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What it’s like to watch a loved one with early-onset Alzheimer's slowly slip away

Courtesy of Jim Mangi
Jim Mangi and his daughter, Charlene, assumed caregiving roles for Jim's wife Kathleen after she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Traditional wedding vows talk about “for better or for worse … in sickness and in health.”

When your wife has Alzheimer's disease, and you’re her caregiver, you learn what those words truly mean.

Even more so when she is one of the more than 200,000 Americans with early-onset Alzheimer’s, which is when dementia symptoms happen before age 65.

Jim Mangi and his wife Kathleen have been married for 44 years. For the past nine years, Jim was Kathleen’s primary caregiver as her Alzheimer’s dementia progressed.

Today she lives in a memory care unit, and he’s hoping that sharing their story will help other caregivers.

Mangi and his daughter, Charlene Mangi, joined Stateside to discuss how they first began to notice the symptoms of her Alzheimer’s, how they assumed caregiving roles once Kathleen was diagnosed, why Mangi describes his caregiving as an “awful act of love,” and what advice they can offer to others in similar situations.

Listen above.

Tomorrow on Stateside, Jennifer Howard, executive director of the Michigan Great Lakes Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Minding Michigan is Stateside’s ongoing series that examines mental health issues in our state.

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Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 9 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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