Jun 202012

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.

  9 Responses to “Hiking the Grand Canyon to Show Those Facing Dementia They Are Not Alone”

  1. I am so Proud of you! To give all that love to your mom and still have some leftover to participate for Everyone who is affected.
    My dad had dementia, and I Know it is a hardest of marathons. And it sounds like your mom's case is harder than his was.
    Hiking rim to rim is an Awesome feat and my dream. But caring for your mom is an even Bigger feat.
    I will thank you for your mom and tell you that somewhere in her heart, she is filled with awe and pride at your love.

  2. Thank you for your dedication to finding a cure! My mother died 8/13/2011. I miss her so badly and this disease is so hard on everyone involved!

  3. Love to you and your mom on this, the longest day.

  4. Good for you!!!

  5. What an inspiration!

  6. Thanks für doing this. Much love and healing energie from Germany. where I live since 2010 after 22 years Arizona. The Grand Canyon is a wonderful place to heal and collect some energie to continue caring for your mom.

    Love, Saskia

  7. Kathy your story hits home with me, my wife who is 57 years old also has FTD. My wife is in her later stage and being her sole caregiver at home has been a challenge.The days are endless but I do not want to place her some facility and not be sure of the care she will be getting.

    I agree that this disease is public enemy no. 1 and a cure must be found so that other families do not have to go through this ordeal.

    Good luck Dave

  8. Love and prayers. Thank you for your enduring compassion. My brother is my mom’s caregiver and I am so very grateful to him for being selfless 24-7. I love him so much and our mom. My dad is now more patient and does his best to be there for her. May God bless all those affected by this awful disease everywhere. I ran across a saying: “It is not I who speaks, but LIFE within me who has much to say”…..this is exactly what you are doing. Every step is worth it!

    • I have just retired after a extinseve nursing career of 43 yr s during which time I had a lot of experience with dementia and all that it entails. It is my contention that a lot of the problems with a person who has dementia is due to lack of understanding how they are perceiving the world and the lack of tolerance from the general population who seem to be lacking tolerance and basic good will.Society in general seems to need some sort of reformation to get in touch with some basic human qualities that would benefit everyone.As regards the day to day care of someone with dementia there is a need for a rethink about the way we support them and their carers.Because it makes sense for the person with dementia to stay in familiar surroundings and it is usually the carer that needs a complete break it would seem more sensible to put resources into putting carers into the persons home so the carer can get away and the dementia patient does not get a set back in having to stay in a place unfamiliar.We need to be talking more about how we can absorb suffers into our everyday life’s and educating people to not be afraid and involve people who are finding things confusing.Dementia does not have to be such a big deal if we approached it in a more generous and emotionally mature way. More and more of us will be facing this situation in the future and basically we need to grow up as a society and be more generous in how we regard each other and value our older citizens that have done so much and deserve our respect.

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