Greg O’Brien was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2009 at age 59.
O'Brien has more than 35 years of experience as a writer, editor, investigative reporter, and publisher. His work has appeared in the Boston Herald, Arizona Republic, Associated Press, Denver Post, Huffington Post, Psychology Today, Readers Digest, USA Today, and Boston Magazine, where he was a senior writer. O'Brien is the editor/author of several books including “On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s.”
Prior to his diagnosis, O'Brien experienced difficulty recalling the names of friends and family members, confusion while driving and increasing anxiety. Gradually, the symptoms began to impact his professional life, and he compensated by relying on electronic devices, programmed reminders, and other organizational tools.
O'Brien’s mother, father, paternal uncle and maternal grandfather all died with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. During the last years of his mother’s life, O'Brien was her caregiver and became very familiar with the devastating symptoms of the disease. Denial prevented him from pursuing his own diagnosis at first. However, as his symptoms worsened, he consulted his primary care physician, who referred him to a neurologist.
After completing a battery of tests including MRI and SPECT scans, Greg and his wife, Mary Catherine, met with a neurologist to receive the diagnosis. Genetic testing confirmed that he carries the APOE-e4 gene, which increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
O'Brien responded to the diagnosis from the perspective of an investigative journalist. Overcome by emotions, he tried to focus on the facts. However, his thoughts quickly turned to the future and the impact of the disease on his wife and children.
At the advice of the neurologist, Greg and Mary Catherine began considering plans for the future, which led to meetings with an estate attorney and the establishment of powers of attorney for health care and property. He shared the diagnosis with his children, whose reactions ranged from anger to fear, and eventually humor.
O'Brien has spoken across the country about his experience living with Alzheimer’s disease, and at events including the Alzheimer’s Association’s Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter, which is in his community.
He has been featured in the documentary film, Living with Alzheimer’s: A Place Called Pluto, and on NBC News and NPR. He has also contributed a regular column to the Huffington Post and Psychology Today.
Greg would like to raise awareness of the experience of people with younger-onset Alzheimer’s and advocate for increased funding for research. Using his skills as a writer, he states, “I want to help teach the world how to live and speak through the heart as the brain diminishes.”
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Greg O'Brien is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Greg O'Brien for your event is $10,000 - $30,000. Greg O'Brien generally travels from Brewster, MA, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Viola Davis, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, Rashida Jones and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Greg O'Brien for an upcoming event.
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