True Love Transcends Alzheimer’s Disease

Roy Moskop didn't buy roses for his wife or take her out to a fancy dinner on Valentine's Day, he's just doing everything he can to help her hold on to the memories of the life they've shared for the last 70 years.

"70 years. It went by awful fast. It didn't seem like 70 years. I remember meeting older couples when we were younger and they had 70th anniversaries and I thought at least I don't have to worry about that because I won't live that long. And it's a big surprise that we did," he said.

When 93-year-old Roy Moskop looks in his wife's face, he still sees the woman he married in 1945.

"She looks now so perfectly normal to me. Like it's the way she's always looked. And of course I know -- I see pictures, I look in the mirror -- we both look so much different. But you're with one person that long and they become part of you. And you become part of them," he said.

Roy and Helen are both 93-years-old. They started dating shortly before he shipped out to Italy to fight in World War II. Roy describes their early courtship as a "sister swap," and he never looked back.

"I was dating her sister at first. But it didn't take long before I met Helen and I realized I chose the wrong sister, he said. "It was a situation where we kind of all agreed I was better suited for Helen."

They wrote letters to each other every day during the war, and were engaged within weeks of his return to the states. and married shortly thereafter.

Helen suffers from Alzheimer’s now, and Roy has watched her inevitable decline, powerless to stop it.

"I just want to be sure that she's happy. I remember a lot of things that we had together, the places we traveled, and I greatly appreciate that we had a life that she made possible. And I owe her a lot," he said.

For the last two years they've lived in the Windsor Senior Center in North Dallas. Roy is sharp and active, as energetic as any 93-year-old could be.

But Roy chooses to live with Helen inside the Windsor's dedicated Memory Unit wing, designed for caring for those residents with Alzheimer's Disease. He says he wanted to be with his wife around the clock.

"It's like the minister says, together for better or worse. Sickness and health. And right, now she needs me more than I’ve ever needed her in the past. This is my chance to pay it back," he said.

"He has made the choice to live with her and live in her surroundings. Care for her, eat with her," said Carol Cottle, one of Helen's caretakers. "He could have lived on a different part of the community, on a floor with more active seniors, and not have to be around the residents who require that extra care. But he chose to be with her 24-7."

Roy enjoys reading to his wife and reviewing their old photo albums together -- hundreds and hundreds of photographs.

"She likes it when I'm around. We hold hands a lot, that seems to comfort her," he said.

They've traveled around the world together over the decades, to every continent except Antarctica. They raised three children, and have five grandchildren. And the Moskop family is growing still.

Roy's undying love for his wife inspires the entire staff.

"I'm sitting here and listening to this and thinking every day is their valentine's Day. He is her sweetheart every day. As she is his," Carol Cottle said.

"I've been married 45 years, and for them to continue to mentor me, speaks volumes on how to live your life. And the power of that covenant of marriage," Cottle said.

Cottle says it's gentle but powerful reminder about what Valentine's Day is really about, and how the grandest romantic gesture can also be the simplest.

"She may not be able to say all the things that he might want to hear, but she touches him. She looks at him. She calls his name. That's love," she said.

Helen Moskop turns 94 on Sunday.

Roy shared his advice for young couples and newlyweds during the NBC5 interview, and even what he thinks about Valentine's Day. Watch his extended interview with NBC5 below:

Roy Moskop has been married to his wife Helen for 70 years and talks about his marriage and offers advice for lasting love.
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