If Alvin had to live his life all over again, he would spend his time “just outdoors.” His love of nature stems from fond memories of childhood. Growing up in the Cayman Islands, he recalls “climbing trees, trying to see who could get the furthest out on a limb, or who could go the farthest out on the tree branch without breaking it or without falling down.”
Alvin’s caregiver, Sandra, encourages him to write down these positive memories to preserve them. However, as soon as Alvin starts writing, he finds his memory “just shut[s] off,” like a tap of water that’s now turned off. “That tells me how limited I am now,” he says.
Still, Alvin calls his memory “precious” because “it contains all the things” he needs. When he can’t write, he relies on Sandra to become “a diary to my memories,” he says, because “she can remember things I tell her and things that have happened.”
In addition to his writing, Alvin finds his speech now more “restrained” compared to before. This eats away at his confidence and bothers him a lot. He explains, “I have in my mind very fluently…what it is I want to say. Once I open my mouth, I just lose track. I can’t latch onto what it is that I’m trying to say or present. I just can’t get the words.”
These problems have made it difficult for him to do things he was once good at, like give speeches. Alvin was once recruited to speak for the AARP due to his contagious energy and stage presence. While his first speech received widespread praise, he had to decline offers to speak again for fear of forgetting words on stage. As he put it, “I don’t want to go up and for a moment, read and there’s silence because I can’t remember.”
Even though Alvin has fears about his memory, he is not one to give up. “Right now, I have to do everything to try to strengthen my memory,” he says. For example, he uses four calendars placed strategically in spaces he frequents to remind him of upcoming events.
While Alvin is still coming to terms with how his memory is getting worse as he’s getting older, he’s trying to become more accepting of change. He says, “Aging can be painful, but it can be more painful if you dwell on it. I have to get off of that [mindset]. I’ve made progress.”
For an expert collector of masks from around the world, each an exquisite artifact designed to conceal and obscure, Bob is surprisingly candid, particularly when it comes to living with dementia.
An artist-turned-adman and the oldest of four children, he was the caretaker of his disabled sister in her first few years. Later in life she suffered and died from early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Bob has no delusions about what lies ahead. “There is steady deterioration,” he says. “I know where this goes.”
But Bob's diagnosis has not prevented him from pursuing his passions. Having exhibited his collection of masks at the Lancaster Museum of Art and published a book on the subject in 2015, he is now reconceptualizing his website, a resource and platform for collectors and enthusiasts of masks.
He has embraced technology, such as voice-activated virtual assistants such as Siri, for its potential to aid his memory and improve daily life, but learning to use new tools has proven to be challenging. Reflecting on the untapped benefits of recent technological advances, Bob had a thought: “Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had some organization, organizations, that would be interested in helping people with MCI and other forms of brain deterioration learn to use these devices in a way that really is a big help to them?"
Just as Bob embraces the new, so too does he continue to experience the joy of lifelong hobbies. He continues to take great pleasure in cycling, though he understands it is something he will have to give up eventually as his condition worsens. But art making, particularly drawing, seems to be one of those things that is unaffected by MCI.
“I think I’m at a point in my life where doing something well with ease is a great thing for my ego,” he says about drawing. “And it can be enjoyable.”
Living with MCI can be fraught with frustrations. Learning to use new technology, keeping track of medications, or even driving a car can feel challenging in unprecedented ways. But Carl does not let these difficulties define him. Early in life, he left a burgeoning career in banking to become a juvenile probation officer. Though driven by a desire make a difference, his motivations were far from grandiose. “If you can help one other person,” he says, “that’s pretty good.”
Today, Carl continues to find ways to give back by participating in medical research studies, which has provided him with a sense of purpose and community. Getting involved in studies ranging from Parkinson’s disease to sleep disorders has, in his wife’s words, “done more for him than the medication that he takes… because it gives him hope for the future,” even if there are no direct benefits to Carl himself.
In addition to his interests in medical research, Carl is an avid appreciator of art and music. Over the years, he has developed a particular fondness for Asian art. “There is a certain peace, serenity, and calmness that exists in Asian art that doesn’t exist in large parts of Western art,” he says. “I look towards art for that kind of pleasure.” Music can be similarly therapeutic for Carl, who likes to use Pandora Radio for hard-to-find tracks. Unlike his focused taste in art, however, his enjoyment of music spans many genres, including everything from Jefferson Airplane, Phillip Glass, to Olatunji Drums of Passion.
Citing the company of his family and loved ones as “the best medicine out there,” Carl reflects, “As life goes on the goal remains the same, it’s to stay alive, but the players change constantly… If you can go through life and constantly meet new friends and have new relationships and hopefully they’re positive ones, so much the better.”
In Christopher’s home, there hangs a framed letter on official White House stationery. It is a letter dated December 21, 1963 from Vice President Herbert Humphrey, expressing his gratitude to Christopher for his dedication and service under the Kennedy Administration. Today, it serves as a reminder to Christopher of his professional achievements throughout his decorated career in international relations and foreign affairs.
Christopher is a man of the world. He surrounds himself with mementos of his travels and, together with his wife, has charted their globetrotting adventures on the world map that now adorns their living room. The map, Christopher says, is a way for him and his wife to remember “something that is a major part of both of us."
Christopher continues to engage with the world by staying informed on current events through newspapers and TV news broadcasts. Reading, in particular, has become an important way for Christopher to cope with his MCI. "I would say over the last couple of years my memory has slowly been fading,” he says, "So I read a lot. I read the New York Times every day, in depth, I don’t just thumb through it."
His exploration of the world also extends to his own neighborhood, Rittenhouse Square. An avid walker, Christopher firmly believes that physical and mental activity are deeply entwined. “I'm interested in the world, so I’m interested in memory, and the Penn Memory Center."
If forgetfulness is a nick in the fabric of everyday life, Delores mends it with systems of reminders—a stitch for every challenge she faces. She acknowledges the limitations of her memory and is invested in completing those simple tasks that carry great importance to healthy living. Keeping things in plain sight is a helpful strategy for remembering everything from taking her daily cholesterol medication, staying hydrated, to bringing groceries home from the car.
Maintaining connections to the wider world is equally important to Delores. Lines of communication hinge upon the functioning of her mobile and home phones, so remembering to routinely charge those devices requires the development of routines aided by sticky note reminders. “If I [charge the phone] every day,” she says, "then that will help me to not forget until it gets down to the very lowest level."
A mail sorting system allows Delores to keep better track of her bills and, perhaps just as importantly, maintain participation in social and professional organizations such as the Philadelphia Alliance of Black Social Workers, of which she is a member, that bring continuity to a life that can feel fragmented by MCI.
Food may be a means of sustenance for some, but it is a source of joy for Donna. Much of her life evolves around the planning and preparation of food, both professionally and personally. She worked at Whole Foods for three years. “I was a demo person,” she says. “I did meatless Mondays, I had my own recipes and I was happy.”
Now retired, Donna scours the web for new recipes to try and improve with her own customizations. Her most recent discovery: kabocha squash soup. “I found [the recipe] on the computer. I kind of like to put my own spin on it… to me everything tastes better roasted. I roasted the squash first… I added a little coconut milk and it was really, really good.”
Donna's passion for cooking can also be a source of frustrations at times. Having recently been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, she now has to be more careful about her diet and keep better track of what she eats, which can be difficult. “I’m trying to be diligent about what I eat, what I don’t eat, what I can have and what I can’t have,” she says. “It gets to be challenging because somehow I’m like, ‘What did I eat?’… I find that I have to go back to the book, because I can’t always remember what I can have all right.”
Donna is focusing on developing a better system for organizing her recipes in order to accommodate her MCI. Still adjusting to life with MCI, she says, “It’s one thing to know you have something, and it’s another thing to accept that.”
Doris is no stranger to loss: the loss of her first son in infancy, her second son to incarceration, her grandmother and many aunts and uncles to Alzheimer’s disease, and now, her own memory. But having received her MCI diagnosis, “I was more relieved than scared, because I suspected it,” she says. “Matter of fact, I think it helps a lot… because I’m aware of it now. I monitor myself.”
Doris surrounds herself with a caring network of friends, who support each other through companionship and shared spirituality. A member of the Gospel Temple Baptist Church since the 1970s, she has forged close friendships with other members of the congregation, who support each other with both the mundane errands of everyday living and through significant personal losses, such as the death of a loved one. They check in on each other daily, go grocery shopping, and pray together. Delores says of a close friend, "She's been a big help to me in my life and adjusting to whatever comes along, no matter what goes on, I can call her anytime, day or night.”
An accountant for a funeral home, Doris enjoys the challenge of a good crossword puzzle and conversations with her neighbor’s inquisitive seven-year-old son. “He's good therapy for me. He drives me crazy asking all these questions, but I answer them, because he doesn't know, but it's helping me and my memory.”
Although the diagnosis of MCI has been helpful to Doris, she is aware of how such a label affects how she is perceived by others. “I don't think that the whole world need to know. If the time's come that they need to know, then I share it, but right now, it's something that I have to deal with first.”
Few hobbies rely more heavily on memory than acting, so when Gerson began to experience increasing difficulty with memorizing lines for his community theater productions, he had to give up this beloved activity. But that has not stopped him from finding ways to continue his engagement with the dramatic arts. Now, he serves as a prompter during rehearsals for multiple theaters and takes a play reading course at Temple University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, where he is also enrolled in a chair yoga class.
A psychology researcher who specialized in driver behavior, Gerson firmly believes in the importance of participating in research studies. “It has always been my feeling that anything I can do to advance knowledge, I would be happy to do,” he says. Aside from being a lifelong learner, Gerson enjoys the simple pleasures of everyday routines with his wife of 56 years. Each day at 4 p.m., the couple sits down for wine and cheese in their living room, a tradition of many years. “It’s a relaxing time; something that we look forward to,” says his wife, Estelle. “It’s very much a part of our day.”
Gerson’s reliance on his wife has increased as his short-term memory became increasingly affected by his MCI. “What's available to me for my memory is Estelle,” he says. “She accompanies me wherever I go, and handles the details more so than [I] can ever do, and I'm really dependent upon her to do that.” Adjusting to the role of caretaker has been a source of stress for Estelle, who is now responsible for everything from paying bills to organizing medication. “When she reminds me of something that I don't want to be reminded of, and I think I should know myself, it's difficult for me,” Gerson says, “and it's difficult for her.”
Jack was “born and raised in the mountains of Western North Carolina.” For college, he stayed within the state, attending Duke University and studying chemistry. He later pursued a doctoral degree in biochemistry at the University of Florida and then worked in labs in Philadelphia in the 1970s. Later on, he transitioned to more interdisciplinary work at Penn’s Wharton School, where he taught statistics, computing, and math there for the remainder of his professional career.
Despite the fact that Jack retired several years ago, Penn continues to be an important element of his daily routine. Each morning, Jack spends half hour to forty-five minutes sitting on a comfortable bench on the Penn campus, peoplewatching. After leaving his post on the bench, Jack traverses toward one of the nearby libraries, where he spends time reading and enjoying the open stacks. He says his morning routine “keeps me grounded.”
He maintains a list of the people he says “howdy” to during his morning rounds. Nearly all of the people on Jack’s “howdy” list go back five or more years, several of them being former colleagues, grounds keepers, and other morning people. As a result, his morning route has not yet challenged his memory, likely because he acknowledges that, after over 45 years of affiliation with Penn, some “things [in his memory] are probably really stuck there.” For Jack, afternoons are more malleable. Once he arrives home, Jack usually lounges or runs errands with his wife.
He explains that his afternoons have not yet challenged his memory, since the tasks he completes are usually delegated by his wife. Jack has, however, had a few moments in which he nearly forgot a “morning howdy” partner’s name. These moments of forgetfulness are unsettling to him because “you don’t like to think that your brain’s getting soft, and besides which, it’s embarrassing if you forget things.” In pondering the future of the morning routine that has become so integral to Jack’s typical day, he thought aloud, “I don’t want to be sitting on my bench one of these days and not remember how to get home.”
Taking proactive measures to preserve the routine that grounds him, Jack uses his cell phone and a notepad to keep important information saved in several places. He acknowledges that, in the same way he is prevented from sitting on his favorite bench in winter due to the cold weather, he may have to modify his morning routine to accommodate the shifts that can result from MCI.
Eight years ago, Jean left the suburbs of Philadelphia, where she had grown up and lived for most of her life, and moved to Center City, marking the beginning of her love affair with this vibrant city. “I love the view, and I look out the window a lot,” she says, “There’s always something going on."
She is always busy, she says. Starting with coffee each morning, Jean would plan her entire day. “I need my memory, and it helps me figure out. I'll sit down with my cup of coffee and figure out what I'm going to do that day, and that's part of remembering, to me.”
Although Jean admits that she has become less social since symptoms of cognitive impairment began to develop, she is determined to reengage with her wide network of friends. She has never shied away from her closest friends, however, who support each other through life’s many ups and downs. Jean says of one friend of 26 years, “She just lost her husband. My job is to keep her happy, so we go out a lot.”
In fact, Jean's active social life could easily rival that of any millennial. Recalling a girlfriend’s visit to Philly, she recounts, “We hopped [in] a cab ... Uber, actually. We went back to my place and regrouped and then went out to The Prime Rib… We actually closed the place, because I know the bartenders there, and I know a lot of people that hang at that bar. We had a really fun time.”
When Jean is not out on the town with her girlfriends, she can be found walking around the city, at the gym, reading the newspaper, listening to jazz, or in the kitchen preparing meals for family and friends. All of these things, she does in spite of her fear of what may happen if her memory continues to deteriorate. “Even though I watched my Mom get a little forgetful and so on, I never thought it would be me,” she says. “I don’t want that to happen to me. I’m trying to work on it.”
Joanne’s mind is one that works best when stimulated. “I’m a multi-tasker, all my life.” she says. When she is not reading or playing brain exercise games on her computer, she is taking care of her four pets, preparing meals for family gatherings, or attending physical therapy and doctor’s appointments.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, she is the second-oldest of six children. After losing her only son, an Air Force veteran, she singlehandedly raised her four young grandchildren until they reached adulthood. The nurturing instinct in Joanne has found a new group of beneficiaries in her pets—two dogs and two cats that require much attention and care.
"This little Yorkie of mine has cataracts… and I have to put medicine in her eyes,” she says. “I don't have to do it daily, but pretty much weekly and, when I forget, which I do at times, her eyes are so crusty. We work so hard to try to clean it up.”
The demands of taking care of her pets can be taxing, particularly when Joanne maintains such a busy schedule. But she recognizes and values highly the benefits of an active and healthy lifestyle, and of an engaged mind.
“I come out of a family of readers,” she says. “When [my siblings and I] were younger… at one given time, all of us could be reading.”
Nowadays, Joanne reads the newspaper regularly and sometimes rereads certain sections to help the information sink in.
Reflecting upon her diagnosis of MCI, Joanne says, " I think it's a normal process of aging. Maybe it isn't, but I feel it is because I saw my mom go through it, my aunt, my grandmother… Being diagnosed, I know I'm not that bad because… I know what I'm doing and I can still drive. I can still do everything.”
Kathleen is no stranger to memory loss. In her 30 years working as a nursing supervisor in nursing homes, Kathleen helped open a dementia care unit for the Sisters of St. Francis Foundation. It was a “wonderful experience,” she says, and cites helping others as her passion. “I love nursing, nursing is who I am.”
Despite her love for her job, Kathleen was forced to retire several years ago due to memory problems that interfered with her ability to carry out her work. MCI, for Kathleen, can therefore feel like an insurmountable obstacle keeping her from pursuing her passion.
These challenges have also changed the way Kathleen carries out her daily activities. For example, she often feels embarrassed when shopping for groceries. Though Kathleen plans carefully and makes up a list of groceries before she goes out, these still don’t prepare her for the cashier line, where she struggles to find the right cards to pay. Similarly, with banking, she usually spends more time than before looking for her bank card and worries about holding up the line for the people behind her.
Kathleen has also felt the effects of her MCI socially. Once the “gregarious” one in her friend group, Kathleen is “not quite as outgoing” as she was before and fears making “a fool” of herself when she’s out. She says, “the words that come out of my mouth [sometimes] have no relationship whatsoever to the topic we’re speaking on.” If this happens in public, she cringes a little inside.
“Sometimes it feels isolating,” Kathleen says of her MCI. She points to a picture of Assateague ponies and explains she identifies with the one lagging behind the rest. “That’s how I feel when I’m with a group of people.”
For Kathleen, getting out of the house is the first step towards fighting these feelings of isolation, but it’s “an uphill climb all the way.” To scale this climb, she has learned to rely on close friends who take her out regardless and don’t take no for an answer. She appreciates how they haven’t treated her differently since her diagnosis. “Friends are blessings,” she says.
Kathleen’s husband of almost 50 years, Bob, also provides an endless supply of support and good humor. “The craziest things come out of my mouth and I can laugh with him and not cringe or feel upset,” she says. With him, she can joke about her MCI-related antics, including the one time she asked him to drive her to a store that had been closed for over 10 years. Laughter, she feels, is the best and only way she can respond to her memory problems.
As Kathleen navigates a new normal with her MCI, she looks to flowers for hope and courage. Over the past few months, Kathleen has started taking care of some plants, including a particularly resilient hibiscus tree. She says, “No matter how much I abuse this thing with water or without water, it still eventually gives me a beautiful bloom. Not all the buds fall off, the very pretty ones stay there. I think it’s courageous, they’re courageous. They keep fighting no matter what.”
Michele’s life has always been one of routine. On a typical day, she would wake up before 6am, have coffee and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air in the kitchen, leave for work at 7:30am, and arrive at her office by 8am. Michele is a hospital social worker, handling “large case loads” for an underserved community of uninsured patients, homeless seniors, drug addicts, and psychiatric patients. “You hit the hospital and it’s stressful,” she says. “The population that I serve, it’s very needy.”
Outside of her demanding professional life, Michele would visit her mother, who suffers from dementia, on Mondays and Wednesdays, go to church with her husband and relative on Saturdays, and set aside Sundays for relaxation and cooking. “I really try not to do anything on Sundays. I like that to be my peaceful day,” she says. “I like to cook. I love to be in a kitchen.”
However, with increasing signs of cognitive deterioration, Michele is prepared to transition to a less stressful lifestyle. Making plans for herself and her husband Alan has been a complicated process. “Do we downsize and go into a condominium? Do we downsize and go into a retirement community where we can get the services?” she says. “That's why I said we're at this crossroad… That's the biggest challenge for me, I must say.”
Whatever their decision, Michele is content with her life. “[Alan and I] had a good life together, and a respectful life. We like each other and we are respectful,” she reflects. “We have a respectful household. We've certainly raised our children in that way… It's a peaceful house. It's a nice home.”
As someone who has traveled all over the world for his job at the Associated Press and for his service during the Vietnam War, Robert makes it a point to keep up with the news every day. Every morning, he receives and reads the Inquirer over breakfast or lunch. He also maintains a running subscription to Time, which he’s held since 1964. A habit formed in childhood, he explains, “[reading the news] is routine and instinctive and just something I’ve always done, so I continue to do it.” He says his MCI hasn’t affected it yet. “I read a lot and I seem to remember what I read pretty clearly.”
Every day, Robert also makes it a point to practice guitar. A habit started in retirement, guitar was something Robert made time for after his travels for work ended. He now practices for half an hour most days and attends lessons once a week. In comparison to his daily habit of reading the news, Robert says playing guitar is an activity he does to keep him on his toes. “It’s a mind exercise, but it’s also a discipline exercise,” he explains. “Playing guitar is muscle memory. You’re training your hand to go to the right strings.” Like how he’s training his fingers, Robert is also training his mind through his daily activities because he views it as something he can work hard at to improve.
For example, Robert plays card games like bridge on a weekly basis “specifically to keep [his] mind sharp.” He attributes the lack of problems he’s encountered in the games to practice. “The more you play, the better off you are,” he says. “[Strategy] really is good for your mind.” In addition, Robert keeps the body that houses his brain in good condition by going to the gym nearly every day, even when he’s in Florida, where he spends six months during the winters. The purpose of training on the elliptical or with weights is “to get my heart rate up and keep me ticking.” These demanding mental and physical activities form the backbone of Robert’s day-to-day life.
Robert does concede his memory is not as sharp as it used to be. But he says he hasn’t seen any challenges emerging in his daily life because of it. He says, “If I have this cognitive memory loss, it is extremely minimal. I remember in great detail things from my childhood. I remember in great detail growing up and going through things and meeting people. I’ve always had a good memory of people's faces. I’ve always had a poor memory of people’s names. It takes me a while to bring the name back, but once I see someone I never forget them.”
His wife, Marge, however, disagrees with his assessment of his memory. “She recognize[s] things that I don't remember or we don’t remember the same things the same way,” Robert says. These discrepancies often come up when he’s driving and recalling directions.
Looking into the future, Robert says, “I would hate to lose my memories. I would hate to get lost and not remember where I am.” However, because he hasn’t faced that prospect quite yet, he notes, “I don’t have a great deal of fears of memory loss.”
On a typical day, Susan’s life revolves around doing things she enjoys with the people she loves most—her family. Each week, she would drive from her home on the shore to visit her children and babysit her grandkids. “We go for walks. We’ll go out in the backyard. We have a swing set and we’ll swing or we’ll just toss the ball.” What could make days like this even better? Ice cream. “I love ice cream. It’s just a relaxing thing,” Susan says. “When I eat it… I don’t worry about anything. I’m just eating ice cream.”
Getting the whole family together—Susan and her husband have five children—can be difficult, but for their 30th anniversary, everyone gathered to celebrate the special occasion on a cruise vacation. Reflecting upon how her memory impairment has affected her relationship with her family, Susan admitted that there are moments of frustration, but overall, “I think it’s made it stronger,” she says.
But that is not to say MCI has not had a profound impact on Susan’s life. Her husband noted that she has given up many of her old hobbies and activities, such as reading, cooking, baking, and bookkeeping. The challenges of memory loss and the uncertainty of the future weigh down on Susan, who saw her plight in a leafless tree. “I could see it from right out the window and I said that’s how I feel sometimes… It looks like it’s dying.” Then, “I saw the flowering tree and I said I wish I could just come out of this and be the same as I was.”
With her husband’s support and encouragement, she is committed to changing her life for the better. Reminded of her love for books, she is determined try to begin reading again. She hopes to overcome her anxieties and socialize more. She wants to motivate herself to exercise more, and maybe finally sign up for that yoga class. "Life's about enjoying yourself, enjoying your family, and we have opportunities to do that.”
A self-described lifelong walker, Terraine is always on the go. She exercises and prays every day, and makes cards for friends frequently. All rewarding in their own way, these activities do not exist without challenges.
Making cards has been a long-term hobby Terraine enjoys, but memory problems can also make it a stressful endeavor. Terraine has difficulty pairing colors, designing new images to mirror existing ones, and remembering where she placed her crafting materials.
When she was growing up, Terraine feared getting in trouble and upsetting her father. She says that whenever he asked her a question under those circumstances, “I would blank out…the fear gripped me so much I couldn’t tell [him the answer].” She wonders if her MCI diagnosis is related to this phenomenon as she says of the childhood experience: “This could trigger off a cognitive problem because all my life…if it’s something that [gives me fear], I just blank out. I always wonder just how much of it is, or if it is, cognitive, or if it’s something that’s trained. I’m a firm believer [that if] you do something long enough, it becomes part of your DNA.”
Terraine cites the social stigma associated with MCI as the most difficult part of living with the condition. She does not want to be taken as weak or incompetent, and it can frustrating when others view her as such. She becomes aggravated when others act like she is using the diagnosis out of convenience or when they use it as a scapegoat for things that go wrong. She says, “I don’t know any MCI person wearing a sign, stating they have MCI when they are dealing with society and the system, to get special treatment. For me, having MCI doesn’t bother me so much as how people will use this condition against you.”
Due in part to this frustration, Terraine does many tasks on her own. She is the sole caregiver for her older brother, Donald, who is bedridden with muscular dystrophy. She feels that “MCI, and the problems, challenges, and labeling, is stressful enough,” and the full-time caregiving responsibility creates an additional strain.
However, caregiving is one area where her memory remains reliably strong. Terraine has not once forgotten about Donald when caring for him. She says, “I do forget some things, but I don’t forget when it comes to him.”
Thomas, a pediatric anesthesiologist from Ottawa who spent most of his career caring for patients at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is keenly aware of the unique perspective his medical training provides him when it comes to living with his cognitive condition. “What’s Alzheimer’s? I know exactly what it looks like in the brain. If you weren’t a physician or a nurse… I don’t think you could tolerate it like I do. I think you couldn’t believe what’s happening."
For Thomas, social engagement and spiritual connectedness are vital. Regular church visits and frequent prayers bring a sense of peace and safety. “I believe in prayer,” he says. “When there's something that's not going just right, you pray and the Lord answers me every time.” Thomas relishes the companionship of his wife and, more recently, of their dog Charlotte, whom he walks three times a day and describes as “our best friend.” Visiting the neighborhood Starbucks has become part of the family’s daily routine; as for their favorite treats, a salted caramel and a cherry oat bar hit the spot.
Thomas attends a weekly MCI support group at the Penn Memory Center, where he has connected with other patients to share their experiences. "Sometimes you hear solutions to things that you haven't thought of that Joe Blow thought about it,” he says. "It's good to know that other people are battling the same problem.”