My Dad was a tall, broad-shouldered, handsome man with a booming voice. There was no challenge he couldn't overcome. He met my mother at a party and was so smitten that although she turned him down multiple times for a date, he sent a colossal bouquet of roses every Friday anyway. It would then be impossible for my Mom not to think about him while she was out with whatever putz she'd said yes to. He also figured said putzes would see the altar-sized arrangements and throw in the towel. It worked. They did.
Many years of marriage and four grown kids later, his behavior began to change. He was forgetful - small things at first - dates, names, misplaced keys. Then other skills declined, such as his ability to cut his own food and dress himself. During this period he was still aware that he should know how to do these things. He was also aware that Alzheimer's had taken hold. His father, grandfather, and great-aunts and uncles all had it, and his younger brother would get it too. He'd seen the end-game and was terrified.
During this period, I was a healthcare analyst and knew of several clinical trials for Alzheimer's drugs. My Dad and I hadn't had a frank conversation about his condition. In fact, neither of us had ever mentioned the word 'Alzheimer's' or made a single comment about his declining mental state. It felt too scary to name it. But the time had come. I said, 'Dad, I want to talk to you about Alzheimer's.' I paused. 'We both know you have it.' His eyes were clear so I continued. 'I might be able to get you into a clinical trial. However, the side effects are unknown, and some of the trials have resulted in fatalities.' He held my gaze and with absolute lucidity said, 'anything has to be better than the future I'm looking at.' I took his hand and we sat together for a long moment, saying nothing, with tears running down our cheeks.
My Dad was a tall, broad-shouldered, handsome man with a booming voice. There was no challenge he couldn't overcome. Except Alzheimer's. Please help the over 5 million people affected by the disease, and those who love and care for them, by walking with us, making a donation, or both.