By Mary Thurwachter, Managing Editor
Loss has been a major player in my sister-in-law’s life over the past few years. In just about every case, Alzheimer’s was the culprit.
She lost her job as a paralegal. She gave up driving her car. Her ability to read music faded away and she began to struggle with even the most taken-for-granted of skills, like turning on the reading light above her piano or buttoning her blouse. The list of things she can no longer do goes on an on, a dirge of what was and what no longer is her life.
And my brother, her husband of 40 years, has a growing list of losses, too. The love of his life is slowly, sadly slipping away.
He sounds so crestfallen when we talk on the phone.
After reading Mary Jane Fine’s story (see Page 1), I wish there were a place like the Louis and Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center near my brother and sister-in-law’s home in Wisconsin.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the country, according to the Alzheimer’s Association website (www.alz.org), and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.
Caring for people with the disease is a very expensive proposition.
Last year, the direct costs of caring for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias totaled an estimated $200 billion, including $140 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. We’re so fortunate to have a state-designated Memory Disorder Clinic like the Louis and Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center in our midst. And we’re blessed to have people like the Greens, who understand how important having a facility like this is and then finding a way to make it a reality.
It is so important for us not to forget the forgetful and those who care for them. After all, there are 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease — including my sister-in-law and, very likely, someone in you know, as well.