Alzheimer's Talks with Greg O'Brien - April 2017

Author and journalist Greg O’Brien spoke about his journey into Alzheimer’s disease with Meryl Comer. Greg was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2009, and has been writing, chronicling, and talking about the process ever since. He shared his thoughts, strategies, and experiences in a candid and personal conversation.

Greg’s book, On Pluto, Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s, has been described as “heartbreaking, defiant, profound” and a new edition will be released this summer. He also has started a podcast series with UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, also called On Pluto.

A few key highlights:

As someone who has Alzheimer’s, Greg shared these tips and strategies to others who have also been diagnosed with, or are progressing with the disease:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Be willing to give up control over certain things, but hold on to your essence and strengths.
  • Physical exercise can really help reboot the brain.
  • Talk about the disease with your family and your community.
  • Get involved in clinical trials, telling your story, or advocacy. It will help you realize that you are not alone.

If you are a caregiver with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s, from Greg’s perspective, these are some things that can really make a difference:

  • It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Body language and keeping your body calm can help a person who may be frustrated or angry.
  • Don’t challenge a question; just go with the disease.
  • Say “we” instead of “you” when trying to solve problems.
  • Be aware that sundown may be the most difficult time of the day and plan ahead for that.
  • Acknowledge your own anger and frustration.

Thank you to Greg O’Brien for talking about his journey with Alzheimer’s. If you missed the talk – or if you’d like to hear it again – you can listen to an audio playback, read the transcript of our conversation, or check out the Storify recap. 

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