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Caregivers need help. Michigan is slowly finding a way

Jim Mangi never thought he’d be living out the later parts of the plot of Nicholas Sparks’ fictional “The Notebook,” but he is grateful he can stay a block from the Saline dementia treatment center near his wife, Kathleen, who is struggling to remember the life they shared.

Now at age 73, Kathleen Mangi lives in a Memory Support Center, where she and Jim spend every afternoon and some evenings together on her journey through early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. It’s been like this for 14 years.

“Obviously, now that the disease has taken her ability to walk, use a fork, talk much at all, or remember quite who I am, it has ostensibly changed her,” Mangi said. “But in a fundamental sense, my Kathleen is still the person I married 47 years ago, and always will be. And she hasn’t forgotten how to smile, or squeeze my hand. But, as her caregiver, I am different, too.”

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