Readers React: Someone caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s doesn’t need your judgment

The 4th Annual “Night Before” Party - Arrivals
Terry and Jane Semel in 2006.

To the editor: I suspect that most of the people criticizing Jane Semel for her decisions about the care of her husband, former Warner Bros. chief Terry Semel, have never been personally responsible for someone afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

When my mother began to lose her memory, we did everything possible to keep her in her home. Caregivers were hired and medications were tried. But one of the greatest challenges for someone suffering dementia is loneliness, for all but the most loyal friends vanish when they realize they are no longer recognized.

We finally made the decision to place our mom in a long-term care facility with a group of 10 other memory care residents. She thrived in this setting and the residents and caregivers became her new family. She did sometimes express a desire to “go home,” but in her mind “home” was a bungalow in 1930s Oakland.

We should not project our own biases about quality of life onto someone suffering this disease. If their days are filled with moments of companionship and engaging activity, that could very well be a better life than living in a mansion.


Jennifer Becker, Riverside


To the editor: Most of us should be so lucky to be in the Semel family’s shoes. It has the financial resources to afford a two-room apartment at a nursing care facility.

Dementia is forever, and forever can be a very long and very expensive time.


The cost of full-time care in an institutional setting, with a 10-year commitment, runs greater than $1 million. Medicare does not cover these basic costs. The costs of around-the-clock in-home care is significant — very significant.

Institutions for people with Alzheimer’s are businesses, not charities. They need to make a profit in order to operate.

The financing of Alzheimer’s and dementia care is a national crisis. I have no solutions; I hope someone does.

David Strauss, Arcadia

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