NPR has been talking to Tom DeBaggio since his diagnosis with early onset Alzheimer’s in 1999. In the intervening years, his disease has progressed. But first he wrote two thoughtful books about life with Alzheimer’s.
In 1999, Tom DeBaggio was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. He was 57. Soon after the diagnosis, he began talking with NPR about his illness.
He wanted to document his decline, to break through what he called the “shame and silence” of Alzheimer’s.
NPR’s Noah Adams started the visits with Tom, his wife, Joyce, and his son, Francesco, at DeBaggio’s Herb Farm and Nursery in Chantilly, Va.
“I still talk, I still stand up on both feet, I still look the same — maybe they go out of here and say, ‘Doesn’t look like anything wrong with him.’ And of course you don’t see it,” he said in 1999.