As I was reading the recent book review in the Charlotte Observer of former TV reporter and producer Meryl Comer’s book, “Slow Dancing With a Stranger: Lost and Found in the Age of Alzheimer’s,” I was struck by the power and TRUTH of her message.
An estimated 87 percent of people living with Alzheimer’s are cared for in the home setting by family members over age 50 – “and we caregivers are the keeper of the secret,” she says. “As women, we were trained to be stoic and swallow our pain and really not talk about it. This is permission to say: ‘This is a cruel disease, and we have to stop it.’ My goal as an advocate is to change the conversation. It’s unacceptable for our future.”
Comer speaks from deep experience. Two decades ago, Comer’s husband, Harvey Gralnick, MD, held a high position at the National Institutes of Health when he was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s. Her mother was also subsequently diagnosed with the disease. So Comer gave up her successful journalism career to become a full-time caregiver. Now, she heads the Geoffrey Beene Foundation’s Alzheimer’s Initiative.
As we enter this New Year, I honor Comer’s story and I embrace her words. The time has long come for us to be open books, to lift the veil, to drag our personal experiences with Alzheimer’s out into the light. We shouldn’t expend energy covering it up or trying to keep it a secret. We should be sharing all we can and supporting each other, with all the love and transparency that we can possibly generate.
The Ivey will soon be releasing a series of short videos intended to serve this very purpose – sharing each other’s stories, building a supportive community, and inviting everyone to approach us, without hesitation, for help, guidance and advice.
Speaking of “open books,” The Ivey has purchased copies of Meryl Comer’s new book, which will be given to the first 10 people who sign up for a free tour of The Ivey. It’s a chance for you to step into our community, to see the support that is available for you and your loved one with memory loss, and to begin a vital conversation that will make the Alzheimer’s journey not just survivable, but life-affirming.
Just CLICK HERE to request a tour of The Ivey, and if you are one of the first 10 (we’ll let you know!), your free copy of “Slow Dancing With a Stranger: Lost and Found in the Age of Alzheimer’s” will be waiting for you when you arrive.
You’re not alone. Far from it. I hope to see you soon.
Got a comment? I love ’em! Email them here and I’ll read and reply.