Justice O'Connor's lost love: The Swamp
 
The Swamp
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Posted November 13, 2007 12:20 PM
The Swamp

by James Oliphant

From USA Today comes the rather stunning tale of former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor and her husband, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.

John O’Connor, 77, who lives in facility that provides him with full-time care, has apparently found a new romance with a woman who also lives at the Phoenix home.

The item is written by Joan Biskupic, who is Sandra Day O’Connor’s biographer, and cites an Arizona TV report that quotes O’Connor’s son, Scott, saying “Mom was thrilled that Dad was relaxed and happy and comfortable living here and wasn’t complaining.” The woman was referred to as “Kay.” He also compared his father to a "teenager in love."

It isn’t uncommon for Alzheimer’s sufferers to develop romantic attachments to those who are part of their circle, the article says. But anyone who has read about O’Connor’s devotion to her husband (it was the reason she retired from the high court in 2005) and about the high-spirited social life the two shared in Phoenix before O’Connor joined the court couldn’t help but feel some pronounced empathy for her situation.

She appears to be handling it with grace. “Justice O’Connor is certainly to be commended. . . for raising awareness and helping to reduce stigmas,” says Peter Reed, who directs Alzheimer’s programs in Chicago, in the USA Today story.

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Comments

My mother suffered from Alzheimer's for about 15 years before her death about 4 years ago at age 75 (she was only 61 when diagnosed). These patients deserve any element of happiness and contetment they can muster in their limited world. In addition, I think the spouses and caregivers deserve to have their own happiness and contentment, even if it means developing friendships that might otherwise be considered inappropriate. It nearly killed my dad trying to care for Mom before she was so advanced it was impossible to care for her at home. There is a book titled (I think) "The 36 Hour Day" that all patients' loved ones should read that correctly describes the plight of families and patients dealing with this disease. It truly does seem like 36-hour days. 24/7 with no relief.. it's very sad.
Sounds like the O'Connor family knows the disease and understands the patient and the effects the disease has on him. God bless them and their family in this difficult time.


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