A conversation with David Finch, author of The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband, about how learning he has Aspergers helped him to stop blaming himself for the difficulties he had in relationships, and opened up a path to overcoming them.
In the second half of our conversation, poet Richard Blanco talks and reads poems about how he navigates the homophobia in his family and in the world.
An interview with Bill Verrill, a former banker, who now suffers from early Alzheimer’s disease. Bill describes his deep trust in his wife Shirley’s ability to take care of him, but his deepest fear is for her, and the toll his illness will take on her life. He talks about letting go of his driver’s license and the challenge of feeling dependent on others. Bill movingly describes his frustration at not being able to complete tasks as he used to, despite his determination to keep reading and working on the computer as long as he still can. He also describes his wish for a forum to talk to other people with dementia, since most support groups are for the caregiver, not for the actual patient. After the interview we found this link to Memory Works Cafes for those with dementia, held monthly throughout Maine.
A conversation with Melynda, whose husband’s early-onset dementia has hit their family especially hard. He has frontotemporal dementia (FTD), which unlike Alzheimer’s is not first characterized by problems with memory, but by poor judgment and inappropriate behavior. Melynda’s husband, a doctor, began to make errors in judgment by over-prescribing pain medications to his patients, and was incarcerated for these mistakes. After his incarceration, the family learned that his illness is genetic and that all of the six children were at risk. Melynda talks about her initial struggles to understand what was happening to her husband and how his diagnosis transformed her frustration into compassion and forgiveness. She also discusses their children’s decisions about whether or not to find out if they carry the gene which causes FTD.
A conversation with Frances Randolph, whose husband had early-onset Alzheimer’s. Frances talks about the outgoing man she married and how dementia changed him so much that he became someone she barely recognized, someone who ultimately became violent with her. She describes the events that led up to him being transferred to a nursing home, and how she gave herself permission to care for herself even if that meant only going for short visits. Frances describes the series of losses inherent in his Alzheimer’s, including the loss of her sense of herself as a wife. She reports that it was only after his death that she could reclaim her memories of him, as a man with dancing eyes…