Bruce Vincent, just 48 years old, has Alzheimer’s disease. The Boston Globe plans to report on this Massachusetts family’s journey with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Bruce Vincent works his way up and down the aisles of the grocery store he has owned for two decades, methodically unpacking crates of food, stocking shelves, and breaking down the empty cartons.
Midway down aisle 2, Vincent hesitates, unsure where the fudge-coated peanut butter cookies go. The redesigned package throws him, so he tucks them amid crackers on the top shelf and continues down the row.
On closer inspection, Vincent has left behind a trail of similar mismatches, which his 26-year-old son, Brian, now the boss, wearily but discreetly fixes. Used to be, the elder Vincent would gently correct the mistakes of his son, who started sweeping floors and stocking shelves at Vincent’s Country Store when he was 10 years old.
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.
Emmy Award-winning CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen shares his journey into life as a caregiver to his wife, Jan, diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease at 55 in Jan’s Story: Love lost to the long goodbye of Alzheimer’s.
OSWEGO, Ill — After practice, Oswego East boys volleyball coach Jim Mueller had beads of sweat covering the top of his head, a product of having participated directly in his team drills as the Wolves prepare for their season opener Wednesday against Benet Academy.
It’s apparent to anybody who sees him that Mueller, who has done quite a bit of running over the years, is in fit physical condition.
What isn’t apparent is that Mueller was diagnosed four years ago with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the progressive degeneration of brain cells. He is 41 years old.
Gary Reiswig recounted his family’s history with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, including their role in the discovery of a genetic marker for Alzheimer’s, in the book “The Thousand-Mile Stare: One Family’s Journey Through the Struggle and Science of Alzheimer’s.” Here is an interview with Reiswig from the Dallas Morning News:
How did you hear or see Alzheimer’s affect your family?
There was an observed family rumor that my great-grand- father Christian was senile by age 43. He died in 1903. I knew my grandfather well. I would hold his hand on walks so he wouldn’t get lost. He got to where he couldn’t speak and was silent with “the thousand-mile stare.” My dad’s oldest sister, Pearl, would put the ice tray in the stove instead of the fridge. She grew angry and violent and had to go into a care facility. Another of my dad’s younger sisters got so disoriented and forgetful she could not take care of her son, who had to live with relatives. … One of the largest impacts of this disease is that, when we finally understood what was happening, it blew our family apart.
Elderly people with failing memories often keep driving, but a study of Alzheimer’s patients suggests the risk of getting lost — even on familiar streets — may be greater than once thought.
Even with early dementia, there may be no safe period behind the wheel because the disease is unpredictable, said Linda Hunt, an associate professor in the School of Occupational Therapy at Pacific University, Oregon, and author of a new study.
“Alzheimer’s disease affects memory and navigational skills. These impairments may lead to getting lost, which is a life-threatening problem,” Hunt said. “Family members and friends of individuals with dementia need to recognize these impairments as serious threats to safety for anyone who has dementia.
“It is estimated that 30 to 45 percent of Alzheimer’s patients continue to drive after diagnosis.
When Mark Howard started becoming absentminded and forgetful, he was 43, principal of Chandler Junior High School and the school’s beloved baseball coach who wore the number 22 on his team jersey.
He would forget simple things such as where he had left his keys. Doctors thought he was experiencing depression or attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder and prescribed him several different drugs to try. But none helped.
Within a year, Howard’s symptoms worsened, and he started telling his wife, Melody Howard, “I think maybe I’m going crazy. I feel like I’m losing my mind.”
Four years later, Mark died from Alzheimer’s disease.
Mark was 47 when he died, far younger than most people who die from Alzheimer’s disease. More people are being diagnosed at a young age than ever.