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A Baby Boomer's Story About Living With a Spouse with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

June 13th, 2017
Katie Gates’ debut novel, 'The Somebody Who', is about one woman traveling the difficult path of dealing with her husband’s Dementia / Alzheimers.

A Baby Boomer's Story About
Living With a Spouse with
Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

Ever since my 20’s (most of which took place during the ‘80s), I'd dreamed of writing a novel.  I even attempted doing so twice before I turned 30. 

My first attempt was the typical coming-of-age story, its flimsy plot line based on little more than my limited experience. 

My second venture was creative by comparison – the story would unfold after a fictional hijacking event.  I wrote maybe 50 pages or so before realizing that I didn't have the oomph to follow through with the concept. 

Fast forward.  It's 2005, and I am at my regular Thursday gig – in a West Hollywood condo where I help my friend, Sue (now 82), with administrative, gal Friday stuff.  

I've been working with Sue (the mother of three Baby Boomers) for several years, and I’ve been observing.  Her husband, Mort, has dementia.  He will never get better.  Sue is coping as best she can.

Sue's activities include playing bridge, and she shares with me an anecdote from a recent session at her club.  One of the women who plays regularly has a husband with Alzheimer's, and that woman has begun dating.

I immediately grab my day-runner and make a quick note:  Alzheimer’s wife starts dating.  I don't know what I’m going to do with this idea, but I know there's a story in there.

A few weeks later, I’m back at Sue’s and Mort’s.  Our work finished, we’ve entered the “team-building” phase of the evening.  This means a cocktail.  At the time, Sue is still allowing Mort to have a drink.  He is safe in the condo, always docile, so why not?

Mort goes into the kitchen to freshen his drink.  When he returns, he sits where he always sits and holds his cocktail as anyone would.  He takes a sip the way one sips a cocktail.  But:  what’s in his tumbler isn’t a cocktail.  It’s meat sauce on the rocks.  (The sauce – integral to the dinner ahead – has been simmering on the stove.) 

I catch Sue’s eye and do one of those eyebrow-raising, subtle head-movement gestures that says “look over there.” 

Sue turns, sees Mort’s “cocktail,” and then turns back to me.

“Uh-huh,” she says dully and without inflection.

I am struck.  Moved.  Sue has seen it all, and this is just more of the same.

Later that night, after we've had our pasta dinner and I am driving home, a novel starts writing itself in my head.  And during the creative journey that follows, I learn what I could not have known back in the ‘80’s and back in my 20’s:  when I am ready to write a novel, I need only sit at the computer keyboard and open myself to the process. 

… I essentially took dictation as the characters spoke.  I allowed the story to go where it must.  In the end, my protagonist's attempt at dating created a hero of her husband.  In spite of his dementia, there was something within him that was remarkably clear.

Katie Gates’ debut novel, 'The Somebody Who', is a touching, heartfelt, and at times quite funny story of love, challenge and acceptance as one woman travels the difficult path of dealing with her husband’s dementia and Alzheimers. 

Published in 2008 by Channel Press, 'The Somebody Who' was nominated for a 2009 Literary Award from the Library of Virginia.  It is available for purchase on

Buy Book on Amazon: 'The Somebody Who' by Katie Gates

On June 27, 2010, Katie will be the featured speaker at Writing from the Spirit–An Author’s Journey, a StillSpeaking ARTS Event. 
For more information regarding this San Marino, CA Arts Event,
go to website:

Katie welcomes any opportunity to present her novel to professional or informal groups.  She also is available to participate telephonically in post-read discussions with book clubs everywhere.  Contact her by telephone (323-236-4515) or email ( 

Go to to sample her weekly essays, and check out her wearable art at

JUST FOR BABY BOOMERS: Share your experiences, remembrances and opinions about "A Baby Boomer's Story About Living With a Spouse with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease" with other Baby Boomers on our "Baby Boomer Forum"


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Article by:
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