Love And Alzheimer’s

Having a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease is, in many ways, worse than a death for the family. To watch someone you’ve loved all your life forget his life, forget himself, and forget you, while becoming so incompetent that he needs round-the-clock care is horrible — and this, despite the positive spin that USA Today is trying to put on it, must make things even worse,

“Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s husband, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, has found a new romance, and his happiness is a relief to his wife, an Arizona TV report reveals.

The report, which quoted the couple’s oldest son, Scott O’Connor, focused on Alzheimer’s patients who forget their spouses and fall in love with someone else. Experts say the scenario is somewhat common.

Offering a glimpse into the private life of a woman who has remained on the public stage since her Supreme Court retirement in 2006 to care for her husband, the report spotlighted John O’Connor, 77. He and the woman, referred to only as “Kay,” live at a Phoenix facility for people with Alzheimer’s.

“Mom was thrilled that Dad was relaxed and happy and comfortable living here and wasn’t complaining,” Scott, 50, told KPNX-Channel 12 in Phoenix in a story that aired Thursday. The station is owned by Gannett, as is USA TODAY.

Though Sandra Day O’Connor, 77, did not appear in the television report, it gave a rare look at the life of the nation’s first female justice. The family’s willingness to highlight an aspect of a heart-wrenching illness recalled O’Connor’s decision in 1994 to go public with her feelings about breast cancer.

…Scott compared his father to “a teenager in love” and said, “For Mom to visit when he’s happy … visiting with his girlfriend, sitting on the porch swing holding hands,” was a relief after a painful period.

The O’Connors, who have three children, met at Stanford Law School and married in 1952.”

Imagine being married to a man for 50 years and having him struck down with Alzheimer’s Disease. Then, just consider how painful it must be, after the love of your life has forgotten who you are, to see him fall in love with another woman.

That is just heartbreaking.

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