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Alister And Cecile’s Story

Watch a personal story of a family dealing with Alzheimer's about identifying concerns, preferences, and goals.

Alister and Cecile’s story

Alister Bazaz, head of international asset‐based lending at Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Commercial Bank.


I’m Alister Bazaz. I’m an executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In 2009, my wife, Cecile, was diagnosed with early‐ onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 51.

When people hear of Alzheimer’s they think it is merely a memory disorder. Ultimately it proves to be more than memory. It’s physical. It, for example, affects the ability to walk, the ability to eat, the ability to do common things that we take for granted every day.

I would say that people need to be more prepared. You need to hope for the best, but plan for the worst. You can’t work this thing out on the fly because once you are diagnosed, the music has stopped. You can’t put insurance in place afterwards. You have to have everything designed, ready to go, should that unexpected eventuality ever happen.

Our daughter was a sophomore in college, merely 20 years old. Clearly a 20‐year‐old could not make financial decisions on behalf of a mother with Alzheimer’s until she was of a certain age. But having come to the conclusion that something could happen to me, merely crossing the road, or anything that could take me out of the picture, meant that Kathleen, our daughter, had to be in a position to know what was going on in our family. We had to have people appointed to be able to help her, maybe even make the decisions for her until she would be able to do it herself.

I’m so grateful that our financial advisor talked to us about long‐term disability when we were in our early 40s, way before there was the risk of Cecile becoming ill. I feel that if we had not taken long‐term disability, I would have had a tough time.

My wife is about to enter a care home because it has come harder for us to look after her at home even though we really want to. In Atlanta, where I live, the annual cost of care in a facility is approximately $100,000. And there is very limited tax protection for that. So, it’s a big hit on an annual basis.

All the work we did when Cecile was first diagnosed and we had to make quick decisions and put it all in place has allowed me to live the life with her and care for her and attend to her, and enjoy her, more than worrying about whether the papers were in order or not in order. I know what Cecile’s wishes were, I know what I have to do, I don’t have to worry about it. We can enjoy time with her and those moments are priceless.

I think it is prudent, based on my own experience and my family’s experience, to be planning for the possibility in your forties, before it begets too late.


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When people hear of Alzheimer's they think it is merely a memory disorder. Ultimately it proves to be more than memory.

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