My name is Kathy Ritchie and I am participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day™ because it’s an opportunity to shine a spotlight on a disease that has defined my life for the last eight years or 2,920 days.
My mother has Frontotemporal dementia. It’s a lesser-known brain disorder and one that is frequently misdiagnosed. It affects the part of the brain that makes us who we are. Call it your personality center. Like many individuals living with FTD (sometimes called Pick’s disease), my mother suffers from behaviors. Because of her behaviors, she has been asked to leave three assisted living facilities so far.
Besides her behaviors, the disease has robbed my mother of so much. My mother doesn’t know my name; she doesn’t know where she lives; she doesn’t know where she is from; she doesn’t know her own name. She has lost her ability to communicate.
This is why I am participating today. Because when you’re caring for a loved one with dementia, the days are endless. There are no breaks, no time-outs. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. No happy ending.
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias like FTD not only affect the individual living with it, it also affects their family. My hope is that together we can make Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias a No. 1 public health priority. Because the truth is, if Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia has not yet touched your life, it will.
Today, you will find me at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon where I will be walking for all of the caregivers who give so much to their loved ones. I also will be walking for my mom. I love my mom so much and I miss her deeply. I refuse to stand by and watch this disease win. We will find a cure and today is one more step toward that goal.
Kathy Ritchie lives in Phoenix, AZ. Today, she is participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day™, a sunrise-to-sunset relay to raise awareness and funds for the fight against Alzheimer’s. She is also a member of YAAA!and a volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association’s Desert Southwest Chapter. Kathy writes a blog about her experience with her mother called My Demented Mom. Click here, to support Kathy and her team.