UPDATE: Thank you everyone for your support for promotion of the Leaders in Elder Care Series. I had many, many requests to integrate the series into Inside Elder Care. I’m kicking it off with on my my favorites, so enjoy!
Once in a while, you have the unique pleasure of meeting someone that just stuns you. While it is certainly their words that enter your ears, it is their demeanor that ignites their message. For me, Richard Taylor is one of the people. For me, Richard Taylor is nothing short of a hero.
There are volumes written about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, but I’ve yet to find one that delivers its message with the character and courage that Richard does. In our interview, Richard conveys such courage and leadership in his battle with Alzheimer’s that it has fundamentally changed the way I think about the disease.
This interview is a bit longer than our others (45 mins), but I highly recommend it for families grappling with dementia. I also consider it a “must list” for people who have yet to spend much time with people affected dementia. Enjoy!
How Richard Describes Himself
Richard Taylor, a retired Psychologist, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s-type dementia in 2001 at the age of 58. Now 65, he is a champion for individuals with early-stage and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and author of the book Alzheimer’s from the Inside Out (Health Professions Press, 2006). He serves on the board of the Houston and Southeast Texas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and has started over 50 chat rooms worldwide for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their loved ones.
Richard lives in Cypress, Texas, with his spouse Linda, and his Bouvier des Flandres (dog), Annie. His son and family live across the street from him. He now spends his days playing with his two grandchildren, gardening, and writing. Originally, he started to write to better understand for himself what was going on inside of him. When he isn’t out speaking, he writes for two or three hours every day. Even as the disease progresses, he thus far has maintained his ability to look at and attempt to understand himself.
Richard is a passionate advocate for several issues concerning the involvement of people living with a diagnosis of one of the diseases of dementia. He was a moving force in the establishment of the Dementia Advisory Committee of the U.S. Alzheimer’s Association, looking at how to better integrate individuals living with the diagnosis in the leadership, program development, and delivery functions of the Association and its local chapters. He now serves as the chair of a similar committee he helped to establish for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. He continues to be a sought-after speaker at various professional conferences, assisted living and memory care communities, and public programs. He is constantly looking for new audiences, especially of professionals who work in the field of dementia, to help them with getting to know the people they serve.
Richard is an articulate, thoughtful, and thought-filled speaker to caregivers. Hundreds of them have used his insights as the basis for conversations and insights into what might be going through their loved one’s minds. Many Alzheimer’s chat rooms, across the United States and worldwide, were created in large or small part with his support. He publishes his own newsletter of, by, and for people with dementia, which you can sign up to receive.
While Richard still leads a vibrant life, control of his concentration is sometimes elusive. His language facility is still mostly intact, although he increasingly searches for the right word. His granddaughter Christina is learning to read and sometimes reads to him. His garden becomes smaller and smaller each year; he plays bridge (with a cheat sheet) once a week and is halfway through editing another book of his writings.