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Westlake doctor gets therapy from dementia center he founded

Dr. Charlie Farrell is taking it one day at a time and living his best life.

WESTLAKE, Ohio — It's been about a year since we've caught up with Dr. Charlie Farrell, the founder of the Carolyn L. Farrell Foundation. He still spends his days there, helping families cope with dementia. Now, he's participating right along with them because since early 2021, Dr. Charlie has been dealing with the disease himself.

"Now I've been living with my new friend, Mr. Alzheimer's, and we're getting for better, for worse, closer and closer together," Dr. Charlie said of the disease he's named "Mr. Alzheimer's."

The adjustments and changes to his life have been hard. But he has support from his family, colleagues, and his beloved, longtime partner Luise Easton.

"Remembering what he wants to say and having difficulty occurs more often," Luise told us. "He's dealing with not only that, but he has some physical ailments that are bothering him."

"He just wiggles himself in and that makes it very difficult for me to do anything that I want to do without doing it through or with him," Dr. Charlie said of Mr. Alzheimer's.

The couple is not naïve about the future.

"I sort of look at myself now as actively dying. That sounds rather harsh, but the reality is, you know, I'm losing these little neurons day in and day out," Dr. Charlie said frankly.

That's not how they choose to live their lives, though.

"We just love one another, enjoy being together. When changes come up, we just figure a way to deal with them," Luise told us.

It's not about what's to come, it's about having gratitude for today.

He loves to swim -- it's his safe place.

"When I swim, I enjoy the swimming, but when I stick my head in the water, the world goes away," Dr. Charlie said.

And there's something else in their lives that's helped tremendously and brought a healing to his life, Dr. Charlie never knew: Their new puppy, Georgie.

"When I sit down with him in a chair, he's not asking me a bunch of questions I can't answer. He just sits in my lap. And we're cool together," Dr. Charlie said.

He still has a lot of good work to do at the Foundation. It's a place he's proud to call home.

"The best thing I did here forever was just to be able to greet people, welcome them, work as a volunteer with the art and things. And now I still can sit and greet people and everybody knows that I'm one of them, which is a good thing," Dr. Charlie said. 

He's hopeful about the future and knows those with dementia can live fulfilled lives.

"After 10 years or so, we're quite convinced that we can manage this disease. People can live in their own homes together ... they still make their own decisions and feel good about them. We're here to provide everything we can to make that easier," Dr. Charlie said.

On Saturday, Dr. Farrell and the Farrell Foundation will hold its second annual gala. Tickets are sold out, but to learn more about the foundation or donate, click HERE.


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