After leaving a small town in rural Connecticut, Pam graduated from Clark University in Worcester, MA. While at Clark University she studied sociology with James Hannon, who introduced her to the field of Gerontology. The Consortium in Gerontology exposed Pam to concepts in aging and health at University of Massachusetts Medical Center. At the same time, Pam was experiencing these challenges first hand – the first part of LIVE laugh learn is about her experience with Alzheimer’s disease as her grandmother was officially diagnosed while Pam was in high school.
Nell Krist was the most devout, kind and loving person Pam knew. She was sweet and simple and loved her family. When Pam was in high school, “MaMa Nell’s” memory disorder worsened, and a hip replacement and death of “PaPa Joe” forced the family to shed their denial – she had Alzheimer’s disease. MaMa Nell moved into Pam’s room, and eventually the entire family moved to a larger house to care for MaMa Nell at home.
Pam loved all of her grandparents – as different as they all were. Glo and Grampy were alcoholics and smokers, had cancer and cardiac illnesses. PaPa Joe had all the complications from diabetes that one could have. As her parents struggled with the family dynamics that all families face, Pam and her sisters found their professional paths unfold before them.
Today, Pam shares life’s lessons to help audiences explore aging issues. Her husband Tom is a physical therapist who specializes in treating older adults. Their two kids (Tom Jr & Charlotte) enjoy learning about history through people who have lived it. Pam taps into knowledge gained with her family including her mother in law Dorothy, her parents Joe & Frost, friends, and her clients and residents whom she has been blessed to know.
Pam and her grandmother Ellen “Nell” Krist on the day of Pam’s wedding. At this point (1994) Nell had been living with her son & his family for 8 years. The last 3 years of her life, Nell was in a nursing home.