Alzheimer's: Could you do what this woman is doing to protect her husband?
WATERTOWN, Mass. -- I was sent to tell a story about a man with early onset Alzheimer's disease. Steve Johanson, 62, had been paired with first year medical school student, Oscar Garcia, 21, as part of an experiential learning program that has shown promise for increasing the heuristic skillsets of future physicians who will one day treat these patients.
But just as newsworthy to me was the love story I witnessed between Steve and his wife, Judy, 54.
It seemed that to grasp what noted Alzheimer's researcher Dr. Andrew Budson, whom I also interviewed, was telling future and current physicians to look for when seeing older patients, it would make more sense if it were framed by a real life story. So, I told their story, too.
Alzheimer's is expensive, and has the potential to leave destitute many millions of Americans who currently do not have in place long term policies to protect themselves and their families. If you are one of those people, as were Judy and Steve, I hope you will find my report on the cost of care illuminating. I hope you will also find it a moving but cautionary tale, as it is told through the eyes of Judy who was taken utterly by surprise by this turn of events, and who, after giving up the business she ran for years, is now essentially Steve's full-time carer.
Despite the severe cut to her family's income, she is coping well with the support of family and friends. But I wondered, as I documented the details of her life: How many of us could do what she is doing? Could you?