The cartoonist drawing comics about his mother’s Alzheimer’s

Rose Conlon Sep 26, 2019
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Courtesy of Ted Rall

The cartoonist drawing comics about his mother’s Alzheimer’s

Rose Conlon Sep 26, 2019
Courtesy of Ted Rall
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COPY

What does it mean to care for aging parents when you’re the only child in your family? We asked for your submissions after the release of Marketplace Morning Report’s investigation into elder financial abuse, and many of you wrote in. This story is the result of your contributions.

Read stories from other only children here.


When Ted Rall’s mother started showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, it meant that Rall, who is an only child, had to navigate nursing homes and crushing medical bills without the help of siblings.

“It’s incredibly isolating,” he said.

Ted Rall is pictured with his mother and son in 2013.
Ted Rall is pictured with his mother and son in 2013. (Courtesy of Ted Rall)

For the first time in his life, he went to a support group for family caregivers – and he realized that he wasn’t alone.

That’s when Rall, who is a nationally syndicated political cartoonist, decided to start drawing a series of cartoons about his experience as a caregiver.

One thing Rall never expected to worry about was the cost of his mother’s care. She was a high school teacher and an avid saver who saved 50% of her income in an annuity. 

Even so, Rall is out thousands of dollars each month taking care of her.

“Every time I get bills forwarded, I never know if it’s going to be a $20 copay or if it’s going to be a $25,000 bill from some out-of-network physician,” said Rall. “We all know about these outrageous medical bills. But until you go through something like this, it’s just not the same.”

Unlike his other work, Rall hopes that these cartoons reach people on both sides of the aisle.

“Political cartooning is inherently a divisive format. It does not bring people together,” he said. “But the cartoons I’ve done about Alzheimer’s have been non-partisan. Democrats and Republicans both have parents, brothers, sisters, and grandparents – everybody is going to get old.”

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