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Dan Gasby Responds to Criticism That He Has a Girlfriend While Caring for Wife B. Smith, Who Has Alzheimer's

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One man is responding to backlash after he revealed he has a girlfriend while still caring for his wife with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dan Gasby, a former television executive, appeared on The Today Show to respond to those criticizing him for his choice to date while caring for his wife of 26 years, former model, restauranteur and cookbook author B. Smith.

“I am doing what my wife asked me to do: Living my life,” he told The Today Show in an essay published Wednesday.

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Smith was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2013. Gasby has been her caregiver since then. The two published a book together called “Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s” in 2016.

In December, Gasby shared a Facebook post revealing he has a girlfriend, though he is still married to, living with and caring for Smith.

To steal the title from 50 Cent & The Game“Hate it or Love it!” You can debate, but for me I’m just feelin’ great!…

Posted by Dan Gasby on Tuesday, December 4, 2018

In his essay on Today, Gasby explained that his and B.’s relationship was “slowly dissolving” as her Alzheimer’s worsened. Lerner, an acquaintance he knew from living in East Hampton, reached out to offer her support since she was caring for her father with Alzheimer’s.

“While I didn’t feel comfortable putting B. in an assisted living facility, I still felt isolated and frustrated with what Alzheimer’s had done to our life,” Gasby said.

“As much as I try maintaining B.’s dignity and my sanity, there are days I feel like I am underwater…” he continued. “Alex understood. Soon, we discovered we had more in common than having loved ones with Alzheimer’s and we enjoyed each other’s company. I found myself again laughing and being happy.”

He said while Smith was in the early years of her illness, she said if she were “incapacitated,” she wanted Gasby to care for her but also have his own life. Though Lerner was initially hesitant to be in a relationship with a married man, Gasby said she soon saw that their relationship was more of a caregiver/patient relationship. He wrote:

I can still care for B. and also have happiness thanks to Alex. I think that more and more people will be faced with the same situation where they will be caregivers in their marriage. But when they are lacking the intimacy they might seek it elsewhere, too. For as many negative comments that I have received, I also have heard from people thanking me for shining a light on a complicated marriage with a partner as caregiver.

Gasby’s daughter, Dana, who lives with her dad and Smith, and told The Washington Post, “I was like, Thank God. I’m happy,’” when her father told her about Lerner.

Gasby said he has told Smith that Lerner is his girlfriend, but it doesn’t seem to register. According to the article, Smith and Gasby “clashed” over his past flirtations when Smith was lucid. Smith and Lerner appear to have a friendly relationship.

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His announcement sparked immediate controversy, with some criticizing him for moving on with another woman while he’s still married. Others denounced him for being open about it publicly (he also appeared on “The View” on Thursday).

However, others were supportive. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, President Ronald Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis defended him, writing that the best thing you can do when caring for someone with dementia is “show up in a joyful state.” President Reagan died of pneumonia, a complication of Alzheimer’s disease, in 2004.

“There is no cure for Alzheimer’s at this point, but there are ways to stand up to its piracy. Opening one’s heart to new love in the midst of grief, saying to the disease, You will not steal my life, too, is a light on the path of a very dark journey,” she wrote.

Ruth Drew, director of information and support services at the Alzheimer’s Association, told The Mighty that caring for a person living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia can take a severe emotional, physical and financial toll on caregivers.

“Compared with caregivers of people without dementia, twice as many caregivers of those with dementia indicate substantial emotional, financial and physical difficulties,” Drew said. “It’s important for caregivers to know that there are resources and support available, including through their local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, by visiting, or calling our 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900.”

Photos courtesy of Dan Gasby’s Facebook page

Originally published: February 9, 2019
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