Last fall, 52 years after her college graduation, my mother moved back in with her college roommates. Their Boston apartment building is 10 minutes from where she raised her three children and 20 minutes from her freshman dorm room. Almost 20 years earlier, my parents had sold the home I grew up in and moved for my father’s job. This time, the move was for my mother and her job: caregiver to a husband with Alzheimer disease.
When my father was first diagnosed, my parents were new retirees, babysitting for grandchildren and contemplating seeing the world. As a family, we spent the first few years after my father’s diagnosis talking about medications for Alzheimer’s (they exist but have limited effectiveness), the value of crossword puzzles for him (the data are mixed, but for a while we felt like we had to make him do them), day programs (some have movies and stimulating speakers, some have pickup and drop-off service), and how to tell the grandchildren about their grandfather. Despite our efforts and his outstanding health care, my father's Alzheimer’s progressed.