"We typically see Alzheimer's as a disease of old age, of frail, weak people near the ends of their lives," said Dr. Goldstein. "That's not B.
"B. is bright, dynamic, active, energetic, engaged, eloquent. B. sharing her story can change the game in terms of how people see Alzheimer's."
Gasby said, "She has it. We have it. We gotta deal it. More people are gonna have it. And you know what? If you don't talk about it, you're not going to make a difference."
Now, B. Smith is a patient, and Dan is one of more than 15 million unpaid caretakers for people with Alzheimer's.
Dan plays memory games with B., because doctors say it's important to keep her brain stimulated.
"Do you remember when I first met you?" he asked.
"What day of the week?"
"It was a holiday that-when we first met. . . . It was Thanksgiving."
There is no cure for Alzheimer's.
And because of the degenerative nature of the disease, the Alzheimer's Association says it's important for families to discuss care plans sooner rather than later, so loved ones aren't left to make important decisions on their own.
Which is why LaPook asked B.: "What would you want for him 10 years from now if you get to the point where you really need care all the time?"
"What I would want for him is, I would want for him to have good health. I would want for him to be able to not have to take care of me. And if I had to have somebody else take care of me, that would be hopefully fine, too."
Gasby told her, "I'll be there."
Her symptoms have progressed. But B. has the same positive outlook that's made her famous.
"Even with Alzheimer's, I think that things are gonna work out," she said. "I'm gonna do my best to make it work out for me, and for as many people that I can possibly help, too."
But enormous challenges await her, even as she puts a beautiful face on a terrible illness.
Gasby told Smith, "I love you."
"I love you, too," she cried. "I'm lucky to have you as my husband, and best friend."
"I'm lucky to have you, too."
For more info:
- Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet, National Institute on Aging
- "The Longest Day" (June 21, 2014)
- From the Alzheimer's Association:
I Have Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's & Dementia Caregiver Center
Financial and Legal Planning
- Alzheimer's Foundation of America
- Alzheimer's Disease (Web MD)