Recognizing And Dealing With A Parent’s Dementia

When dementia comes. “Father of the Bride” and “Nashville” star Kimberly Williams-Paisley opens up about facing — dealing with — her mother’s dementia.

Kimberly and Ashley with their mother Lynn Williams in 2003. (Jonathan Skow / Corbis)

Kimberly and Ashley with their mother Linda Williams in 2003. (Jonathan Skow / Corbis)

When a parent hits dementia, it’s a tough passage for any family.  Every family.  Actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley had, literally, a Hollywood life.  Starred young in “Father of the Bride.”  Starred in TV’s “Nashville.”  Married to country music superstar Brad Paisley.  But when her mom, Linda, was hit at 61 with early dementia, this daughter’s family was hit like anyone else’s.  She’s written movingly about the denial and confusion and decline.  About the emotions and upheaval and, finally, acceptance.  This hour On Point:  when dementia hits home, with Kimberly Williams-Paisley.

– Tom Ashbrook


Kimberly Williams-Paisley, actor and director. (@Kimwilliamspais)

Darby Morhardt, clinical social worker, associate professor at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

Gurney Williams, father of Kimberly Williams.

From Tom’s Reading List

Redbook: “How I Faced My Mother’s Dementia” — “Nine years ago, it was my mother’s turn for a horrifying, life-changing moment. She was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia (PPA) at age 61. It’s a degenerative brain disease, a form of dementia with no treatment or cure. Since then, I’ve watched a passionately joyful woman, a devoted mother, an engaged listener and friend deteriorate and transform into someone almost unrecognizable. It’s been agonizing to slowly lose her.”

The Guardian: Dementia care: what should housing providers offer? — “One in three people aged over 65 will die with dementia, and it is thought that more than 60% of all care home residents aged over 65 have a form of the condition. Dementia is one of the main causes of disability later in life – ahead of cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke.”

HBO: The Alzheimer’s Project — “There are currently 10 million Americans providing 8.5 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s disease or otherdementias, according to an estimate from the Alzheimer’s Association. Seventy percent of people with Alzheimer’s live at home, cared for by family and friends.”

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