Someone You Should Know: A Positive Outlook On A Difficult Diagnosis

One Sioux Falls Family Is Embracing The Best Despite Alzheimer's Diagnosis

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.—Tom and Lee Raines were best friends at Dell Rapids high school.

After their high school days, they went separate ways.

“I went to South Dakota State and she turned to a life of sin at the university,” said Tom, with a laugh.

Following the passing of their previous spouses, a high school reunion brought them together forever.

Two years ago, however, a diagnosis changed everything.

“I understood it probably better than most people because my mother developed it,” said Tom.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease like his mother before him.

He said he remembers what it was like when the disease became a part of his family.

“She almost never missed a birthday or something like that. My first suspicion was, gee, I didn’t get a birthday card from her,” said Tom.

Lee said she remembers the moment it became a part of theirs during a trip to a gun show in Brookings.

“As we came to Brookings, there are two exits. He said where do I turn off? And he had lived there 26, 30 years. I couldn’t believe it and that was my first indication,” said Lee.

Lee said she thought it was time to get the ducks in a row.

Following the Brookings trip, she became the permanent driver.

Financial planning and medical visits follow close after.

“If I was to tell anybody, the sooner you make these decisions the better because you can include. I wanted to include Tom in many of these decisions because he’s so knowledgeable and astute to what would be needed,” said Lee.

Alzheimer’s is now a part of Tom’s life

“I think the kindest way to describe it is like your memory fades, it’s not that you don’t remember that person that’s coming down the street but you’re struggling, why do I know that man, woman and what on earth is his name? That sort of feeling,” said Tom.

It’s also a part of Lee’s life too, as she has embraced the role as caretaker for her husband.

“I just know my love for Tom is so deep that I have learned to live in the moment. If I look too far in the future and worry about it, I can’t do anything about it and I know there are going to be some very tough days people tell me all these things, horror stories and I cannot, it’s not going to help to worry about them. We love being together so much and doing things together so I just treasure the moments we have,” said Lee.

This couple’s secret for fighting Alzheimer’s?

A little comedy for some smiles.

“Just like your sun tan has faded, my memory has faded but I can remember the important things. Like I was just telling what her name…no that was a bad joke but a family one,” said Tom.

If you or a family member has questions or concerns regarding Alzheimer’s disease, reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association of South Dakota.

They have an office in Sioux Falls.

The website for more information can be found here.

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