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Lauren Kessler

Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer’s – Excerpt

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By 8:20 all eleven residents are sitting at three tables, placemats and silverware set before each, glasses of water or juice or both, cups of coffee for those who want it. Hayes, who is ninety-one, is currently the only man in the neighborhood. In the world of Alzheimer’s, as in the larger word of the elderly, women significantly outnumber men. At Maplewood right now, of thirty-nine residents living in four neighborhoods, only four are men. Hayes is the oldest and has been here the longest.

Hayes’s wife of sixty-eight years, Mabel, has specified exactly how he is to be dressed every morning: white cotton undershirt, long-sleeved button-down sport shirt, v-neck sweater on top; underwear, long johns and khakis on bottom. He is unable to help much, so it takes forever to dress him. But I must admit, the guy looks dapper. He is tall and just barely on the scrawny side of lean with a chiseled face, a strong jaw and a becoming wisp of silver hair. If Jeremy Irons lives to be a nonagenarian, he’ll look just like Hayes.

Frances, Jasmine and I are sorting through the covered breakfast plates on the cart that was just brought in, checking the dietary log to make sure we give each resident what the log says we should give them. Somehow Frances has this memorized: no eggs for 135, she tells us; cut-ups to 131, finger food for 134.

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