Up Close and Personal: My Mother and Alzheimer’s

February 23, 2012 - Trish Vradenburg

As many times as I read reflections of a daughter writing about her mother with Alzheimer’s, it never gets old; it never fails to punch me in the stomach; it never fails to make me tear up. Such is the case with Colette Cassidy, a former news anchor, trained to be dispassionate about every story. But there is no being dispassionate about your mother living with Alzheimer’s. Thank you, Colette, for sharing your poignant story:

As a TV reporter, I thought I had seen it all. In Philadelphia I covered every local story imaginable, and travelled for hurricanes, political conventions, a presidential impeachment and the Grammys. At MSNBC I anchored brief news updates and hours of breaking news, including live coverage of an impending storm called Katrina.

But every event I’ve covered, every story I’ve told, pales in comparison to the one I’m witnessing right now: the horrors of Alzheimer’s disease.

My mother has Early Onset Alzheimer’s, an aggressive form of the disease that hits before the age of 65, often in the 40’s and 50’s. My mother started showing symptoms in her 50’s and is now in the final stages of this horrific disease.

I use the word “horrific”, but the truth is, there is no word sufficient to describe the way Alzheimer’s ravages a human being and human mind, and the exhausting, heart wrenching journey loved ones are on as they struggle to care for someone who no longer knows them.


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