Boston Globe (March 30, 2011): Fighting to Stay Connected

Publication Date: 
Wed, 03/30/2011

Brian Vincent hadn't gone on a vacation in a year. Since taking over management of the family's grocery store, even a sick day was rare.

But one morning last month, a feverish Vincent silenced his cellphone and crawled under the covers for a few hours. He woke up to a flood of text messages and four missed calls from his mother, who was minding the store. His dad, Bruce, diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease three years ago, had been wandering the aisles and she was trying to keep him occupied with chores. There were questions about shipments, and she was neglecting her gift shop next door.

"I cannot be sick, or relax and take a day off without things falling to pieces," Brian Vincent would later say.

Six days a week, Brian, 26, and his mother, Cindy Vincent, juggle their store managing duties while also scrounging for activities to keep Bruce busy and feeling useful at the store he opened two decades ago.

He is just 48, but his wife and son are hesistant to leave him alone at home for too long because of his increasing forgetfulness. They are approaching and dreading the day when they will have to find a program for him during work hours.

The form of Alzheimer's that Bruce Vincent has, striking before age 65, is rare, affecting only about 4 percent of the estimated 5.4 million Americans with the disease.