It’s been ten years since I first stepped out in faith at a Memory Walk, daring to believe my family and I could possibly make a difference. Alzheimer’s disease has been attacking my loved ones for as long as I can remember. In all probability, since long before I was born.
This most difficult journey began when I was 7 years old. I took my Grandma’s hand and followed her into a nursing home to visit her brother. It was apparent, even to the blue-eyed little girl, Grandma’s brother no longer knew who she was.
She was visibly shaken. I have never forgotten the words Grandma spoke when we left that day, “I hope the good Lord takes me before I get in that condition.” As fate would have it, shortly after I left for college, Grandma received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
We have come a long way since then. The disease was newly recognized as a diagnosis and the Alzheimer’s Association was recently formed. Medications were just being formulated. Fall risks, like Grandma, were tied to their chairs.
Thankfully, this is no longer the case, but we still have a long way to go. This disease remains largely misunderstood. Over 30 years after Grandma was diagnosed, there is still no cure or treatment to reverse the effects.
However, our conversations have markedly changed. We are now discussing breakthroughs in possible Ultrasound treatments, trial medications and preventative drugs showing promise, and revolutionary Alzheimer’s villages which breathe life and understanding into those experiencing this lengthy disease.
Urgency is being felt from the eyes of our loved ones straight to the steps of our Nation’s Capitol. We need answers and we need them quickly. Absent of a cure or revolutionary treatment to reverse the effects of this disease, Alzheimer’s care will bankrupt not only our families, but our entire country.
This is the most expensive and least funded disease in the United States. It is also the 6th leading cause of death. Grandma lost her ten year battle with Alzheimer’s disease over 20 years ago. My mom was subsequently diagnosed and lost her fight with Alzheimer’s 7 years ago.
Dad has also been robbed of his memories and so much more. I’ve been on this journey with him almost 12 years now. Yesterday, I was honored to walk with my friends. When my parents were diagnosed, theirs were still enjoying a full, healthy life. Next year new friends, who will be receiving this dreadful news in the next 12 months, will be joining us.
One of our Memory Care nurses held a yellow pinwheel for the first time this year, representing a loved one living with the disease. She has been walking in support of this cause for years, carrying an orange pinwheel as a provider of care for those with Alzheimer’s. Her mom was diagnosed this year with Early-Onset. In the blink of an eye, she is on this journey with us.
My hands are overflowing with pinwheels, a shirt full of buttons with pictures of the loved ones I’ve lost and love. Our local Memory Walk hosted over 8,000 who woke up early and endured the crowds to take a step of faith. We believe, with adequate funding for research, this disease can be beaten. We dare to dream of meeting the first survivor of Alzheimer’s disease in our lifetime.
To donate to this cause, please visit:http://act.alz.org/goto/StoneBenchesJourney
#StoneBenches #TheyHaveAName #EndAlz #HOPE #AlzFamilies
#InPursuitOfACure #AlzheimersCure #MemoryWalk