The Upside Of Alzheimer’s?

(Timothy Kolczak/Unsplash)

(Timothy Kolczak/Unsplash)

Can Alzheimer’s ever heal relationships?

This week Modern Love: The Podcast (a collaboration between WBUR and The New York Times) explores the story of one family whose lives were changed — for the better — by the disease.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is estimated that more than 5 million Americans suffer from the disease. Known for its devastating symptoms — memory loss, mood and personality changes — Alzheimer’s ranks third nationwide in the leading cause of death just behind heart disease and cancer.

Narrated by the actor Michael Shannon, Robert Leleux’s Modern Love essay, “A Memory Magically Interrupted,” retells the story of his grandmother’s struggle with the disease. While her memory was erased, her sense of humor remained.

“The wonderful thing about Alzheimer’s,” she would say, unfurling her arm like Bette Davis, “is that you always live in the moment.”

In an interview with WBUR’s Meghna Chakrabarti and New York Times Modern Love editor Daniel Jones, Leleux remembers the “hundreds of letters” he received after the essay was published.

One man wrote of his long estrangement from his father — a difficult man who had survived Auschwitz. Alzheimer’s changed his personality completely, erasing all memories of the trauma he had faced. The man wrote that he was finally able to have a relationship with his father at the end of his father’s life.

To listen to this episode, click here, or the player below:

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