When my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I was a healthcare professional working in Assisted Living. But I didn’t have much personal experience with dementia or first-hand knowledge of what it would be like to walk with someone on this journey. Suddenly, it became my mother’s journey and, eventually, my story as well.
My sisters and I bought every book we could find about this terrible disease. “You read these three, I’ll read these four.” We felt desperate to learn as much as we could to help our mother. The books, along with the Alzheimer’s Association’s website and blog, were so helpful to us! I remember reading about the stages of the disease on the website and seeing my mother’s path unfold in front of me.
That path led us to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. How wonderful to have an actual EVENT to share with others on this journey! Whether you’re a person struggling with Alzheimer’s, or family members representing and supporting loved ones, the Walk is a place where you connect with people who truly understand the challenge and heartbreak of this disease. You feel less alone when you realize you aren’t the only one fighting this battle. True strength in numbers!
In 2010, my sister, Pam Lindsey, and I gladly volunteered to be on the publicity committee for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and annual fundraising banquet. At the event, I performed a song I wrote for my mom called, “Remember Me Too.” We felt it was a special way to honor her and all the other families struggling with Alzheimer’s.
After years of caregiving for my mother, I knew I wanted to help others who were on this daunting path. I was grateful for the opportunity to join Brookdale Belle Meade, where a true continuum of care for dementia is available. Brookdale Belle Meade offers separate programming for early and late stage dementia. Brookdale designed each program and understands that memory care is not “one size fits all.”
Brookdale Senior Living is a terrific supporter of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s with representatives on-site to connect with families. It’s both exciting and comforting to attend an event that renews everyone’s passion for this rapidly growing cause. Every day I remember the devastation Alzheimer’s disease brought to my family in losing my mother, grandmother, mother-in-law and her mother as well. I am grateful to the Alzheimer’s Association for all they do to help so many.
I know my mother would be happy to know that our story helps others. I have her photo on my desk so that those I help can see the woman who inspires me to do this every day. I lead two monthly support groups to help families deal with the loss, grief, and unmerited guilt that come when they realize that they can no longer care for their loved one at home. I try to help them understand that in getting professional help, they are not doing this TO their beloved, but FOR them. For those struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, there is still a life to be lived while focusing on what they still CAN do, instead of what they can’t.
As I remember my mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease, I remember her courage, strength and bravery which set my life on a path I could have never imagined. That path is to help as many families who struggle with the disease as I can. Her fight continues through me.