My guest today is Elaine S. Reisman. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Elaine. In 2011, we discussed your new interest, teaching drama to senior citizens.
Joan Brunwasser: Today, we're going to be discussing something very different. Over the last number of years, you've become immersed in the subject of Alzheimer's. Why?
Elaine S. Reisman: In May 1995, my husband, Bernie, went to a convention in Florida with some colleagues. I had been a bit concerned about his asking me the same questions over again and repeating some statements, but he still seemed to be functioning well. What alerted me that there was more to it was that he did not come home on the day he said he was to arrive home. I guessed that he had been confused and checked the hotel, verifying that he was still there. Since he was traveling with other people, I realized that he was OK and said nothing about it when he came home.
For about 30 years, he was a much revered professor and director of a graduate program at Brandeis University. When he decided to step down as director, he continued teaching and presenting workshops. Then, I began to learn from his secretaries that he was asking them to repeat tasks they had already done. That and the Florida incident made me quite certain that he was on the 'dementia' road. His father and several aunts and uncles had had Alzheimer's.
For the next four years, he continued to teach and I continued to hear from secretaries and colleagues of their concern about his functioning. At home, memory was an issue, although he was still able to tend to his daily needs, drive to where he was going and keep appointments.
JB: How did you react to his slipping behavior?
ESR: I found myself losing patience and sought help from the Alzheimer's Association. I joined a group which afforded me emotional support as well as practical information. I chose a group that also had a patient support group. Bernie was not ready at that time to go to the patient group as they were much further along than he.
After I had been going for a while, I had eye surgery and it was necessary for him to drive me to the group. By that time, he was further along in the disease, so when he came in with me, I introduced him to the others, including the leaders of the group for the patients. He was amenable to their invitation and began to attend the group.