Justice O’Connor Brings Awareness to Alzheimer’s Through Personal Story

In a brave, recent announcement Sandra Day O’Connor stated publicly via a letter that she has been living with cognitive impairment that is likely Alzheimer’s disease. It was her choice to bring awareness to her new diagnosis, reflect on her career, and note her goals for the future.

Justice O’Connor cast her vote on several issues of social importance in her nearly 25 years on the United States Supreme Court. She was notably the first woman to serve in this prestigious position. Her opinions around such polarizing issues such as abortion and affirmative action made her a household name. When she retired from her role, she became a caregiver to her husband, John, who passed away in 2009 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. In her retirement, she also worked as an advocate for civic education.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg responded to Justice O’Connor’s announcement with her own statement: “She strived mightily to make what was momentous for women in 1981, the year she was appointed to the Court, no longer extraordinary, but entirely expectable. I am among legions of women endeavoring to follow her lead.”

Justice O’Connor was reflective in her recent announcement letter, stating “while the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings in my life.” At this time, she has chosen to step away from a public life so that she can continue to care for herself and spend time with her loved ones.

To read the story by Matthew Haag published by the New York Times, visit https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/23/us/politics/sandra-day-oconnor-dementia-alzheimers.html. This site also includes a link to the full letter composed by Justice O’Connor.


At Weatherby & Associates, PC, it is important to our team that individuals living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have a voice. As a life care planning law firm, we believe that necessary legal planning needs to go beyond documents. One vital step after receiving a life-changing diagnosis is to consult an elder law attorney. Contact our office at (860) 769-6938 with any questions about our unique approach.

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