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None of us want to think about Alzheimer's, but when we do, our mind is likely filled with received ideas: Images of the dark, not-knowing, empty stare that comes over the faces of patients. But there is a new face of Alzheimer's which offers an open, frank, and fearless window on the disease. It's a face that comes sharply into focus during this important episode of Life (Part 2).

First, our cameras travel to the Indiana home of Mary Ann Becklenberg, a courageous, articulate 64-year-old woman who is speaking out for herself and others in the early stages of Alzheimer's. A former hospice worker who is now on the Early Stage Advisory Committee for the Alzheimer's Association, Becklenberg sees her diagnosis as a challenge to inform others about a disease that now afflicts more than five million Americans.

In this opening segment, we meet Mary Ann's family, friends, and former colleagues. How is her husband coping? What signs did Mary Ann's co-workers first see that hinted at her condition? How do her friends feel as they witness the progression of the disease?

Then, Robert Lipsyte sits down with Mary Ann, and she doesn't flinch from the difficult truths. Yet this poignantly self-aware woman shows how it is possible to live with Alzheimer's with dignity and great intelligence-and even to make important plans while they can still be made. This conversation offers a clear vision of Alzheimer's that you likely have never before seen.

Then, former United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins reads "Forgetfulness," his frank and sometimes funny poem about how even "normally" aging minds slowly let go of facts and memories.

Comments

life part 2 from pbs

This care-giver help is the best I have ever found. Tremendous.

Alanya Emlak

I congratulate you for this blog.
I've really enjoyed.
I sincerely thank you again

Appreciation

Thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences. My dad and his one sibling had AD; their mother had in the 1970s.

I'm praying, as I know you all are, that medical research will yield answers and treatments soon.

Best wishes.

alzheimers

it is out there. I am dealing with it with my mother

Caring for my Dad with Alzheimer's

My name is Kathy and I am the full time caregiver for my eighty one year-old Dad who has Alzheimer's and lives with me in North Carolina.

When my Mom died in 2004 and Dad moved in with me, I had no idea what to do. But day by day, I found ways to cope, and even enjoy having my Dad with me.

So I started writing a blog at www.KnowItAlz.com, which shows the "lighter" side of caring for someone with dementia.

After a while, I added over 100 pages of helpful information and tips for caregivers. We even have a Chat room so caregivers can communicate with each other from home.

Please pass this link along to anyone you feel would enjoy it.

Thanks!
Kathy Hatfield

"I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy"

I've said that so often--since my husband began his decline ten years ago. (He suffers from Front-Temprol Dementia, an early onset variety, beginning in his late forties.)

It's exactly how anyone with a loved one effected by these diseases feels---perhaps that should be a national Creed?

compelling story...

Gail,
Your journey finds resonance with me--and I fully understand why sharing some of the details seems a bit of a relief.

What you're enduring is horrible. Plain and simple---it's human, it's a story far more wide-spred than I ever knew (before my own dealings with a husband whom I've lost to Front-Temprol Dementia in his late 40's.)

God bless you and I hope for a merciful ending to your husband's long illness.

Susan (in Georgia)

Re: ALZ

@Georgina - refer to the Alzheimer's Association page on caring for someone with Alzheimer's. http://www.alz.org/living_with_alzheimers_caring_for_alzheimers.asp

ALZ

what website did you find for spouses of AD. My husband has it. Georgina

Alzheimers

After watching Life part 2 with Mary Ann Becklenberg I found myself reflecting on my husband's journey into AD. He is 69 years now and I have been watching him deteriorate for almost 20 years. His mother was one of 10 of which at least 4 had AD or some form of dementia so I was not surprised when he began having memory problems and other signs of the disease shortly after he was 50. He lost his job selling to the defense industry at 52 after 20 years with the company. Took 5 years to find another in a different field and then was let go after 10 years. I'm sure he was having trouble performing his job in sales by that time. He was very good at what he did before. I was diagnosed with MS in 2001 after searching for a name for my problems for about 20 years. He was finally diagnosed with dementia in 2005. He also has Crohn's and had a colostomy in 2008. By that time he was not able to take care of it on his own. I was his full time caregiver until recently when I found a personal care home that woud take him just before Thanksgiving. Since then he was hospitalized for blood clots in his leg and then again just before Christmas for pneumonia and subsequently a knee infection. He seems to deteriorating before my eyes.

I know this is rambling but somehow I feel better to finally put it all down.

Gail

John, you will have to watch

John, you will have to watch a movie called "The Notebook." It's a pretty sad story regarding the effects of Alzheimers.

-Matt

@Monique I'd refer you to the

@Monique I'd refer you to the Alzheimer's Association at www.alz.org, they'll have more information about medications and medical trials. thanks for your comment. Nick from Life (Part 2)

alzheimer's

I live in Canada my mom we found out that she had alzheimer's we have a doctor who doesn't go out of his way to sent my mother for an assesment so we have to step up and do something about it but we do have someone with "ALZHEIMER'S SOCIETY" to get something going we are trying very hard the hardest to keep our PRECIOUS MOM IN HER HOME NOT NURSING HOME she rather die before she ends there and my sister and me we are hoping for her to die before it happens .
Does anyone out there knows about any new medications

monique

I didn’t even know what

I didn’t even know what Alzheimers was until this national support group for those suffering from Alzheimers and their families set up their office in the building where I work. Since then, I have heard many stories. The President and Founder of the support group is one whose father had Alzheimers. He knew first hand how difficult it was coping with someone who has Alzheimers that he started the support group for others in the same boat. Initially he received a lot of assistance from doctors and nurses where his father was treated but now the group has grown so large that they are able to be self sufficient and have their own counselors and care givers.

I can not imagine how it must feel to have Alzheimers, it seems scary to slowly lose your memory and not even realize it is happening. I truly admire the caregivers of those who suffer from Alzheimers. What a heart-wrenching thing to go through; seeing your loved one slowly easing away into oblivion. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I wonder where the memory of those having this disease disappears to; and with medical science being so advanced - will a cure be soon found?

John Cole,

support

Leslie,

My husband was diagnosed with EOAD a year ago but was showing signs 3 years ago. He comes from a family of AD. If not for a website just for spouses of AD victim, I would be lost.

I look forward to seeing this episode to see how it is handled. We need more awareness that it hit younger people too.

Alzheimers

My husband of 27 years was diagnosed with Alzheimers 3 years ago and is only 52 years old . I think most women handle news like this better than most men . He is not handling it well at all ! He would rather kill his liver with alcohol than die of this disease . I'm at my wits end .He's fine when I'm home with him,but can't stand it when I go to work . He's adopted ,so we don't know if this runs in his family and refuses to let anyone but me help him . I have no choice but to work . He's not bad enough to put in adult daycare I can't do that. We have no family around to help with him .Will medicare pay a spouse to watch their husband or wife with Alzheimers ?
Thanks Leslie

Re: Alzheimers-Aurora

Bless you, Aurora. Both of my parents have Alzheimers, and I know that staying positive is no easy task. I'm rooting for you! Keep living, laughing and loving as well and as often and as much as you can. No one can ask for more than that.

Alzheimers

I am taking medication for alzheimers.
My mom came from a family of 12.
Eight out of the twelve got this horrible illness.
My mother was one of those eight.
I am the only one of 6 children who has been diagnosed with it.
I am the youngest of the 6.
I do not get lost and hopefully never will.
My daughter is a pharmaceutical rep and has taken charge
of getting my medications for me.
It is NO FUN to forget things ..........
I live by the motto:

LIVE WELL
LAUGH OFTEN
LOVE MUCH

I believe in having a POSITIVE ATTITUDE.

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