B.Smith has Alzheimers; her husband is criticized for bringing a girlfriend into the house as a caregiver

aftershocks

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7YeA5Jq_Hk The View's take

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIGL2hCxA7U Today show's take with Al Roker

Here's B.Smith with her husband Dan Gasby on the Today show in 2016 discussing the book they wrote together, Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help & Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer's. This was obviously before B. fully succumbed to the devastations of Alzheimer's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSIXkRHSZ4Q

I remember B. Smith when she was a model, and I knew about her later career writing cookbooks and building her restaurant empire. I don't recall hearing about her contracting Alzheimer's. It's all so sad. I really don't know what to think about her husband, Dan Gasby's choices. He can say that he discussed this eventuality and these choices with his wife before she fully succumbed to the disease, but she's not able to confirm or deny at this juncture. This is incredibly sad. It's hard to make a fully informed judgement call, but I will say that it is food for thought to consider one's wedding vows and what those vows actually mean and stand for. I haven't read the book they wrote together, since I just heard about it.

Is it really out of love and caring for B. that her husband Dan hasn't simply divorced her due to her debilitating illness? And then simply paid for loving caregivers and checked in on her often, while going about living his own life with his new girlfriend? I can understand some people being suspicious of his motives.

Of course, B.Smith is not the same person Dan married, but there is a question about preserving her dignity out of respect for her humanity and the person she was. This is difficult to accept, unless B.Smith expressly approved beforehand of Dan eventually bringing a new lover into the house to join him as a caretaker. The part B. may actually have discussed and agreed with is likely more about educating the public about Alzheimer's. And as some of the criticizers asked, why not help B. by applying a small amount of makeup, unless it might be a difficult thing to do for someone in that condition because they maybe can't sit still long enough for it to be applied. I don't know. This whole situation certainly raises questions to contemplate about a whole host of pertinent issues.
 

skatesindreams

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When B. Smith was first diagnosed; some years ago, she gave a number of interviews about her decline, which was gradual, at that time.
 

aftershocks

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TheGirlCanSkate

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I don't judge him at all. She is not the person he married at all, but he keeps her in her home and cares for her. Why should he put his life on hold for the next 20 years? His wife may live 20 years as well. Anyone who judges him should be ashamed. It is a horrific disease with horrific stress on the family.
 

modern_muslimah

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I read the recent story in the NY Times about them. It's so sad. I understand why he has a girlfriend and I don't judge him either. She isn't the same woman he married. He clearly still loves her but she's not the same.
 

Japanfan

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I don't judge him at all. She is not the person he married at all, but he keeps her in her home and cares for her. Why should he put his life on hold for the next 20 years? His wife may live 20 years as well. Anyone who judges him should be ashamed. It is a horrific disease with horrific stress on the family.
As per the thread title, the question is whether it is appropriate for him to bring his girlfriend into the house as a caregiver.

Were I the one needing the caregiver, I wouldn't want that. And, would be concerned that the girlfriend might come to highly resent me.
 

emason

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This is not an unusual situation. Leonard Baskin, the artist, taught printmaking and sculpture at Smith College in Northampton, MA. He and his first wife lived in faculty housing on the Lyman Estate. The first wife had some tragic, debilitating disease; she also had money. Baskin divorced his first wife, with her permission, and married again. Baskin and second wife lived with first wife and took care of her until the day she died; in return, she left them her money. By all accounts and all local lore, it was a very satisfactory arrangement on all parts.
 

MacMadame

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Since it's okay with B. Smith's daughter, it's okay with me. I think she'd be in a position to know if her mom was being harmed by the arrangement.
 

Matryeshka

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My father died of Alzheimer’s. I so wish towards the end my mother had a boyfriend to help. Not only for emotional support but physical as well—Alzheimer’s patients get violent as the disease progresses AND there are issues like diapering a fully-grown adult and feeding someone who has lost all motor skills. I worked during the day and so there were some days my dad sat in his diaper till I got home—he did get home health care but it was inconsistent and they only came once a day.
 

once_upon

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One of my professors in grad school had a husband with Alzhiemers - early onset in his mid 50's. They were both well educated (PhD) and medical professionals. One of his parents also had Alzhiemers so they were intimately aware of the disease progression. They had in depth discussions on the what if relationships. They knew he eventually would be in a memory care unit and that relationships would change, she being the caregiver not a wife in traditional sense. And agreed that while they would remain married, they could also go on with life.
Alzhiemers is an awful disease. I think that the family needs to do what they feel is the right thing to do.
 

aftershocks

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Since it's okay with B. Smith's daughter, it's okay with me. I think she'd be in a position to know if her mom was being harmed by the arrangement.
NOTE: The daughter is not B.Smith's biological daughter. She is B.Smith's husband's (Dan Gasby's) biological daughter. So B.Smith did not give birth to her. If you look at one of the clips, it indicates that B.Smith and the daughter slowly got to know each other at some point when the daughter was a pre-teen or teenager.

This is not an unusual situation. Leonard Baskin, the artist, taught printmaking and sculpture at Smith College in Northampton, MA. He and his first wife lived in faculty housing on the Lyman Estate. The first wife had some tragic, debilitating disease; she also had money. Baskin divorced his first wife, with her permission, and married again. Baskin and second wife lived with first wife and took care of her until the day she died; in return, she left them her money. By all accounts and all local lore, it was a very satisfactory arrangement on all parts.
I hadn't heard of the couple you mention at Smith College. That's interesting. In the case of B.Smith and Dan Gasby, we don't know if this type of arrangement was ever discussed between B.Smith and her husband prior to her completely succumbing to the disease.
 
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aftershocks

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My father died of Alzheimer’s. I so wish towards the end my mother had a boyfriend to help. Not only for emotional support but physical as well—Alzheimer’s patients get violent as the disease progresses AND there are issues like diapering a fully-grown adult and feeding someone who has lost all motor skills. I worked during the day and so there were some days my dad sat in his diaper till I got home—he did get home health care but it was inconsistent and they only came once a day.
I'm familiar with Alzheimer's; it is a form of dementia. There are different types of dementia that lead to memory loss and mental deterioration. Alzheimer's is especially devastating, and it usually manifests differently for different individuals at each stage. From my limited knowledge of it and having witnessed patients in nursing homes suffering from it, I realize that there are family members who always want to be there for their loved one. And some family, particularly a spouse, sometimes want to be the one(s) caring for their loved one. My mother suffered late in her life from vascular dementia which led to some memory loss, but she never completely lost her entire memory, nor did she forget who she was, nor who her children were. She knew who everyone was, except she sometimes mixed up the grandchildren and couldn't remember great-grandchildren because due to her memory loss she was situated in the past, and she couldn't put together how the grandchildren had grown up so fast to be adults with young children of their own. But she was still living in the present too and she maintained her dignity. She could eat on her own, help with her care, read, talk on the phone and carry on intelligent conversations. But vascular dementia is different from Alzheimer's even though it does cause short term memory loss and physical and mental complications. Vascular dementia is related to strokes.

With Alzheimer's, often the care that's needed becomes too much for a spouse or family member to handle exclusively. With the money that B.Smith has, her husband could easily pay for the best professional and compassionate caretakers for the heavy duty and stressful daily care that's needed and still have B.Smith stay in her own home, and he could live elsewhere or in a separate apartment in the large home with his girlfriend. Again, we don't know what B.Smith and her husband may or may not have discussed prior to her succumbing to the devastating illness. I plan to read the book they wrote together before she became so ill.

I'm a little bit put off by Gasby sharing so much in the video of B.Smith (again unless she agreed to have a video taken in her home of her at this stage of her illness, before she completely succumbed to the disease). I think there is something to be said for honoring a loved one's dignity for the person they used to be. Since B.Smith was a public figure, a lot of people remember her during her modeling career and in her second career as a restauranteur and a cookbook writer and a television personality. Unless this video is being used in a beneficial, teaching moment way, and unless B.Smith fully agreed to being publicly exposed before she completely lost her memory and her normal functioning abilities, something about the video is not only sad, it's a bit off-putting.

I can sympathize with what Mr. Gasby has been suffering through, but the video seems more like a p.r. effort on his part used to try and justify his situation and his choices. If his girlfriend had been a dear friend of B.Smith's beforehand, and there existed some kind of mutual agreement for this type of arrangement, that might be different. Or Gasby and his girlfriend and his daughter, if they felt it was important to speak publicly, they might have explained the situation without intruding so much on B.Smith's privacy. I know that Alzheimer's can render someone childlike, but again in respecting who that person used to be, I would try to avoid characterizing them as a child, or as a pet. Again, on the outside looking in, it's easy to judge too harshly, particularly not knowing all the details involved.

I have a friend who cared for her sick husband later in their lives. Her husband used to be an actor and a film director. He had contracted a very rare disease which rendered him physically incapacitated, but the excruciating thing is that although his body, motor skills and speech skills slowly deteriorated, his mental functioning was still there trapped inside his body. My friend cared for her husband until she herself became sick and had to be hospitalized for a short time. Her husband lived longer than the doctors anticipated due to the loving care he received, largely from his wife with some in-home assistance and supportive visits by other family members and friends. Life is definitely hard and unanticipated things can happen.
 
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