disease,it could visit my family once again.I want to know all the latest news
    and treatments and this is surely the right place for education,advocacy,and that much
    needed support…
    Blessings to You All,
    Elissa

  27. The cause and cure are indeed elusive. But how long did it take to link a bacterium with stomach ulcers? We may be surprised someday when the answer at least to cause, if not to cure is discovered. God bless all who are currently sufffering from the disease and whose lives are impacted by it. And may those researchers striving to solve its mysteries be inspired. Man has made remarkable discoveries in regard to the cause, prevention and treatment of disease in the last century and a half. A study of the history of medicine is illuminating. Hope and perserverence will be rewarded with progress toward conquering or at the least a greater understanding of factors complicit in its cause. Until then may all be strengthened to endure the ravages wrought by it.

  28. My wife was diagnosed at age 59 and just turned 66. She is now in a memory care facility as I could no longer give her the care she needed and deserved. It is a terrible disease and tough to watch the progression and the effects it has on the person. She was a vibrant woman, always smiling and active in church and many activities. It is so unfortuate that my grandchildren do not remember my wife not having this disease and now would rather just remember her like she was and not visit with her. I reall cannot blame them. I hope and pray that someday a cure will be discovered because it seems that many people are being diagnosed at a much earlier age. It is not just an old persons disease.

    • No, that’s what a lot of people do not understand. It is not just a disease that older people get. I was just reading about a man who was diagnosed at the age of 36. I will keep your wife, and anyone suffering from this horrible disease, in my prayers.

  29. Thank You to Dear Abby and her daughter who is continuing with knowledgeable information. I have read her column since I was old enough to read. I also received info an boys, acne, dating etc. And I also have a mother who has passed now but she and both of her parents had Alzheimer's.. It is so devastating when people don't know how to deal with a parent that has this terrible disease. Thank you Dear Abby for being there to give the right advice. Bless you and all of yours.

  30. My dad padded away in June of 2012, it was at the end that when he spoke you just had to agree with whatever he said, so he wouldn't get upset. My mother is in the same care facility for she has had 5 brain surgeries and from these surgeries she has developed this awful disease, but she is in high spirits majority of the time. I pray that a cure is developed soon for those who are starting to go through this dreadful disease.

  31. My 93 year old mother passed away in April, 2011 after a seven year battle with Alzheimer's. I was legal guardian and sole caregivever. I have always followed Dear Abby and my thoughts and prayers go to Pauline Phillips family. I thank her for addressing this terrible disease. My mom was on a dementia unit and the staff certainly understood Alzheimer's. Not everyone does. While visiting with my mom daily, I saw few families visit their loved ones. I am now a volunteer on the dementia unit where my mom lived. It's time for me to 'give back'. My mom was fortunate to have me visit her and now I have the opportunity to make 'new friends'!! We all want to feel loved and validated!! Age or disease shouldn't make a difference in that concept!! This disease strikes men and women, young and old. We could be next!!

  32. Thank you to Dear Abby and the Association for the information and assistance they give to patients as well as care givers. When my brother in law came to live with us, we quickly realized that he was not as sharp as he used to be. It has been 7 years in our house and now is in the most difficult stages at the end. The information is needed for people to talk about it and pay attention to older people they know…

  33. Thank you for this beautiful article on someone I felt close to, by way of her column.

    She did so much good for humanity.

  34. My beloved boyfriend has dementia; I have not seen any articles to describe our situation. Almost 7 months ago, after 7 years of being together, his daughter kicked me out of his life, not allowing me to visit him. I was led to believe that he recognized no one. Then on December 20, I heard through the grapevine that she wanted to "get back on with her life" and he was moved to an assisted living home. I called the place, he wanted to talk to me, he invited me to visit, which I did. I was told that my visits improved his socialization. prior to our re-connection, I was told that he had been sad, lonely & depressed. He did not know why his kids had taken away his home, his freedom, his girlfriend. I now know how gay people feel in these types of situations.
    For four beautiful weeks, we either spoke on the phone or visited personally. And then last Friday, I was told that I could no longer communicate with him. I am heartbroken for him, because it seems to me that she is just trying to hasten his death.
    I pray for an end of this horrible disease.

    • Your story is tragic as mine is. Sometimes good, caring, pure honest people can never understand why others do what they do to hurt you. …My story like yours I moved from NYC 6 years ago to care for my Mother who at 85 begged me to come help her. Never begged my 7 other siblings to come. My Dad was older and not capable of what she needed. We had an unbelievable bond speaking 3x a day with ease and love. None of my siblings were willing to put their lives on hold to give her the 24 hour care she needed to bring her back and help her live the best possible live considering the disease. She was very much in the confusion, frustrating stage and needed one on one help.

      I had 1 1/2 years of giving back to my amazing Mother. She thrived with my devotion to her. Started speaking again, exercising,learned to play cards again on her own. Was feeling like a something verses her old saying"I'm a nothing." Then the siblings had me thrown out of her home and had my elderly Father take me to court trying to get a Restraining Order against me so I could not see, talk or even write to my Mother. I spent the next 4 years being taken to court, the most devastating years of my life.Siblings lying under oath(just like Lance Armstrong) to benefit the outcome they wanted. My amazing Mother was taken from me. I could never give up on her. I knew she knew in her own mind something bad had happened to me and she blamed my Dad.

      Thru those long hard years I trained for Marathons and joined the Alz. Association Run 2 Remember team in NYC. I run to honor my Mom and bring awareness to the disease. I have lost my Mother thru dysfunctional siblings and an elderly Father being manipulated into a Court System that does not recognize protecting an Alzheimer's person who is an adult/child. My Mothers memory is childlike and never was allowed to voice her wants.

      Like your boyfriend, my Mother asked for me. Know in your heart your loved one cares of you, but is kept from you. It is heart breaking, tragic and unbelievable my own siblings could take our family down a very dark path. Mom would never had allowed this that is why I still fight for her today. I call her home to get hung up on. Caregivers are told to hang up on me. I fly across country to San Diego and have the door un answered orI'm threaten to get off the property. Police can't help. Almost 5 years now all I can do is send my Mom beautiful cards with pictures of my life now and photos of us together in the past. Who knows if she gets them, but making them bring joy to my day. One nice caregiver( who no longer has a job) had told me my Mom sits in her chair at night and holds my cards. I know she still thinks of me

      Today I can say my team has earned over 1 million dollars. I have learned much thru my teammates and coaches who have all been touched personally by Alz. in a tragic way. It is a terrible disease and if you can find a way to give back I think it will help your pain as it has healed much of my heart. I now think of the great memorize with my Mom and forget about those who hurtfully and maliciously caused so much pain. Jealousy is a nasty thing. You may have threatened your boyfriends family.

      I was told in a home, I could not be turned away from visiting my Mom.I wonder why you are? My siblings so far have not done that I'm sure to keep her from me. I've been told to walk away but can't. It's my Mom and instead I try to focus on the positive things we shared together. My best friend was my Mom. Hang in there and don't let the nasty ones destroy you. It is easier said and has taken me many years of disbelieve to finally except not all people are good and caring and know how to do the right thing. Alzheimer disease took my Mom from me and destroyed my big family. It is the worst disease ever. I miss my Mom so much. Try to stay strong.

  35. Pauline Phillips (Dear Abby) did so much to help everyone. I wrote to her when in the throes of "deep, dark depression" – I have Bipolar Disorder. She steered me to Recovery, Inc. in 1963, and that organization has grown into Recovery International with meetings all over the US and in many foreign countries. I have been a member ever since. I've been a Group Leader, an Assistant Group Leader, and I can't say enough about that organization. It works hand in glove with NAMI.

  36. My husband was diagnosed with ALZ at 63. He was founding partner of a large CPA firm. Had to retire we were told not to
    Tell him ALZ. Short term memory loss. He said if he had it he would kill himself. He is taking Namenda & exelon patch &
    Coconut oil. This is the hardest thing to deal with. I am on OX 24-7 & he was helping me. I would like to find a support team
    Close to me. I cried a lot . In denial. We have 2 wonderful children that are helping us. It is fear of what's next. He seems stable
    Now. A lot of things that are age related. But things that are not

  37. i have work with alzeimer and have 4yr a nd 4hr of trainng and will always support alzheimer and get all the trainng i can get went it close to me my naomi brown

  38. Thanks for this article. As a person who teaches Alzheimer's classes, I can certainly credit Mrs. Phillips with what she has done to eliminate Alzheimer's disease. Also, my appreciation to the Alzheimer's Association for all the work you do.

    I have watched as people have died with this disease…my late husband's mother.. and her five sisters .my current husband's mother, and I have held the hands of so many who have had this disease and tried very hard to make their lives a little better as best I could.

  39. Thank you. My mother had directives in her will to not prolong her life by artificial means but the Alzheimers was equally horrible. Let's hope we can combat this terrible disease.

  40. Pauline Phillips was a straight talker and a remarkable woman, ahead of her time in many ways. I didn't know that she suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and wish that there would be more attention in the press to the "rich and famous" who are coping with this disease. What strikes me about the comments here are how many people mention loved ones whose first symptoms were recognized in their 50's. According to national statistics, only 250,000 people have early-onset dementia. But everytime I read posts on this site and elsewhere, people are talking about caregiving a relatively young spouse or relative with the disease. I suspect the real number is much, much higher–and obviously, early onset AD and other dementias has an immense economic impact, pulling people out the the workforce, both as sufferers of the disease and as caregivers. Can we have some better demographic studies on early onset? Please?

  41. NUESTRO MAS SENTIR POR LA PARTIDA DE LA SEÑORA PHILLIPS LA CUAL HIZO UNA GRAN LABOR POR LA ENFERMEDAD DE ALZHEIMER QUE DESCANSE EN PAZ.

  42. So sad, I had no idea that Dear Abby suffered from the horrific disease of dementia. My mom and dad have it both in very different stages. Mom is well advanced and had been diagnosed at age 72 with multiinfarct dementia and Dad is just starting with senile dementia. What a touching story.

  43. I have always liked to read Dear Abby My. Mom has lived with my husband and me going on five years because she has alz. I think she is in the late stages but am not sure. She is not able to carry on a conversation any more and usually just mumbles. She forgets where the bathroom is and goes in other places. Some days I am at my wits end and don’t know what to do but go in another room and cry. My husband is a lot of help but it is so hard in him and our marriage. Sure could use some ideas. I have gone on the Alz. Website many times.

  44. I wish someone would spread the word about Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). It is a disease that is not very well know by the average medical professional and not really understood by anyone who has not lived the nightmare of it. It can take YEARS for a correct diagnosis to be made. It affects people as young as in their 20's, but mostly affects those in their 50's and 60's ("early dementia"). There are a few variants of FTD; one is behavioral and another is semantic. My sister who I am a caregiver of has both. Please check out the Association for Frontotemporal Dementia at: http://www.theaftd.org/
    Many people assume that FTD is the same disease as Alzheimer's and that FTD is rare, and as the baby-boomers come of age (50-65 years old) they are assumed to have Alzheimer's instead of FTD and are misdiagnosed which can have catastrophic affects on the sufferer and their family.
    Thank you "Dear Abby", for having reached out to us about so many important topics over so many years. You are revered by many.
    Victoria C.

  45. You never know how far the reach of one individual, one organization will be. It becomes the ever growing circles on water after a stone is dropped. Four years ago Thanksgiving night, my mother passed away a mother, grandmother with Alzheimer's. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her and all she taught her family especially in those final years. Blessings to Pauline and her family, for the countless lives she touched, the lessons she taught us and how she made the world a better place today, than it was yesterday. May God and His angels hold her close.

  46. My Dad has early onset alzheimers – and its sad. Today we were working in the garden together and we had to repair the water supply to allow him to water the plants tonight. He couldnt remember why we were in the garden or what pipe fittings we needed even though I had told him several times. He is going to town tomorrow to get the connections but im not sure if he will remember why… At least mum is there for him and will help. Why does someone who was such a strong and huge figure in my life have to go down this track…. why??????? How can I support mum? What have we got coming up? What can I expect? Thoughts and comments will be welcome

  47. I'm a legal guardian and sole caregiver to my 88 year old Mother who has been battling with Alzheimer's for 15 yrs. I wish to express my personal condolences to the family and appreciation to Mrs. Phillips for everything she has done to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease. May she rest in peace. I have always followed Dear Abby and my thoughts and prayers go to Pauline Phillips family.

  48. There simply are no words to explain the empathy I have for all that are or will be touched by this dreaded disease! So many stories and different situations – Thank You to all who have given of themselves through Care, Teaching, Companionship or any other way with someone having AZ or their families. GOD BLESS ALL. My husband was diagnosed in 2006 at 63 years young. Ironically, his body is very healthy, pleasant in social gatherings – but according to the Cognitive Therapist – his memory is gone! His walking has become a shuffle and can't go far – hates the walker – but when a wheelchair becomes necessary, there will have to be help – as I can't lift a chair. The next steps are so emotional and feelings of selfishness becomes a issue for me when I think of placing him in Assisted Care. This disease humbles us all and my / our strength can ONLY come from God – because I certainly don't have the capability on my own. THANKS to everyone helping – from Dear Abby to the Alzheimer's Association. Again, may God be with us all.

  49. I enjoy reading every columns from "Dear Abby" for 25 years. My dear mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer disease since 2006. I did not visit her for 7 years due that she lives overseas. When I went a last summer with my kids I was chocked.
    She did not recognized us. I am so sad and helpless. I do not know what to do and how to approach this difficult matter she is only 74 years old. She is very sweet and gentile sometimes she will follow up with the conversation and reply, but sometimes she is lost.

    Nabila,

  50. As a nurse I have given one of Dear Abby letters to families of Alzheimer's dealing with guilt. The letter was so encouraging to them. Thank you Dear Abby. You will be missed. Judy J.

  51. My mother passed away 3 years ago with Alzheimer's. My father was her primary caregiver. She was affected with the disease for 6 years. She fortunately also had congestive heart failure. That took her quicker than the Alzheimer's. Daddy did not have her tested for many years because he didn't want to know. He had no one to help him take care of her. I don't know if it's because of the generation that they were raised in that you keep certain afflictions to yourself and you cover it up. I think if he knew of any association and of the caregivers help he would have taken it. He was a very proud man and loved her with all his heart and soul. They were married for 53 years when she passed. I really don't think he saw any of "Dear Abbey's" letters. That would have helped him so much. No caregiver should have to go through this alone. My heart and prayers go out to all the caregivers who feel like they are doing this alone.

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  53. As a nurse I have given one of Dear Abby letters to families of Alzheimer’s dealing with guilt. The letter was so encouraging to them. Thank you Dear Abby. You will be missed. LeaL

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  56. my dad is 78 he as alzheimer,s and his brother, one of his other brothers had it and one of his sisters, I think it is the worst ever thing in the world to get, watching day by day losing them a bit at a time, thank god he has my mam to look after him its very hard cus he cant walk any more, I make the most of seeing him, when I,m not working, its very precious time, so glad he still noes us. he as just started day care once a week give my mam a rest, he said he don't like it, but will go back next week and see how he goes lol. some times he,s so funny with the things he comes out with, but he,s always got a smile although he does say he wishes he could end his life because no one can ever imaging what its like and how his head feels god bless you all. make ever second count tyvm for reading my post.

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