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02/05/2013 10:52 am ET Updated Feb 15, 2013

In Blended Families, Responsibility Blurs

Every year, Fran McDowell waited for the summer week when she would sing in a choral festival in the North Carolina mountains, then spend a few days in a lakeside cabin with close women friends.

That getaway grew more complicated to arrange -- but perhaps more necessary -- after her husband, Herb Beadle, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. They had a “gloriously happy” marriage -- her first, his second -- for 11 years, and she was more than willing to care for him in sickness as in health. But he could no longer manage alone in their Atlanta home.

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