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Maggie Sullivan has come to know Alzheimer's intimately. She was caregiver and advocate during the eight years her mother lived with the disease. For the past 23 years, she has facilitated caregiver support groups for the Alzheimer's Association, learning from the experience of more than 300 members of those groups. The opinions she expresses here are her own. Maggie is also a writer whose essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times and elsewhere.

 

Dementia in Films: Getting It Right

Dementia in Films: Getting It Right
I loved the novel Still Alice because it was an accurate portrayal of Alzheimer’s disease. And the movie Still Alice got it right too.

I lead support groups for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s so I was eager to find out what they thought of the movie.  Read more...


 

What Good Are Support Groups?

What Good Are Support Groups?
This was Chester’s first time at our caregiver support group. A man in his 70s, he told us about his wife who has Alzheimer’s disease and has become anxious whenever he is out of sight.  Read more...


 

Accepting Losses, Discovering Gains

Accepting Losses, Discovering Gains
After my mother came to live with me, I gradually took on more and more of her care. By the end of the first year I was doing what any Alzheimer’s caregiver does. I bathed her, helped her dress, handled her finances, did her laundry, tried to be patient answering her repeated questions, gave her medications, coaxed her back to bed if she was wide awake in the middle of the night, prepared her meals, cleaned up when she had spells of incontinence, tried to find music or videos she might enjoy, took her on walks, helped her dial the phone and took her to 42 doctor’s appointments.  Read more...


 

Preserving Autonomy against the Odds

Preserving Autonomy against the Odds
When the doctor diagnosed my mother with probable Alzheimer’s, he also told her, “I want you to stop driving.” He said her reflexes and judgment weren’t good enough.  Read more...


 

Does She Still Recognize You?

Does She Still Recognize You?
An acquaintance I ran into at the supermarket stopped me with that question. It was one I got frequently when my mother was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s.

The question made me uncomfortable. It seemed intrusive coming from someone I wasn’t close to, and it was hard to answer. The truth was complicated.  Read more...


 

Adrift in Time

Adrift in Time
I was taking my mother to Maine to visit her brother. They had lived in New Jersey within a few blocks of each other their entire lives until, due to her dementia, she moved in with me. A month later, he and my aunt moved to Maine to be near their daughters. I knew my mother missed him, so I thought this trip would make her happy. Indeed, she was overjoyed when I told her we were going.  Read more...


 

When Behavior Speaks

When Behavior Speaks
I sat with my mother and her caregiver, Aliza, one afternoon in the Alzheimer’s unit of the nursing home. With my mother between us, Aliza and I chatted about the hot weather we had been having. All of a sudden my mother hauled off and punched me solidly in the arm.  Read more...


 

Regarding Alzheimer’s

Regarding Alzheimer’s
An empty shell. Doesn’t know who he is. Violent. Doesn’t recognize family members. Unable to communicate. The negative stereotypes and exaggerations of Alzheimer’s disease abound.  Read more...


 

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The Silver Century Foundation promotes a positive view of aging. The Foundation challenges entrenched and harmful stereotypes, encourages dialogue between generations, advocates planning for the second half of life, and raises awareness to educate and inspire everyone to live long, healthy, empowered lives.

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"It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment; in these qualities old age is usually not poorer, but is even richer."

Cicero (106-43 BC)