Aug 192016
 

My mom has been living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s for over nine years, diagnosed when she was just 53. This is why I Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This year will be my fourth Walk in honor of her and the millions of people diagnosed with this disease.

Some people mistakenly think that Alzheimer’s is a “cute” disease that happens to old people when they lose their memory.

When I posted a video on Facebook last year of my mom barely being able to move without my support during the mother-son dance at my wedding, people got a better understand how devastating Alzheimer’s can be. It isn’t cute at all. And when you see firsthand what this disease does to someone you love, it makes you want to do whatever you can to fight the disease and help wherever and whenever possible.

I’m also constantly inspired by my father, who has never wavered.IMG_7235 (1)

Dad is there taking care of my mom 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He does anything and everything you can imagine and more for her, always with a smile on his face. This is one of the many reasons I’ve found my Walk experience to be so rewarding. I do it for my mother, who has the disease, and my father, her devoted husband and caregiver.

Knowing that Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death in the top 10 in the U.S. that cannot be slowed, prevented or cured, the importance of Walking and raising as much money as possible is beyond critical.

My sister and her fiancé had been involved with the Walk in D.C. and it was their example that inspired me to reply to the email asking me to help out with the San Francisco walk two years ago. I started out as the chair of the sponsorship sub-committee, and this year I was lucky enough to be asked to co-chair the San Francisco Walk. I jumped at the opportunity!

I was able to raise just over $2,500 last year, and my goal this year is to top $3,000.

The most important thing anyone can do to raise funds is just ask. You never know which of your friends, family or coworkers might have a connection to the disease – or who just want to support you because they care about you! My wife Whitney and I discovered this quickly when we began our fundraising efforts, and it left us feeling so inspired.

I Walk for my mom and my dad. I also Walk for me.

I Walk to raise Alzheimer’s awareness as much as I Walk to raise money to put an end to husbands, wives, sons and daughters having to spend their lives caring for the people they love instead of enjoying the everyday moments that make life with those family members so special. I Walk so that I can live in a future without Alzheimer’s.

About the Author: Chris Reynolds is the co-chair for the San Francisco Walk to End Alzheimer’s. You can visit his team page here.

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Aug 092016
 

This is part one of a three-part series on the need to act decisively to address the Alzheimer’s crisis. Part two addresses the research needs and opportunities. Part three reveals public opinion on the need for government to act.

In the three seconds it takes you to read this sentence, taxpayers will have spent more than $15,000 on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Within the hour, the cost will reach $18.3 million.

Our nation’s entitlement programs are coming under increasing strain as the cost of Alzheimer’s and other dementias are poised to cost Medicare and Medicaid $160 billion this year alone. At this moment, more than five million people are living with the disease, and, without medical breakthroughs, by 2050 that statistic may be as high as 16 million people at a cost of $1.1 trillion per year to Medicare and Medicaid.

The baby-boom generation is on track to become Generation Alzheimer’s, as more than 28 million of them are expected to develop the disease.

Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia, is a progressive brain disorder that damages and eventually destroys brain cells, leading to loss of memory, thinking capacity and other brain functions. Over time, those with the disease become entirely dependent on others for all activities of daily living. Those with severe or late stage Alzheimer’s eventually lose their ability to eat, bathe and manage their own bodily functions. It is a devastating disease for those living with it and for their families who watch their loved ones slip away. Ultimately, Alzheimer’s is always fatal. We cannot yet celebrate a single Alzheimer’s survivor.ALZ-18.3M-01

What’s more, there are no available therapies to address the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s, making it the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. With its soaring prevalence, lack of effective treatment and skyrocketing costs, Alzheimer’s disease is a crippling triple threat unlike any other disease.

In just a few decades Alzheimer’s has reached epidemic proportions, while the federal research funding necessary to better understand and eliminate the disease has been insufficient to meet scientific recommendations. A few months ago, however, Congress took an important step with the largest-ever federal funding increase for Alzheimer’s disease research, which now totals nearly $1 billion per year. While this is a promising step in the journey to end this epidemic, the nation’s top scientists and researchers have told Congress that research funding must be brought up to at least $2 billion per year — a level comparable to that for other major diseases — if Congress intends to make adequate progress against this disease in time to be relevant for most Baby Boomers.

The Fiscal Imperative

Already America’s most expensive disease with an estimated cost of care at $236 billion a year, excluding unpaid family caregiving, the cost to our nation will only continue to grow as our nation’s population ages.

  • Today, an estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, including approximately 200,000 under the age of 65. One in nine people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s, and one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
  • Increasing age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s, and the U.S. population is aging. As baby boomers reach the age of greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s, it can be expected that — barring a treatment or breakthrough — millions of them will spend their retirement years either living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone who has it.
  • And while the medical community is working hard to find treatments, today the five drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat Alzheimer’s only temporarily help memory and thinking problems in about half of the people who take them. The medications do not treat the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s.
  • Alzheimer’s makes treating patients with multiple diseases more expensive, and most individuals with Alzheimer’s typically suffer from more than one chronic condition. For example, a patient with diabetes and Alzheimer’s costs Medicare 81 percent more than a patient who only has diabetes, according to our analysis of Medicare claims data.

This is a disastrous formula for Medicare. Today, Medicare already spends one dollar of every five on care for beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. By 2050, that will increase to one dollar of every three. And, in 2050 Medicare spending just on people with Alzheimer’s disease will be almost as much as the total defense budget is today.

About the Author: Robert J. Egge is the Alzheimer’s Association’s Chief Public Policy Officer and also serves as the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement

This post originally appeared on www.alzimpact.org.

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Jun 292016
 

Nikki Dodson is care partner for her husband Ken who has younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. They are both 37 years old. We spoke to them about their reality of being a young family with a very unique story and a huge passion for ending Alzheimer’s.

Nikki

Ken received his Alzheimer’s diagnosis a week before his 30th birthday. Needless to say, it was a very difficult time. Even gaining access to some Alzheimer’s informative resources has been hard due to Ken’s young age. Grants have to follow specific guidelines related to the federal budget, and a lot of programs are senior-based. There are many programs to teach children about grandma and grandpa having Alzheimer’s, but not mom and dad. So many doors were closed to us, and we heard so many no’s.

Suddenly I was in the position of earning our primary income because Ken had to stop working. We didn’t live above our means, but we lived to our means. We are not materialistic people, but the things we had we worked very hard for. We have also made it a goal to teach our children that education and working hard is important. To provide for our family after Ken’s diagnosis, we had to sell our belongings piece by piece just to make house payment and put gas in the car. There was even a case worker that told us to get divorced so we could get more money.

Alzheimer’s is a grieving process throughout; you are losing a loved one daily. I have three kids, a husband and a petting zoo at home, so I just try to make the best of each day, even if I have to dig deep and then deeper to make it all work. I do that for my family.

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Ken

The most important thing is to build a strong support group; it carries you. Nikki is by far my strongest supporter. At first I tried not talking about it, putting it out of the way, but it sunk in one day that if something isn’t done, my kids will be going through the same thing I am going through.

People need to know the truths about Alzheimer’s. They need to know that this is not an old person’s disease. They need to know that this is a fatal illness. If you don’t know the truth, you aren’t helping yourself or your family. I didn’t want to know, but if you don’t start talking about it, it’s never going to change. It can bankrupt the whole economy the way it is going. Something definitely has to be done.

Nikki

There is the stigma that it’s an old person’s disease which happens with age…that you expect it, or see it coming. That isn’t the case. This is not an elderly disease.  You watch some of the smartest people robbed of their dignity and independence. Ken notices the changes and sees where he is struggling, and that is why this middle part is the hardest.  He now has to second guess himself or look to me for guidance regarding things he has been doing on his own his whole life.  It not only affects the person with the disease; it affects the whole family dynamic. It has a ripple effect, but I refuse to let this disease win, even though I know what it’s doing.

IMG_5671 (1)It is hard and some days I want to give up. But I also have met some of the most amazing people. The Alzheimer’s Association knows us and our family, and it feels like an extended part of our family. Lauren Miller Rogen and Seth Rogen have done so much for us and helped us tell our story through the documentary film “This is Alzheimer’s.” I feel like I was a good person before Ken’s diagnosis, but my compassion truly came out with it. I realized that I could live in a personal hell of anger and frustration or I could make a difference. We have made it our focus to educate people, and I respond to hundreds of emails and social media contacts weekly.

Someone I know recently used the phrase “passion for compassion.” I love that. An ordinary person can do extraordinary things, and that is what we are trying to do. We are taking this negative and turning it into a positive. By sharing our story, we are helping to raise awareness and uncover the truths about Alzheimer’s.

 

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Jun 272016
 

“How many of you, either directly or indirectly, have been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease?”

This is the question I ask my colleagues every year at our kick-off meeting for Forget Me Not Days (FMND), the national Bankers Life fundraising campaign to support the Alzheimer’s Association. Every year, more people raise their hands.

For the past 14 years, Bankers Life has supported the Alzheimer’s Association through fundraising and advocating for early detection, which can help individuals and families affected by the disease prepare financially; this year the event was held on June 3 and 4, 2016.

Blog_Photo 1During FMND, Bankers Life employees go out into their communities to collect donations for local chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association, handing out packets of Forget-Me-Not flower seeds and asking that they be planted in honor of the more than 5 million people currently living with Alzheimer’s.

When I began supporting FMND in 2004, people were only vaguely familiar with Alzheimer’s disease, its symptoms, or its impact.

Today, awareness of the disease is greater than what it was ten years ago. I’m moved when I see the immense passion our employees put behind this effort and how the community is always looking for more ways to support research and education. Unfortunately, each year of this campaign, we encounter more people from all walks of life who have a personal connection to the disease and the devastation it causes.

My grandfather was treated for a form of dementia when I was in my early 20s. We didn’t know about Alzheimer’s at the time, but I suspect he had it. I can recall the mental, emotional and financial toll this disease had on my family, especially my devoted and caring parents. I vividly remember my parents lovingly and selflessly taking care of my grandfather, but being caught off guard by the cost.Blog_Photo 2

That is why Forget Me Not Days is more than just a few days of fundraising.

It’s a reminder of how important it is to make sure communities across the U.S. are educated about Alzheimer’s disease, aware of early detection methods and informed about the benefits of planning ahead for long-term care. It’s not a comfortable conversation to have, but it is one that can make such an enormous difference later on when dealing with the high costs of in-home care, medication and home safety modifications.

I’m proud of my more than 13 years of support for the Alzheimer’s Association and am committed to expanding our efforts, growing awareness and removing the stigma surrounding  Alzheimer’s. My hope is for a future without the disease. Until then, I will continue to do my part to help lessen the burden for my community.

Blog_Photo 3About the Author: Keith Lozowski serves as the Regional Director for the Florida Region of Bankers Life. His region consists of the offices in Jacksonville, Daytona, Tampa, Clearwater, Orlando, Gainesville, West Palm Beach and Miami, as well as satellite offices in Fleming Island, Orange City, Lakeland, St. Petersburg, Spring Hill, Tallahassee, Wesley Chapel, North Miami and Brunswick, Georgia. In addition, he serves as Branch Manager at the Jacksonville branch. Lozowski has been with Bankers Life for over 18 years.

 

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Jun 202016
 

Today is the The Longest Day, a sunrise-to-sunset event that symbolizes the challenging journey of those living with the disease and their caregivers. On June 14, 2012, my four siblings and I crowded around my father’s bed to say our final goodbyes. Ronald Paul Geguzys Sr. has been missed in so many ways since then, most especially by his children who never really got the chance to share him with our children. Dad passed away of Alzheimer’s just after his 73rd birthday. He left behind a wife, five kids, 11 grandchildren and many people who had the privilege of calling him a friend. He spent the bulk of his career at GE, growing steadily to CEO of the Ballast Division.gb3

He knew how to work hard and play hard. He was an avid sailor and loved all water sports. He taught us to ski practically from birth! He gave the best hugs and hearing his voice meant all was right in the world. His smile and laughter were infectious. I cannot remember a time growing up when he didn’t know the answer to a question, or at least have the ability to figure it out quickly.

Dad could build anything from scratch, including a car and his homes. Even with such “dad-like” hobbies he was the most gentle nurse when he had to care for my brother and I after we were severely injured in accidents just weeks apart.

He wasn’t perfect. He could be brutally honest, infuriating and inflexible. To know him, though, was to love him. Watching him forget little things was hard, but knowing he had no idea who his kids were was brutal. His death blew a hole in relationships that were built over a lifetime. Watching him suffer was more than we could bear.

gb1It has taken a few years for the pain of his passing to settle enough to push through and do something in his honor. Now, the time is right to honor his memory and join the fight against Alzheimer’s during The Longest Day. This year during the summer solstice we will raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association by “Lighting The Park” to honor my dad and others who have been affected by this disease.gb2

Tonight, as the sun sets on The Longest Day, we are meeting downtown in the park. Each person gathered will have a unique hand-blown glassybaby votive with a tea light inside. We will come together and make a statement by lighting our candles together and basking in each light’s glow. By joining as a group to remember and support those we love with Alzheimer’s, we will send a powerful message that we are stronger in numbers.

Growing up, my parents always taught us that together my siblings and I were a fist, as there were five of us, and alone we were just digits. I would like to think the same rule applies to fighting Alzheimer’s. Together we can make a difference. Together we can raise awareness and funds to research a way to finally eradicate this disease so no one has to fight this awful fight.

About the Author: Vicki Fredman is participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day®, a sunrise-to-sunset event on June 20, 2016, to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

Jun 202016
 

My sister Rose first got in touch with the Alzheimer’s Association about three years ago on behalf of our mother. Since then, and the organization and local chapter has helped my family in so many ways. Today we give back by once again participating in The Longest Day, a sunrise-to-sunset event that symbolizes the challenging journey of those living with the disease and their caregivers.2014_TLD_Denver_MotorcycleRide_0855 (1)

Years ago, when Rose and I first talked about how we could raise money for the cause, we decided to organize a motorcycle “poker run.” We ride our motorcycles to specific checkpoints and draw a playing card at each one, the object being to have the best poker hand at the end of the run.

This afternoon is our third annual The Longest Day Poker Run. There are about a dozen Harley Davidsons in our family, and with all the friends we have with Harleys, we knew this would be a popular event. In fact, I feel like it has become a family tradition! It’s just one small way to give back to the Association for what it has done for us.

2014_TLD_Denver_MotorcycleRide_1001 (1)I’m so proud to participate in The Longest Day. I knew we had to do something for mom and the millions affected by Alzheimer’s, and when you plan and host an event such like this, you really see the people out there who have been affected by this terrible disease. You run into a lot of people who pour their heart out about their connection to the cause. I met a bar owner who cried on my shoulder; he could relate to our fight and he was in a position where he could help us. He advertised about our event in his bar, brought in a live band and was very giving.

As a captain of my team, the day-of is constantly on your mind…is it gonna work, is it gonna happen? And somehow, it does, through the help of many friends, families and local businesses. Last year we exceeded our goal, and we are well on our way to do the same this year. Today we’ve even gotten the kids involved with an obstacle course at a local park. Anyone of any age can help put an end to Alzheimer’s, and today we join together in different ways to draw attention to the cause.2014_TLD_Denver_MotorcycleRide_0387 (1)

We lost our beloved mother to dementia last September. Our longest days were the last few months with her, which were really painful for everyone. It seems like those months lasted forever. We don’t want anyone else to go through that pain, and that is why we raise funds and awareness today. This is a fatal illness that no one should take lightly. It can affect anyone. Together we can change its course; today, on The Longest Day, fight for your family and for your memories. Fight by joining together.

2014_TLD_Denver_MotorcycleRide_0431 (1)About the Author: Together with his family and friends, Randy Ceja  is participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day®, a sunrise-to-sunset event on June 20, 2016, to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. You can visit Randy’s page here.

Jun 202016
 

Alzheimer’s disease is fast becoming a global epidemic.  Every 66 seconds, someone in America develops the disease.  We need to end Alzheimer’s – hopefully for our sakes – but also for the futures of our children and grandchildren.

This is my fifth year participating in The Longest Day, a sunrise-to-sunset event that symbolizes the challenging journey of those living with the disease and their caregivers. While I participate in the event in memory of my father, as well as my brother – who passed away with this disease just four weeks ago – I also do so in support of all of those battling Alzheimer’s, and their caregivers. I have now twice seen how devastating this disease can be, and the emotional toll it takes on a family.tomw1

My father Henry was an incredibly interesting and talented individual. Over the years, he owned and operated an amusement and concession business, bought a corner grocery store and operated Winkel’s Accounting and Tax Service. My dad truly was my first role model.

My brother Wayne and his loving wife had seven incredible children, eighteen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. He was my second role model and, while I miss him very much, I take solace in knowing that he is now in a much better place, and will not have to endure the worst of the terrible disease that is Alzheimer’s.

Today I am privileged to captain the Association’s National Board Team on The Longest Day.  We have established a very ambitious goal of raising $150,000 – and I am very confident we will accomplish our goal!

tomw2From sunrise to sunset, my team and I will do everything from biking and walking to dancing, cooking, swimming and fishing; one of my fellow board members also will be hosting a radio call-in show as part of this team effort. We will all join together in our different ways for one cause, and we will raise awareness every step of the way.

I wish all of you good luck with your Longest Day activities today and thank you from the bottom of my heart for participating in this critically important event to raise awareness and resources for the millions of people living with this disease. Together we can ensure that our families will one day live in a world without Alzheimer’s.

 About the Author: Tom Winkel currently serves on the National Board of Directors of the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago where he also serves as Treasurer and Chairman of the Finance Committee. He previously served on the Board of the Alzheimer’s Association Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter in Milwaukee. Tom is participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day®, a sunrise-to-sunset event on June 20, 2016, to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Tom Winkel lives in the Milwaukee, WI area. You can view his page here.

Jun 202016
 

Today I’m honoring LuAnne and the 47 million people around the world who are living with Alzheimer’s by participating in The Longest Day, a sunrise-to-sunset event that symbolizes the challenging journey of those living with the disease and their caregivers.

How can I tell you about my wife LuAnne? In the simplest words, she is the love of my life and my bride since the age of 19. But words escaped me when, at 55, LuAnne was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.I still love being with LuAnne, but because of Alzheimer’s, she can no longer tell me what she sees, what she feels or what she wants. And while conversation eludes us, on The Longest Day I will use words in another way. From sunrise to sunset, I will write poetry in honor of LuAnne, and share my work publicly on a blog I created just for the event. Why poetry? Because, in the words of poet and philosopher David Whyte, poetry is “a language against which we have no defenses.” It’s a way I can speak of LuAnne that encapsulates everything I’m feeling — from my continuing love for her to my deep sadness about this devastating disease.brad anderson 3

brad anderson 7Writing poetry was unexpected. As LuAnne’s condition worsened, I didn’t know how to describe my intense emotions, and I needed to find a new way to articulate the impact Alzheimer’s was having on our lives. I participated in an online course about caring for a person with Alzheimer’s, which focused on ways to reduce stress and agitation for those living with the disease.What I also learned that is just as important, and what I would advise any other caregivers, is to figure out what you can do to reduce your stress and be a better spouse, partner, friend, and caregiver. Poetry was an answer for me. Once I started, poetry quickly became my go-to language to express my feelings about our battle with Alzheimer’s.

bradaToday friends and family will find me writing at home and places nearby that are special to LuAnne and me. I may struggle to find the “right” words as I reflect on the emotions that come with being LuAnne’s caregiver, but I know my fight will be nothing compared to LuAnne’s battle with Alzheimer’s. I will not let Alzheimer’s have the final word – those words belong to me, and to LuAnne, and our love story.

(from ‘Prairie Dance’, a poem by Brad Anderson)

I walk amidst her memory

Through the tallgrass and the dreams

I dream upon the hilltop

Of her spirit and her dance

It feels empowering to be able to honor LuAnne through the written word today, The Longest Day.

bander

 

About the Author: Brad Anderson wants to show those facing Alzheimer’s disease that they are not alone in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day®, a sunrise-to-sunset event on June 20, 2016, to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Click here to visit Brad’s The Longest Day page.

 

 

 

Jun 202016
 

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Today, on The Longest Day, my husband and I will wake up early to hike Mount Evans in Colorado with our team of friends, the Mile High Memory Club. It’s our third year participating in The Longest Day, a sunrise-to-sunset event that symbolizes the challenging journey of those living with the disease and their caregivers. This will be our second year hiking a Colorado 14’er (elevation: 14,265’) to honor someone we love very much who is living with Alzheimer’s – my mother.

Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago, but she has been silently suffering for much longer than that. If you have ever known anyone with Alzheimer’s, then you know what a cruel disease this is. Once diagnosed, the person knows their fate, and my mom has already seen firsthand what this disease does. Her mother – my grandmother – also had Alzheimer’s. Because of this, for years prior to her diagnosis, my mother knew what was happening to her and knew what was coming.  It was, no doubt, terrifying for her. Over time, she was going to lose the one thing she had spent her whole life creating – her memories.

ss1The reality of what is happening to my mom – and therefore, to our family – has been unfolding for quite some time. Over the years, my mom spent much of her time trying to hide her disease.  Unfortunately, there is no way for her to hide it anymore. The disease is progressing and it is heartbreaking to watch. My father is her primary caregiver and is doing an amazing job. Although I know he is exhausted, his patience never waivers.

Dad is there for mom today on The Longest Day and will be there for her always. They celebrated their 50th anniversary last year, but sadly, each day my dad loses another piece of the woman he has loved for all of these years – and I lose another piece of my mom. I am taking action today in order to make sure other families don’t have to watch their loved ones disappear in front of them.

We hike in honor of my mom and the 47 million people living with Alzheimer’s worldwide. We also hike for all of the families and caregivers supporting their loved ones. The more awareness we can bring to this disease – and the more funds we can raise for the Alzheimer’s Association – the closer we will come to putting an end to it.ss3

It is a privilege to be a part of The Longest Day. While I cannot turn back time and change what is happening to my mother, I can have a small part in fighting this disease and hopefully living to see a day without Alzheimer’s.

About the Author: Sarah Springer is participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day®, a sunrise-to-sunset event on June 20, 2016, to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Visit her personal page here.

Jun 192016
 

Although I have summited 20 of the 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, my hikes up these peaks in the last few years have taken a whole new meaning. Tomorrow, I am climbing three “14ers” in one day along with my team Ascending for Alzheimer’s. Our climb is part of The Longest Day,  a sunrise-to-sunset event that symbolizes the challenging journey of those living with the disease and their caregivers.

johno1Three years ago, I received news that was not really a surprise, but still hit me straight in the heart. My dad was diagnosed with early-stage progressive dementia. His actions prior to the diagnosis led us to believe that he may have something wrong with him, but to hear the diagnosis of “dementia” from a doctor was terrifying and heartbreaking. It also prompted many questions from every one of my family members.john02

My first instinct was to conduct research. This led me directly to the Alzheimer’s Association where I immediately signed up for classes that taught me more about the disease and provided resources for both my mom (my dad’s primary caregiver) and myself (secondary caregiver.) Seeing all the great work that the Alzheimer’s Association did made me want to become more involved.

johno5This is how I found out about The Longest Day, an event where I could choose my own activity to help raise funds and awareness for the cause. I came across the Association’s various fundraising initiatives and was immediately intrigued that I could help by simply doing what I love – hiking! So in 2014, I formed my first team to support The Longest Day event.

My team hiked up Mount Sherman, all dressed in their purple shirts. At the summit we were met with an unexpected surprise as a cello ensemble was performing in effort to break a Guinness record for highest elevation cello concert! It was a great opportunity to spread the word about Alzheimer’s and The Longest Day, and our team raised over $1,700.

Last year, my team climbed Mount Shavano. Though the summit was spectacular, the most exciting part of the climb was actually the descent – a “glissade” of nearly 2,000 feet of elevation. Each of us took turns sitting and sliding down the snow field. It was fun, safe and saved our knees from the brutal hike down. Our team raised over $5,000!

Tomorrow we are hiking Mount Lincoln, Mount Democrat and Mount Bross all in one day in hopes to raise $5,000 once again. Our event begins tonight with camping at the trailhead, where I am making a Dutch oven lasagna and fruit cobbler. Tomorrow, we are getting on the trail early – a  6:00 am start.john03

I will think of my dad as I climb. He is now in the middle-stage of dementia. He uses a walker or cane to get around. He struggles every day to walk, talk, eat – all the things you and I take for granted. The hike will remind me of the struggles those living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias go through every day. As I hit my “wall” at about 12,500 feet and my whole body is screaming at me to stop, turn around and just go back to the comfort of my couch at home, I will push through to the summit… just like my dad pushes through every day. But tomorrow isn’t just any day. Tomorrow is The Longest Day.


About the Author:
 John Osmundson is hiking to raise funds and Alzheimer’s awareness in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day®, a sunrise-to-sunset event on June 20, 2016, to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Click here to visit John’s page.

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