Peter Marshall, 56, has early onset Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that afflicts people from their 30’s to 60’s, and makes up about 10% of all Alzheimer’s cases.
For the past six months, he has thought of his wife Lisa as his favorite caregiver.
But while watching a wedding scene on TV, he suddenly looked at her and said, “Let’s do it!”
She said, “You want to get married?” And he assured her, he did.
In January Peter’s memory started declining quickly, so 20 years after their romance began, her husband had proposed again, and it seemed like a great idea to renew their vows.
Lisa’s daughter, conveniently, was a wedding planner. She contacted a dozen or so vendors to help her plan a wedding within six weeks, and they volunteered their services at no cost. Officiating the vows was Adrianne DeVivo, a dementia specialist at Hartford Healthcare who helped Lisa Marshall set up a care plan for her husband, and is licensed to perform weddings.
Peter’s diagnosis came in 2018, and by January 2019, he had to quit his job. A year later, Lisa quit her job as well, to become his full time caregiver. And since the wedding his decline has rapidly continued. He spends an hour making his bed each day, and Lisa gets respite care for him five days a week at an adult care center. A bus picks him up and brings him back home, where they will sit on the front porch holding hands for an hour.
On difficult days, she remembers what her husband told her as they danced to their favorite song, “Brown-Eyed Girl,” after they renewed their wedding vows.
“He whispered in my ear, ‘Thank you for staying.’ ”
This story was covered at the Washington Post.