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Alzheimer's disease: After a couple from diagnosis to the last stage

Mike and Carol Daly are married for 53 years. Like more than five million American families, they have dementia. Carol suffers from Alzheimer's, the main type of dementia.

What makes this story so unusual is that we interviewed Mike and Carol almost every year for the past 10 years when Alzheimer's took over her brain. Although this is very personal, they wanted us all to see the devastating effects of Alzheimer's in each of them for over a decade.


When we first met Carol and Mike in 2008, Carol was active, conversational, and determined to make the most of her failed memory.

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Carol and Mike Daly talk to Dr. Jonathan LaPook in 2008, beginning their lives with Alzheimer's

CBS News

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: How old are you now?

Carol Daly: 65. 65? Yes. I think so, right?

Mike Daly: Yes.

Carol's memory had been stained for several years.

Mike Daly: I noticed it at home. And I joked about it to my kids. I would say you know, "I think she has Alzheimer's as she forgets everything."

Then a doctor told her that she really had Alzheimer's. Mike's mother had had it. Now his wife

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: Carol, when you heard the word "Alzheimer's", what did that matter to you?

Carol Daly: I was devastated. Because I saw his mother, what she went through. It is terrible. She walked through the streets in the middle of the night. And we had to bring her home.

When Carol's memory worsened, she lost her job at a bank and lost her ability to do much that she had always done at home.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: Were you a good cook in the past?

Carol Daly: Yes.

Mike Daly: Oh yes.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: What happened?

Carol Daly: It has stopped. It – I just could not do it.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: What can not you do?

Carol Daly: At first I did not know what to do. The Meatloaf

Mike Daly: Oh, the meatloaf. That was the –

Carol Daly: It was awful. Could not eat it.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: Because?

Carol Daly: I do not know what I did with the ingredients or whatever. They just could not eat it.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: And you're tearing up. It's exciting for you.

Carol Daly: I do not want to be like this. I really do not. But …

"When we took our oath, it's good or bad, so I signed in."

Unable to concentrate, Carol had to give up reading and movies. Hard for someone who had worshiped Clark Gable

Carol Daly: Ooh, so handsome

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: So you remember that?

Carol Daly: I know that (laughs)

They told us that Carol's illness had brought them closer, but they feared the future.

Carol Daly: I fear my fear maybe to get worse. Worse, you know? And it would probably.


And it did. Almost three years later, when we returned, Carol had no idea how old she was.


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Carol Daly: 80? I dont know.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: You are actually 67

Carol Daly: 67

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: 67.

Carol Daly: Yes?

And what about her favorite actor?

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: Do you remember Clark Gable?

Carol Daly: Oh yes. That was my-yes.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: Who is he?

Carol Daly: Oh, (sighs) (laughs) I – I do not know now.

Now Mike, a former New York policeman, had to apply her make-up and dress her. But he told us this was his chance to repay everything Carol had done for him.

Mike Daly: She had a job. She cleaned the house. She did the laundry. She made the beds and she endured me. What has changed for us? Now I do the laundry. I make the beds. I help Carol.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: But you did not sign up for that?

Mike Daly: Yes, I did. When you, when we took our oath, it is good or bad. So I signed up for it at the beginning.

But Mike had gained nearly twenty pounds over the last two years and started taking pills to reduce anxiety and help him sleep.

Mike Daly: The thing is, I could sit here and pity myself. But what will that do for me?


At our next meeting, a year later, when Carol could not find words, she laughingly replied.

  jan-2012.jpg [19659006] Carol and Mike speak with Dr. Ing. LaPook

CBS News

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: What kind of thing?

Carol Daly: (laughs) No, that's not right.

And three years after our first visit, she constantly had to watch.

Carol Daly: I can not go out of my own power. Not so. So I always have to have someone.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: That's a bad feeling.

Carol Daly: Yes.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: You have lost your independence?

Carol Daly: Yup. But you do.

Mike Daly: After all these years, I can not give up. And I will keep trying. And I pray to God that she will go before me because I will not take her to a nursing home. I can handle it, but we live a life.


But this life was much harder when we came back two years later.


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Until then Carol could not remember her last name. Or this:

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: What's your husband's name?

Carol Daly: My husband?

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: The name of your husband?

Carol Daly: Yes.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: The guy is on your left.

Carol Daly: Yes. (Laughter)

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: This big guy who loves you.

Beyond memory loss, when Alzheimer's influenced more of her brain, it destroyed more of her physical abilities.

Mike Daly: She loses the ability to control her feet, her hands

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: I met you for the first time six years ago.

Mike Daly: Yes.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: And at the time you shouldered the whole load.

Mike Daly: Right.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: And you still shoulder all the load. I mean, how are your shoulders?

Mike Daly: You are sore. There is no doubt about that. But you have to do what you have to do.


At our next meeting, two years later, a conversation with Carol was impossible.

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Dr. LaPook with Carol and Mike in 2016

CBS News

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: It's been almost eight years since we met. Since we sat on this couch for the first time.

Carol Daly: (laughs)

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: Without embarrassing yourself, do you remember my name?

Carol Daly: No.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: What does that mean? What I wear on my wrist? What's it called?

Carol Daly: I do not know.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: It's a wristwatch.

Carol Daly: Oh yes.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: That sounds familiar?

Carol Daly: Yes.

Mike Daly: Carol reached a point where she could not do anything at all. She could not feed herself. Could not go to the bathroom alone.

And Mike had reached the point where he just could not take care of her alone. So he hired a home-care worker during the day, which cost nearly $ 40,000 a year. Now Alzheimer met her financially and physically.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: What would you say was the tribute of this long journey with you?

Mike Daly: I'm dying. I really think that it is me. The stress – they thought I had a heart attack.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: You had chest pains?

Mike Daly: They want to take me to the hospital. I can not go to the hospital. Alright? What do I do with Carol? Then she has anxiety attacks. Part of Alzheimer's disease

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: Anxiety attacks can be part of what happens to you, it also sounds like you have chest pains, but it was not a heart attack. Was that so? An anxiety attack?

Mike Daly: I called it stress.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, the biggest challenge for caregivers is emotional stress.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: I remember when you said, "No big deal, I can deal with it."

Mike Daly: Uh-huh, yes, I'm thinking about this comment and I said, what an idiot I was –

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: Well, not one – no idiot. But only you were somehow near the beginning of your journey and you did not know it.

Mike Daly: You know – I thought that was it, you know, so she can not remember things. So I see people with dementia. They work normally. She can not go. The impact on everyone else is enormous.


A year later, 14 years after her first diagnosis, Carol spent most of her time sitting still and not understanding any more questions.

  2017-2 .jpg 19659006] Mike, Carol and dr. LaPook in 2017

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Mike Daly: We can not communicate, it's lonely.

Dan Cohen: Let me just get them to keep going well.

But watch out what happened when social worker Dan Cohen hung up Carol's headset and played some of her old favorites.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: The words are not there, but the beat is – and the melody is, the melody is pretty good.

In Alzheimer's, older memories are usually the last. But even then, a faded, distant memory can be revived.

Dan Cohen: And since the music we love is really tied to our emotional system and our emotional system is still very intact, we connect and connect that still works.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: And it was also tied to his emotional system . He's tearing ..

Mike Daly: I think those tears were happy tears. To know that she did not lose everything. It was like, wow. Wow.


But the Wow did not stop.

"I love Carol, who was Carol, but now Carol is not Carol anymore."

When we met last January, Carol, now 74, was too far away to respond to music.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: Oh, she is so changed. Just since I last saw her.

Mike Daly: Uh-huh.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: And her pulse is as strong as possible, and regular, and I feel it right now. So her heart seems strong, but she has so deteriorated.

Earlier this morning, they showed us how hard it is to get Carol ready for the day.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: What did not you notice?

Mike Daly: That she becomes a vegetable. That's basically what I feel now.

Mike is still too heavy; his blood pressure is too high; and a few months ago, his thoughts were too dark.

Mike Daly: I'm ready to put the gun to my head. I was really thinking of suicide.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: Really?

Mike Daly: Yes. It came to this point.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: Caregiving is really tough.

Mike Daly: The hardest job I've ever had.

And that's from a former New York cop. But suicidal thoughts are not uncommon for people looking after a family member with dementia. Mike has hired more helpers, so Carol now has 24 hours help. It saves his savings, but allows him to come out of the house and make new friends. And that helps lift his depression.

Mike Daly: I leave that at home, and when I go out it's a new Mike out there.

But at home he worries that Carol is in danger.

DR. Jonathan LaPook: Did you like it?

Mike Daly: Yes.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: She has not broken any bones yet?

Mike Daly: No, only bruises. No.

So now, despite years telling us, he would not put Carol in a nursing home.

Mike Daly: I come to the point where maybe a nursing home is the answer for them, their safety.

Ten days later, and 53 years after her wedding day, Mike took Carol to a nursing home.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook: Do you still love her?

Mike Daly: I love Carol, who was Carol. But Carol is not Carol anymore.

When Carol was Carol, it would have been the best time to discuss the kind of custody decisions Mike Daly had to deal with on his own. Mike hopes that sharing such intimate details of their lives will help others to be better prepared than themselves.

Produced by Robert G. Anderson, Deborah Rubin, Aaron Weisz, Amy Birnbaum and Kevin Finnegan

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