What is The Walk to End Alzheimer's?
The Alzheimer's Association's Walk to End Alzheimer's is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, this inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to reclaim the future for millions.
Almost exactly one year ago I lost my Mother to Alzheimer’s disease which naturally would impact my support for The Walk to End Alzheimer's organization. I've described it as “its own form of special hell” for all of the dynamics it presents through different stages of its progression. Unlike other forms of terminal disease, it is not necessarily physical pain for the victim through much of its course. Just like all sufferers, we just watched Mom have a continual hard time of incredibly frustrating struggles to remember things, effectively interact with others and perform everyday tasks.
Graphic Memory is a 2014 Gold Sponsor for the Walk to End Alzheimer's event to be held on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at Port Warwick in Newport News, VA. It starts at 8:30AM with a 2 mile support walk within the community starting at 10:30AM. We would be honored to see you there.
Our Personal Battle With Alzheimer's
I’m angry that she worked and sacrificed all of her life only to start suffering at a relatively early age for the disease within a couple of years of her retirement at age 60. Instead of enjoying that earned retirement, over the next 8 years, we slowly watched this strong independent woman degrade to someone totally dependent for every last function and meaningful interaction of daily living until her passing at age 70.
There are countless things about the experience I could talk about, but a couple of good overall examples of what all Alzheimer victims and their close ones go through is enough to make you want to pray every day - all day - for a cure to a disease that seems to have become an epidemic. When you are touched by this and start talking about it with others, for me it was interesting to hear that almost everyone has a relative or knows someone who is suffering from or is struggling to take care of someone with this disease.
As a long-term disease, it is especially stressful for the relatives providing care for the sufferer. My overall family struggled with a lot of complex problems this particular disease presented. For example, it was hard to determine when Mom crossed a threshold of no longer being able to safely do things she liked to do – like driving, making her own meal or clothing herself.
It was hard when we made these “take away” decisions knowing that it was just another step in her losing the essence of who she was. It was particularly hard trying to make her understand why she could no longer do them.
My sisters and I also agonized over knowing when it had gotten to the point that we couldn't effectively care for her in our homes anymore without constant attention for her health and security. There are few decisions harder for a family to face when the last thing anyone wants, especially Mom, is to be moved to an assisted living facility. In our case, we held out for as long as we could to make that decision and in hindsight feel the timing was right and it was much more to her benefit to have done so.
However, despite saying this, there will always be an undeniable guilt we will carry in the back of our minds – and I think this would be the case for most everybody. In an ideal world, we would have rather have been by her side every minute available to care for her until the end. The reality is, life’s responsibilities for any family makes it rare to be able provide the time, patience and care required 24/7 for an Alzheimer’s patient. What is really scary is there are countless families who cannot bring themselves to make this kind of decision – often with severe consequences for the well-being of everyone involved. The stories are tragic.