May 16, 2016

On My Own - Diane Rehm

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Journalist, radio talk show host, and author Diane Rehm spoke with UsAgainstAlzheimer's Co-Founder and Chairman George Vradenburg about her new book, On My Own, which is a deeply personal, profoundly moving, and incredibly honest book about her life before and after her husband’s death with Parkinson’s disease.

Diane is a recipient of the National Humanities Medal as well as a Personal Peabody Award, considered among the most prestigious and selective prizes in broadcast/electronic media, for her more than 30 years in public broadcasting. She was married to her beloved, late husband, John, for 54 years.


Key Highlights

It is important to discuss end-of-life wishes.

Diane had discussed end of life wishes with her husband, John, throughout their marriage. John Rehm’s parents both took their own lives after dealing with pain and illness. Death was “simply part of the conversation,” she said, and the whole family knew that death with dignity was what John Rehm had always wanted for himself.

She was frustrated when John decided he could no longer care for himself and was ready to die, that the only thing he could do was to stop eating, drinking, and taking medication, which lasted ten days.

She believes that choice at the end of life is perhaps the most important.

“I believe in choice,” said Rehm, “and choice at the end of life is equally as important to me as any other choice in my life, perhaps the most important choice.” She would like people to be supported in whatever choice a person makes, whether it is palliative care, medical treatment, or ending your life, as long as a person has the right to make his or her own choice. We also discussed the challenges with choice when someone has Alzheimer’s.

What’s next?

Diane Rehm will be leaving NPR at the end of the year. She believes that John’s death has given her a final gift – the impetus to carry on life in a new and vital way. She talked about her commitment to speaking out about her own experiences, her belief in the importance of choice at the end of life, and also her desire to continuing her work with UsAgainstAlzheimer’s – including appearing in readings of Trish Vradenburg’s play, Surviving Grace.

You will find key quotes from this conversation on our Pinterest board.

Our thanks to Diane Rehm for sharing her story and speaking candidly about her experiences. Make sure to pick up a copy of her book.

"It's a long journey, and I'm so glad that I have so many good friends who supported me."

We look forward to having you join the next Alzheimer’s Talks on Monday, June 13, 2016, at 4 p.m. Eastern with Dr. Eric Reiman, the Executive Director at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, who will discuss two important trials currently underway.