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The Wedding Day

February 12, 2024

Alzheimer’s Caregiving & The Caregivers Provides Caregiver Support

The Alzheimer’s Caregiving & The Caregivers digital community is designed to provide Caregiver Support to all Caregivers. It’s a place to share your stories, share/identify additional resources and feel the support that only a community of like-minded people can provide. Become part of Alzheimer’s Caregiving & The Caregivers. This is the Story of Why we created it as told by our Founder Tony Vericella.

In the beginning

working at Western Airlines while getting residency to pursue Graduate school; and she was working for Continental Airlines. Dana was born and raised in Hawai’i, spending most of her years at the family ranch on the Big Island. I was raised in New Castle, near Pittsburgh, PA. One night in 1976, my brother Pasquale (who also worked for Continental Airlines) invited me to join him at a company BBQ and that’s where Dana and I first connected. It wasn’t long before we were an inseparable couple whose love was deepening.


Within that first year, we had met each other’s family and traveled to Hawai’i to attend family events. While I was still in UCLA’s MBA program, we got engaged and began planning our wedding to take place in Hawai`i after graduation. We chose September 21, 1980, to be our day. (Many years later I would learn that our anniversary is also World Alzheimer’s Day.) Married life started in California, but after 3 years, we moved to O’ahu, when I was offered a position with Hawaiian Airlines. Dana was thrilled to be moving back to her Islands. 


Starting a family turned into a years-long challenge. After three miscarriages, our renowned fertility specialist and the wonders of science stepped in to give us the gift of triplets. Nicholas, Joseph and Catherine were delivered (in that order) on December 4, 1988.


Dana loved to cook and bake. She created exceptional crafts, enjoyed organizing family events, being involved with the schools our children attended, and ran her family’s security guard firm. Her love of animals and the outdoors was ever present with our family. Those years…traveling, raising our family, watching our children grow into adults, pursuing our careers, loving life, and planning our retirement, our golden years together. We had much to be grateful for and so very much to look forward to. Then things changed.

Tony's Family
Tony, Dana & their Family

and then things changed


Almost five years ago, my wife of 38 years, at the age of 65, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Though I was initially relieved to finally understand what we were facing, I couldn’t help but be consumed by anger and fear during those first hours, days and weeks following the diagnosis. 


I did a ton of research, created action plans, made lists of experiences I knew Dana would love and began immediately kicking them into gear. At that point, I focused on what I knew best – problem solving, planning, taking charge. I remember feeling – “I got this.”


I had an idea of what to expect – however, long before I could get my arms around what was to come, it came! Dana’s regression in all aspects of life was so quick, so devastating, so frightening for all of us. Initially every month, then every week and then every day, another part of her was lost. My emotions ran the full range – sadness, frustration, anger, physical and emotional exhaustion, and sheer helplessness as I watched the woman I loved, the mother of our triplets, disappear.


Any sign of normalcy filled me with hope – maybe the medications were working, maybe the home environment was stemming the decline, maybe I was getting through! But these momentary signs of hope were cruel reminders of a life that was no longer, of the plans that might have been but would never be, of the retirement, our golden years, now set aside.


I am no stranger to the disease.  My mother suffered the debilitating impact of Alzheimer’s for 14 years – indeed my father suffered even more as he remained aware, frightened, frustrated with himself that he could not just make this go away, click his fingers and snap my mother out of this fog. The helplessness…I have new understanding for his pain.


What now – we are long past the beginning. Together, our family is accepting that the Dana we knew would live on mostly in our memories. We wait for moments, even seconds, of recognition, of love, of reassurance that she is not suffering. And we plan – how do we take this pain, learn from it, and prepare others.

The Caregivers among us are heros

and now, there is a new beginning…

A beginning that has purpose – helping the thousands of families in Hawaii, and millions in the U.S. and beyond, that wake up daily to the realization that their loved one is slipping away, regressing into an unknown void where their shared memories are no longer a source of comfort or joy.  

The effects of Alzheimer’s disease impact not only the person diagnosed, but everyone around them.  How can we make sure that no family is forced to face Alzheimer’s alone? 

My goal is simple – to pass on the healing, the strength, and the power that comes from understanding and sharing experiences. My initiative, an approved tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) called Alzheimer’s Caregiving & The Caregivers, has but one mission – to prepare, equip, and provide evolving support to “families” caregiving for loved ones diagnosed with the progressive and debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s/Dementia. 

Please join our digital community. Become part of Alzheimer’s Caregiving & The Caregivers to give and receive Caregiver Support.

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