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Journalist Documenting His Experience With Alzheimer's Comes To San Diego

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Journalist Documenting His Experience With Alzheimer's Comes To San Diego
Journalist Documenting His Experience With Alzheimer's Comes To San Diego
Journalist Documenting His Experience With Alzheimer’s Comes To San Diego GUESTS:Greg O'Brien, author, "On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer's" Conor O'Brien, Greg's son and caregiver

An Alzheimer’s patient who made his living as a newspaperman decided to face the disease by writing about it and how it affected his mind, body and family.

Journalist Greg O'Brien of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's five years ago, at the age of 59.

He started taking notes from his own experiences, both as a patient and as a caregiver to his mother. She died from the disease shortly after he started showing symptoms himself.

“I had a front row seat,” O’Brien said. “As a journalist, I felt compelled to write about it.”

He talked to NPR about sharing the news of his diagnosis with his children.

“They were stunned. They didn't quite know what to say,” O’Brien said. “And then (my son) Conor cut through it and said, 'So Dad, you're losing your mind.'"

O'Brien's book, "On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer's," gives readers an up-close view of the disease that is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

He said he wanted to show it’s a myth that it only afflicts people in their 80s.

“What I decided to do is strip myself naked,” O’Brien told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday. “This is the biggest story I’ve written in my life.”

O'Brien will speak Tuesday at the Behavioral Health Luncheon, hosted by the Jewish Family Services. It starts at 11:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency at 3777 La Jolla Village Drive.