When George Gingerelli Sr.'s kids ask him about his wife, he can't remember her. That's because George has Alzheimer's. So when he sat down with his son for a StoryCorps interview, he talked about his sister and sang Italian songs, but he couldn't remember his wife. What happens when our memories begin to disappear? And what toll does it take on the family or those who care for us? We talk to a neurologist whose mother has Alzheimer's, and others whose loved ones are losing their memories.
Except for the audio from Shirley Marcuse, all interviews were recorded by StoryCorps, a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people. Excerpts were selected and produced by KNPR producer Irene Noguchi. During its May trip for its Memory Loss Initiative, StoryCorps interviewed people at three memory loss facilities in Southern Nevada: Aegis Living, the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, and the Adult Day Care Center.
Dr. Charles Bernick, neurologist and Assoc Medical Dir, Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
George Gingerelli, Jr. Shirley Marcuse Maggie Henrichson
Father and Son Gingerelli
Dr. Charles Bernick and his Mom
Rose Arrieta, StoryCorps facilitator
Has Alzheimer's or dementia affected your family or friends? How has it changed their lives? How has it changed yours? Share your story below.
I am writing from the StoryCorps Memory Loss Initiative to thank you for including us in your show today. The sincere and thoughtful questions you asked your guests allowed them to share their experience as caregivers and pay tribute to the lives of the loved ones they care for. We are grateful to them for sharing their insight.
We really enjoyed hearing the stories of your community during our recording days at Aegis, The Adult Day Care Center, and Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and greatly admire the work of these organizations. We look forward to hearing more produced interview segments from our visit in the coming weeks!Alexis Creer –Jun 22, 2010 10:51:36 AM
Several years ago I wrote an article entitled "It's Just Old Age...or is it?" for a magazine in Philadelphia. My mother had dementia caused by mini-strokes and her doctor was in denial. He said it was just old age. Upon evaluation by a geriatric medical group, it was evident that she had mini-strokes, now had dementia and was not safe living on her own. I did lots of research and my article contained many helpful hints in dealing with dementia or Alzheimers. However, the most helpful one I can offer is what my sister and I discovered. If you or your loved one is displaying signs, and the doctor says it's old age, get another evaluation, preferable from a geriatric specialist. Listening to this program made me think perhaps I should write another article.
Two helpful things...when the person is lost in the past, don't even try to correct them. They won't remember it and it only upsets them. As long as they can read and comprehend, make them a little booklet with answers to the questions they keep asking. It is very comforting...an anchor in a sea of confusionMorgan St. James –Jun 22, 2010 10:22:39 AM
My mother's dementia is just beginning, but we know from other family members that that's what it is. If you knew then what you know now what would you have done with them? How do we celebrate these last weeks and days together that she knows us? How do we get her to go to a doctor? She really always hated doctors and won't admit anythings wrong......she's only 77 now and it sounds like a long road is ahead.kristin deneal –Jun 22, 2010 09:39:07 AM
Having a degree in Music, and after studying Music Therapy, at ASU, I am currently volunteering at a few Alzheimer's groups in Lake Havasu. Playing piano and singing, the attempt is to correlate Melody...to memory...in hopes that there may be a cognitive carry over for perhaps a day or so. As yet, there is no clinical data to support a theory, but for one day a week the members look forward to Friday mornings. Of course, this action does add much to my life as well. Arvid Munson –Jun 22, 2010 09:21:41 AM