Forget Me Not – Living With Early-Onset Alzheimer’s

Kathi and Dave Reginato at their home in Longmont

An estimated 5.8 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s. The vast majority of them are over the age of 65, but for a small number of people, a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s can come much sooner in life and it can be devastating. This is the reality for one family in Longmont.

Listen to the story below:

Just over a year ago when Kathi Reginato was only 52, she got a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. Having experienced brain fog and difficulty in completing everyday tasks, she and her husband David put her symptoms down to menopause or a kidney infection.

“So initially that’s what we attributed it to. But then as things progressed and Kathi was having to hard time reading out loud, filling out a check, organizing the family schedule, we definitely knew something was out of the ordinary. We went to a number of different doctors. We had no idea that it was brain or Alzheimer’s associated.”

Getting that diagnosis at such a young age was devastating for Kathi and her family.

“It was really, really hard. My kids came over when they got the news… all my kids came and it was horrible. Everybody was crying, everybody, it was just so horrible.”

A screenshot from Kathi’s Forget Me Not vlog

Kathi started a vlog to chronicle her experience and also to inspire other people who may be dealing with a similar situation. She says having the support of her family, her community and church has been crucial and keeps her connected to the outside world.

“Every day I have something to do, whether it’s my friends or whether I exercise and, you know, things like that.”

The Reginatos have six children, the youngest is 14 and Kathi’s diagnosis has been hard on all of them. Dave says he is also struggling with how their relationship is changing.

“When you’re in a marriage, you argue, your relationship is equal, so having that shift where Kathi’s words are hard, I can’t get mad at her cause she can’t defend herself like before. So it’s no fun arguing both sides of the point. So that’s changed a lot. And then, you know on a more personal level, it’s hard to not have that individual opposite opinion. A lot of times we’re very different. And so I miss that, I mean it’s good for me to have that. So it feels lonely.”

“It feels like I’m losing her slowly,” Dave says. “The Kathi that was, and that part is probably the most difficult.”

The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado has resources and support for patients, caregivers and family members.