Alzheimer’s Disease

Psychologist Constance Vincent is clear about the reason she wrote her book Not Going Gently: A Psychologist Fights Back against Alzheimer’s Disease for Her Mother. . .and Perhaps Herself. If not obvious from the title, she reiterates: “Alzheimer’s is not something we can ignore. There is something we can do, not only to prevent it but also to take better care of people who have the disease.”

As the daughter of a father who suffered from dementia and a mother who has Alzheimer’s disease, Constance, who has lived in Menlo Park since 1988, knows she carries the potential for developing a dementing illness. A long-distance caregiver for her mother the past eight years, Constance said, “I began to study and read as much as I could about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in order to learn the best diet, the best supplements, and the best activities that would help save my mother. I was ready to fight back.

“There is so much denial about this disease, I think, because we don’t know what causes it, and there is no cure. I think many people are more afraid of it than cancer.”

Constance was an Associate Professor of Psychology at Chapman University for a number of years before teaching classes on aging at Santa Clara University. She serves her community by presenting for the Alzheimer’s Speakers Bureau and supporting senior programs through Peninsula Volunteers.

Deciding to write the book was partly a result of Constance’s conversations with her mother. “She started telling me her feelings, and I started taking notes,” Constance said. “She was in a senior residential care facility and had hopes as well as fears.”

Later, her mother lost her vision, the result of a cataract. She was also restricted to a wheelchair. “Loneliness and depression exacerbated her condition, I believe,” said Constance.

Her book is a mother-daughter memoir fused with the latest research into the causes of Alzheimer’s as well as prevention plans that include nutrition, lifestyle changes and techniques for building a cognitive reserve. She’s read a lot of the academic research underway, and referenced the work of Dr. Gary Small at UCLA in our conversation. [Here is an article about his findings.]

“The last lesson my mother gave me is to be prepared,” Constance said. “That’s what I’m doing and encourage others to do so as well.”