What happens to a family when the wife and mother receives an unexpected and devastating diagnosis of dementia at a young age? This series of blogs, originally published by Next Avenue throughout 2014, follows one family’s experience with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), the most common form of brain wasting that strikes people under age 60.
The author, Dan Browning, spent years as an investigative reporter and now covers health care and medical research for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. His wife, Liz Cummings Browning, was an accomplished musician and was diagnosed with the disease at age 50. Prior to her diagnosis, her family struggled, not understanding why she seemed suddenly hostile to them.
Browning takes readers from the shock of diagnosis, to Liz losing her job and ability to play with her band, to finding suitable care as her abilities deteriorated. He shows what it’s like when terrifying dementia symptoms, like wandering, occur. He writes eloquently about facing the tough decision of whether or not to prolong Liz’s life. And he shares his sorrow and stories of coping after her death.
This highly personal series taps into the universal experience of caregivers and families facing similar diagnoses, and imparts critical information about the disease, finances and legal decisions along the way.