June 23, 2021

"Peter now needs constant supervision and does not appear to remember his second wedding."

"Soon Lisa will probably have to place him in a care home, but for now they can still live together. 'My mantra has always been to have no regrets,' said Lisa, who worked in radio advertising. The couple met in 2001 after both went through divorces while neighbours in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They have five children between them. When Lisa joined her husband to exchange vows for the second time, his delight was clear for all to see. 'It was just magical — straight out of a fairytale,' she said. She said the second wedding created indelible memories. As they danced while guests looked on, Lisa said her husband whispered a few words in her ear. 'Thank you for staying,' he said."

From "Husband with Alzheimer’s forgot he was married, so he did it again in Holyoke, Massachusetts" (London Times).  

Here's my earlier post about this couple, with video of the "wedding." I had to put "wedding" in quotes, because if it were a real wedding, it would be wrong, for at least 2 reasons. First, you can't marry when you are already married, which they were. Second, he lacks the cognitive power to agree to marriage. What's beautiful about this story is that the couple is already married, the woman is devoted to whatever she can still find in him, and the man is still alive enough to keep reaching out to her. 

The man has early-onset Alzheimer's and is only 58 years old.


Ann Althouse said...

Temujin writes:

Alzheimers is the scourge of our lives. There is nothing good about any disease or health issue that takes away one's life or their ability to live freely, and on their own. But I can think of nothing more horrible than losing one's life in their head. Your memories, your very being. Going from a sentient human being who lived a full life complete with feelings, memories, unique thoughts, and that thing- that very unique thing that makes you the individual you are, to a mass of functioning and slowly deteriorating cells. Nothing frightens me more than the thought of Alzheimers. And nothing would crush me more than watching a loved one go through it. I feel for all those who have had to do this.

I read about possible small breakthroughs in the battle against this disease. I wonder if we're seeing more cases now, in the recent generation or two, because we know more about how to diagnose it, or because we're actually having more cases. I wonder if we missed it for generations. I wonder if something we ingest today makes it more prevalent today, like we're poisoning our brains irreparably by something in our daily lives.

Lisa & Peter's story is touching because of what they are losing. Because Peter soon won't realize that he lost anything, and soon after that he won't recognize Lisa or remember that they had a life and love together. Nothing to me is sadder than that.

Ann Althouse said...

m stone writes:

The video is bittersweet and almost painful to watch for those who have cared (how about ten years here?) for an Alzheimer's or dementia patient. The video is beautifully done, but the story will not end well. What Peter experiences is not known, but his world is rapidly getting smaller. Merciful? The disease is often compounded by unpleasant, even violent behavior, and professional care is an absolute necessity for Lisa. This is common knowledge to many readers I'm sure.

Galantamine is used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's that slowly destroys the memory and the ability to think, learn, and communicate. A natural side effect of Galantamine is lucid dreaming, a step up from vivid dreams we occasionally experience. The medication is being studied at the Center for Sleep and Consciousness at the UW-Madison.