A St. Louis couple reflects on Valentine’s Day and love while living with Alzheimer’s disease

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – Valentine’s Day is upon us and it’s a holiday filled with chocolates, flowers and lots of love.

St. Louis couple Dan Flynn and Marsha Callender show people how important it is to show your partner that you love them every day.

“I often tell myself that there are 3.5 billion men on this planet and every single one of them wishes they were sitting next to him right now,” Flynn said.

It’s a third chance at love for Flynn and Callender as they celebrate a decade of marriage this year.

“I don’t identify her as my third wife,” Flynn said. “I introduce her as my last wife.”

Callendar was a hospice nurse where her colleagues first noticed the first change in her.

In 2019, Callender was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“When she was in hospice, Marsha knew exactly what her future would be,” Flynn said. “He had hundreds of patients with dementia and he said, ‘When I’m still myself, I want to be back with my children and grandchildren.’ So we went back to St. Louis.”

Callender is on medication to slow his memory loss.

The drug is part of the Washington University Aging and Memory Program in St. Louis, where he will be monitored for the rest of his life.

When Callender dies, his brain is donated to study to learn more about the disease.

“He looks forward to being a part of advancing this treatment,” Flynn said. “I don’t know if it will help Marsha over time, but Marsha has committed herself to being a part of finding a solution.”

Their story of love and struggle with illness is one that has touched many in their lives.

Jennifer Shafer with Alzheimer’s Association is one of them, and says it’s people like Callender who are helping to uncover the cause of this disease.

“Finding a cure is very important to us in this fight,” Shafer said.

Alzheimer’s affects more than just the person diagnosed.

It is a disease that affects friends and family as well.

Shafer said there are millions of unpaid caregivers.

“The coach can often get sick because they are traveling with their loved ones and the general need to meet their individual needs 24 hours a day.”

Flynn took on that role, transitioning from husband to full-time caregiver.

“I’ve always described it as the best job I’ve ever had,” Flynn said. “To be able to take care of someone you love. That’s part of what it’s about, right?

More information can be found on the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease Here.

Also has Alzheimer’s Association available resources for those living with this disease as well as their loved ones.

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