Ms. Anna Jean tearfully entered the therapy room after a one-week hiatus. She had gone to visit her mother in Missouri. Mother had been diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease nine months previously. It had been a shock to the entire family.
"But she's so young," cried Ms. Jean, as she grabbed tissues from the holder and blew her nose. Her mother was only 51 years old. Ms. Jean, a young, vibrant 22-year-old, had gone to New York two years before to pursue a dancing career. Beautiful and talented, she was having some emotional difficulties adjusting to the demands of her career, and there were problems with her boyfriend, whom she knew from college. He was also in the arts, a talented musician trying to get a recording contract for his rock band.
It was evident that in this last visit home, Ms. Jean was shaken by her mother's somewhat strange and erratic behavior. Mother had always been flamboyant and outgoing. While she recognized her daughter, smiling and welcoming her home, at times she became frozen in her expressions, didn't remember her daughter's name, and ordered the nursing aide out of the home. Ms. Jean's father had lost weight and was undone by his wife's diagnosis. He had leaned heavily on her all of his life, but now the roles were reversed; he was the major caregiver.