Geri Taylor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2012 at age 69.
During Geri's 45 years of executive leadership in healthcare, she developed multiple long- term care programs in nursing homes and community settings for nonprofit facilities in New York City. These included senior housing, hospice, adult day care and a unique city- wide program serving individuals requiring skilled nursing care in their own homes. As Executive Vice President, she was responsible for operations and new program development. She has been responsible for new legislation and regulations to permit the implementation of innovative healthcare programs.
Several years prior to the diagnosis, Geri experienced increasing confusion, difficulty navigating familiar routes and changes in her memory and attention. She was flustered by operating her bedroom blinds and became disoriented on the subway. Still employed at
the time, Geri began to reassign some of her responsibilities. Her spouse, Jim a retired financial analyst for IBM, did not become aware of the severity of Geri’s symptoms until she experienced a brief period of facial agnosia where she did not recognize her own reflection. This startling event encouraged the couple to schedule an appointment with their physician.
After an initial assessment with a neurologist, which included a cognitive evaluation and MRI, Geri was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Given her extensive family history of Alzheimer’s disease, including both parents, Geri began to pursue clinical trials to receive access to a more thorough diagnostic evaluation. After enrolling in the Biogen aducanumab trial (BIIIB037), Geri received a PET scan and genetic testing which confirmed she carries two copies of the APOE-4 gene. Her diagnosis was confirmed as Alzheimer’s disease.
Geri and Jim waited six months before sharing the diagnosis with family and friends. They needed time to process the information and how the diagnosis would affect their future. Despite the advice from her therapist to tell “no one” about the diagnosis, Geri and Jim made the decision to tell their children independently, sensitive to their personal reactions.
Geri contacted the Alzheimer’s Association after researching the disease online. She enrolled in an education program through the Connecticut chapter and began sharing her story at Association events in New York and Connecticut.
Since the diagnosis, Geri has made the decision to pursue activities that foster a sense of connection and engagement to live well with the disease. She took up her life-long interest in photography and spends more time doing activities that bring her joy. After contacting the Alzheimer’s Association Connecticut chapter, she and Jim began sharing their story living with the disease through public speeches. Geri and Jim have also been featured the New York Times called “Fraying at the Edges.”
As a participant in the Alzheimer’s Association 2016 National Early-Stage Advisory Group, Geri would like to encourage others living in the early stage to focus on strategies to help them live well with the disease and focus on strengths rather than declines. She writes, “I’m a different person today. I am much more present and in the moment, I laugh more spontaneously and feel the warmth of others more readily; I value people and beauty more deeply and viscerally. I am limited but at the same time, I am expanded by the opportunity of knowing that what I experience is to be cherished and that every moment is special.”
Geri and Jim live in Sherman, CT and New York, NY. They share a blended family of four children and four grandchildren.