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Woman who chronicled life as caregiver loses husband to Alzheimer’s

Lisa Marshall has been caring for her husband, Peter, ever since he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2018 at age 53.
Peter and Lisa Marshall
Peter and Lisa Marshall wear matching T-shirts with the name of the Facebook page and supportive community Lisa Marshall launched.ohhelloalzheimers via Instagram

Peter Marshall, the beloved husband of Alzheimer's advocate Lisa Marshall, has passed away. He was 56.

Marshall shared the heartbreaking news to social media early Monday alongside a photo of her hand on Peter's chest with his signature plush monkey.

She titled the photo "THE DAY AFTER" and provided a reminder of the mantra she has used throughout Peter's journey: “I want to walk away from this the day after knowing I gave him a beautiful life."

She continued, "My beloved Peter passed away peacefully last night surrounded by so much love. He is free of her horrendous grip, for that I am relieved. My heart is broken, but I have no regrets. My heart is broken, but I will find Joy in our memories. I’m the luckiest girl in the world. Peter gave me a beautiful life."

In 2018 at age 53, Peter was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, and Lisa, his wife and full-time caretaker, has been by his side since.

“The neurologist was sitting on the exam table leaning forward with his elbows on his knees,” Marshall told TODAY Health earlier this year. “He was delivering his words so deliberately and slowly, so I could understand them. He said it was early-onset Alzheimer’s and I was like ‘Cool, let’s go get some lunch.’ I would not acknowledge it. I would not accept it.”

With no close friends or family who shared a similar diagnosis, Marshall admitted she was naive to the way the disease would impact their lives.

“I didn’t know anything about Alzheimer’s,” she said at the time. “It was something you get when you’re 80. I was ignorant about it. I didn’t know anything at all. I knew cognitively he was slipping quick, but I was in denial.”

As Peter’s disease progressed, and quickly, Marshall was determined to help other caregivers facing the same diagnosis feel less alone. She began documenting their journey on a Facebook page titled, “Oh Hello Alzheimer’s.” To date, the page has garnered more than 12,000 devoted followers.

While her anecdotes can be both humorous and heartbreaking, Marshall’s goal was always honesty.

“I think that in the beginning it was me just really screaming, ‘Look at this! Look at what’s happening to us!’” Marshall told TODAY in June. “I was horrified. It was a desperate cry. It’s been a support for me and a bunch of other people who get it and are going through the same thing.”

In recent weeks, Marshall shared Peter's rapid decline and the introduction of in-home hospice care.

“I just want to be open and honest and tell people what we’re experiencing, because you might too,” Marshall said of sharing both the good and bad moments on social media. “I’d rather know it and be prepared. That’s my whole mission, too. There’s no platform you can go to find it out.”