Rosalie Rudnick collected friends like she collected Caucasian rugs—easily, passionately, and in large numbers. “The world loved Rosalie,” said Mitch, her husband of 60 years. “She was charming and befriended everyone who came near her.”
Even after Alzheimer’s disease robbed her of almost everything that made her Rosalie, upon arriving at the memory care unit where she lived at the end, she immediately befriended the lead nurse.
Rosalie, who was an expert on the antique, hand-spun tribal rugs of the Caucasus and an accomplished restorer, died in 2018. Her passion had taken her and Mitch all over the country and the world, where they delighted in the rugs’ geometric designs and natural colors, the dealers they met, and the stories behind their finds.
But this story begins at a sleepaway camp in Fryeburg, Maine, more than 40 years ago.
There, 12-year-old Brent Forester became pals with Mitch and Rosalie’s son Charles. The two went on to become lifelong friends and when Rosalie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in her 70s, Brent P. Forester, MD, MSc, chief of McLean’s Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, provided much-needed support to the family.
“When Brent found out about Rosalie’s diagnosis, he came to our house that same night,” recounted Mitch. “He told me to bring her to McLean, and he would have her examined and come up with a plan for how to proceed.”
Finding Hope in a Clinical Trial
Rosalie was soon enrolled in a clinical trial at McLean that tested the efficacy of a drug targeting her brain’s amyloid plaques—the protein deposits implicated in the Alzheimer’s disease process.
Mitch said the team involved in the study, which included David P. Olson, MD, PhD, medical/clinical director of the McLean Imaging Center, was phenomenal. “Dr. Olson is the brightest man I’ve ever met—loving, compassionate, and caring. Like Brent, he made himself available any time I needed him.”
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