Mar 252016
 

Brenda Bouchard is certainly qualified to advocate on behalf of people affected by Alzheimer’s. The 58-year-old New Hampshire resident serves as a full-time caregiver for her mother with the disease, as well as for her husband, Ken, 69, who has younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

My husband was just 59 years old when our journey began.

bbouchardHe, like his grandfather, mother, seven aunts and uncles and two older brothers before him was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. That was 10 years ago. My 89-year-old mother lives with us; four years ago, she was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. People with mild cognitive impairment have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and that’s exactly what happened to my mother.

Alzheimer’s has devastated our family. What was once normal for our family is no more. We’re missing an important link. Our lives are forever changed. Throughout the Alzheimer’s journey, everyone walks his or her own path. Life is ever changing in ways we never could have imagined — and not for the better. Alzheimer’s is a disease of behavior. With each change in behavior, people with the disease and caregivers alike stand on shifting sand. The ground beneath our feet is never solid. It’s always moving.

The most difficult aspect of this experience is the loss of my husband and my mother.

Their bodies and spirits are here, but their minds have been altered and the precious gift that was their memory is gone. It’s a slow, agonizing loss and very, very difficult for them to cope with and extremely painful for us to watch.

In the early stage of the disease, it was very difficult to look at Ken and know he was a prisoner in his brain. He was aware of what was happening. He knew he was losing his mind and would continue to do so — he knew what was to come.  Through the middle stage, it was heartbreaking to be a helpless bystander as Ken lost his ability to drive and participate in all of the hobbies he loved so very much. He lost his independence. And then there was the sinking feeling as we stood by and watched him struggle to comprehend why he could no longer independently do so many of the things he loved, and there wasn’t a thing we could do to stop the march of Alzheimer’s or assuage the emotional pain he was enduring.

Ken is now in late stage. We’re very fortunate as Ken has great care and a lot of love surrounding him. He’s extremely happy in his new world, but I often wonder what the Ken of 10 years or more ago would think of his life today now that he can no longer take care of himself in any way. It’s heartbreaking to contemplate.

As I watched the grueling losses and changes this disease was wreaking on him and our family, I recognized I didn’t want to sit idly by and do nothing.

We were very private people, and when my husband was diagnosed, he wasn’t comfortable sharing his diagnosis. It was a very big decision to speak out publicly about Ken’s diagnosis because at the outset I felt I was betraying him. Initially, I didn’t realize that by speaking out, even in small ways, I was honoring Ken’s life and the person he was and also giving a voice to many people who are in the same situation and yet unable to speak out.

I never thought I would become an Alzheimer’s advocate, but out of all this loss and horror, I feel I’m joining voices with other advocates to make a difference. And we are making a difference. Every time we speak up and speak out, we’re changing the culture and climate around Alzheimer’s. We’re collectively making a difference in Washington by making them aware that we’re here and we’re not going to stop speaking up and speaking out until Alzheimer’s gets the attention it so greatly needs and deserves.


I started advocating when our local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association asked me to come to our state capitol to testify on a bill that would put a plan in place for Alzheimer’s and related dementias in our state.

At that time, New Hampshire was one of only 13 states without a plan. I made three trips to Concord to testify on that bill over the course of a year-and-a-half. It was signed into law in August of 2014. It was an extremely satisfying experience to realize that by sharing our story I may have contributed to making a difference for people who are just starting their journey.

A local videographer made a short film about our journey titled “Honoring Ken.” Our film has been viewed more 30,000 times and has made its way around the world to England, Pakistan, Australia and beyond. I also started a YouTube channel and a Facebook page spotlighting our advocacy work and everyone else who has traveled or will travel this path.

This past summer, I met with one of our representatives and a representative from one of our senator’s offices in New Hampshire to discuss Alzheimer’s.

I’m very excited to attend the Advocacy Forum. Having done some advocacy work in my home state, I’m now anxious to advocate in Washington. I’m  looking forward to meeting with elected officials and sharing my story and the heartbreaking stories of so many people I’ve met. I’m also very excited to meet other advocates, hear their stories of advocacy, learn from them, share my personal lessons learned and continue to be inspired.

I believe I’ve been, and continue to be, one spoke in the wheel of Alzheimer’s advocacy. We’re all working together to be heard, make a difference and make change. I feel, sense and believe we’re doing just that.

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Feb 222016
 

25-year-old Founder and CEO of Lokai, Steven Izen, talks about his personal experience with Alzheimer’s disease and how it inspired him to create the purple Lokai bracelet to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

Tell us about your connection to Alzheimer’s and your journey with the disease.

My grandpa – known as “Papa” – was a man’s man and above everything else, extremely hard working. He had a great love for the water and was an avid boater. When I was a young kid, we would fish together on the docks in Florida. We were very close.LOKAIIZENPAPA

In 2010, I was on the beach vacationing with family and thinking how lucky I was to be with people that meant so much to me when I learned that Papa had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Everyone who has had an experience with Alzheimer’s knows how it feels. The news brought me to a dramatic low for the first time in my life. It was in such contrast to the gratitude I had been feeling to be on vacation in a beautiful place with people I loved. This contrast sparked the idea for Lokai.

Every Lokai has a black bead that holds mud from the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, signifying the difficult moments you experience throughout life. The white bead holds water from Mt. Everest, the highest point on Earth, representing life’s highest moments. These two elements represent life – its highs and its lows and how they come together and change in cycles throughout one’s journey.

Alzheimer’s progressed quickly in my Papa’s case, within two years. Although he didn’t remember what I was working on, he knew I had started my own company, and I know he was proud.

What was your family’s reaction to the creation of the purple Lokai bracelet in support of the Alzheimer’s Association?

My Nana (Papa’s wife, my grandmother) loves wearing her purple Lokai bracelet. This Lokai means so much to her and my family, especially since Papa was my inspiration to start the company.

My Papa taught me that you have to be willing to work hard to succeed, and he instilled an entrepreneurial spirit in me. I wish I could show him all that he inspired me to accomplish.

What do you want to see happen to combat Alzheimer’s in your lifetime?

I believe in funding research. I have personally experienced what it is like having someone you love live and die with Alzheimer’s, so I obviously know how important caregiving resources are, but at the end of the day, I want to see the end of Alzheimer’s. We need to invest in and spend time on research; that is what I really want to support.

Giving back is important to me. Lokai has created a global community of females, males, teens, grandparents and even high-profile athletes – everyone and anyone who has experienced life’s highs and lows. They share photos and memories on social media and draw attention to the cause.

What would you like to say to those with a connection to Alzheimer’s who continue to experience its highs and lows?

I encourage anyone who has a connection to Alzheimer’s to try something new. Don’t be afraid to fail. Make your dreams a reality. No matter how low your lows in life are, there are people supporting your journey in finding its high points. Never give up hope.

And during the lows, know that you aren’t alone. After visiting Papa, we used to go out to lunch or dinner, recalling funny stories about him. Even though it was sad, it was a way to fit in some laughs in honor of him, and was a way for us to bond and reflect together as a family.

I’ve seen how much each color of the Lokai bracelet affects people who support its cause; it’s so close to their hearts. I’m so happy that I have founded a company that is trying to make a difference based on Alzheimer’s, a cause that is so close to my heart. We need support from people of all ages if we are going to put an end to Alzheimer’s, and giving back is part of the Lokai DNA. I am proud to be part of this fight, and I know my Papa would be proud too.

Lokai was built on the memory of Founder and CEO Steven Izen’s grandfather, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010 and passed away in 2012.

Lokai will donate one dollar ($1.00) to the Alzheimer’s Association for each purple Lokai sold between February 1, 2016 and February 29, 2016 with a minimum contribution of $300,000.

Learn More:

Feb 112016
 

Women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Nearly two-thirds of the more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women and two-thirds of the more than 15 million Americans providing care and support for someone with Alzheimer’s disease are women. This devastating disease places an unbalanced burden on women at work and at home, forcing them to make difficult choices about their careers, their relationships and  their futures.

As real a concern as breast cancer is to women’s health, women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop AD over the rest of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer.

So why does this disease seem to affect more women than men? At first glance, the answer may be that women generally live longer than men, making them more likely to reach the ages of greater risk. However, there is emerging evidence that suggests there may be unique biological reasons for these differences beyond longevity alone. These biological underpinnings may contribute to the underlying brain changes, progression and symptom manifestation in Alzheimer’s disease.

There is evidence that biological sex differences may affect mortality in men differently than women, but how that affects Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia incidence is not clear. Do hormones play a role? What about our genes? Do lifestyle components such as sleep patterns, stress and depression influence sex differences in Alzheimer’s disease?

To tackle many of these questions head on, the Alzheimer’s Association convened top experts in the field of biological sex and Alzheimer’s disease to explore these issues in depth. The “Gender Vulnerability Related to Alzheimer’s Disease” think tank identified gaps in our knowledge and next steps in research needed to advance our understanding. During the think tank, three main topics were discussed: underlying biological mechanisms, the role of hormonal factors and the impact of lifestyle factors.

As a direct result of this think tank, the Alzheimer’s Association announced the new Sex and Gender in Alzheimer’s (SAGA) grant funding program, aimed at supporting scientific investigation that addresses the gaps in our understanding of the role biological sex and related genetic, biological, lifestyle and societal factors may play in increasing vulnerability for Alzheimer’s. Additionally, projects funded through SAGA will help meet a need to incorporate learnings from the developing biology fields to merge the expanding field of sex biology research with Alzheimer’s pathophysiological studies.mariacarrillo

As with all of our grants, applications for SAGA funding will undergo the Alzheimer’s Association’s rigorous peer-review process. I look forward to sharing more about these grants when they are awarded later this year.

 

About the Author: Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., is Chief Science Officer, Medical and Scientific Relations, at the Alzheimer’s Association.

SAGA was made possible from the generous support of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Research Initiative (WARI), a campaign that supports research grants specific to sex-biology and gender issues in Alzheimer’s and other dementias. To date, the Alzheimer’s Association has raised $1.6 million for the initiative, including a generous $1 million in support from the Sigma Kappa Foundation.

 

Feb 112016
 

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we are featuring video blog stories of couples who are dealing with Alzheimer’s. Setting any commercial hype around the Valentine’s Day holiday aside, love is all that really matters. Love is what brings couples together and helps them build lives together. Love is what keeps a care partner going on the difficult days. Enjoy the videos below to learn what Valentine’s Day means to those living with Alzheimer’s, from wedding days and lifelong commitment to the simple and sweet ways they show each other love on a daily basis.

Angie and John discuss John’s special way of showing Angie his love on the Valentine’s Day holiday before and after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

 

 

Nancy and Rod reflect on the best parts of each other and what they love most.

 

Tracy and Jennifer talk about getting married and the importance of being there for one another for the rest of their lives.

These videos originally appeared on www.alzheimersblog.org.
Jan 212016
 

“Was I there, too?” Mom asks as my dad tells us about a concert they attended Monday night.

“Of course,” he responds.

“I don’t remember,” Mom replies. “I don’t even know if I’m here or there.”

We laugh, because in context, it’s funny. What it means, however, is that Mom is aware of her memory loss, of her dislocation from time, of her inability to live beyond the moment.

We’ve accepted this about her. And in fact, as Mom’s abilities decline, some things are easier. Mom doesn’t fight me anymore when I need to cut her nails. She willingly holds hands when we cross the street. And, whereas before she rejected sandwiches for lunch, she happily eats them because we now cut them into bite-sized bits she can eat with a fork.broccoli

What remains a mystery is how Mom, who sits on the sidelines for most conversations, suddenly enters the fray with a zinging comment. Here’s an example from this afternoon.

As most of their bills are in Hebrew, Daddy and I have taken to going over them together to make sure he understands them. He has a pile of papers waiting for me when I get there, and as we sift through them, I notice that one whole stack is not for him. The address is right, but the name on the letter does not correspond to anyone in their apartment. When we finally decipher the last name (Hebrew is written without any vowels, so it is sometimes a guessing game as to how to pronounce words), Daddy realizes the papers are for their upstairs neighbors, the Pe’er family.

“I think they’ve both died,” Daddy says, “although, maybe she’s still alive.”

And then Mom, transliterating from Hebrew to make a joke: “What a pair they are.”

Zing.

Mom’s brain is functioning.

We laugh long and hard over that joke. It is a small celebration of her vitality and it makes us feel as if our efforts to keep her active and engaged do have an effect.

As I gather my things to head home, Mom tells me she’ll miss me. “I’m like a yo-yo,” I say. “I’m leaving now, but I keep coming back.”

“But when will I see you?”

“I’ll visit next week,” I promise. Mom is still with us. I want to experience that for as long as I can.

The thing about broccoli is that it’s good brain food. The broccoli kugel featured here is in honor of Mom’s phenomenal brain.

Broccoli Kugel

If you’re not overly fond of broccoli, you can substitute almost any other vegetable—cauliflower, squash and carrots, spinach, even cabbage—and still create a hearty vegetable side dish. My favorite: broccoli. This works with fresh broccoli, too.

800 grams (1.7 pounds) frozen thawed broccoli, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic

4 eggs

4 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 Tsp mustard

4 Tbsp flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Paprika to sprinkle on top

Directions:

Sauté onions and garlic until they begin to brown. Let cool. In a large bowl, mix eggs, flour, mustard and mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Add broccoli and onion mixture. Pour into a small casserole dish and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until browned on sides and top.

About the Author: Miriam Green writes a weekly blog at thelostkichen.org that chronicles through prose, poetry and recipes her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s.  Her unpublished cookbook, “The Lost Kitchen: An Alzheimer’s Memoir and Cookbook” is filled with advice for the novice cook, easy and elegant recipes and home-spun caregiver advice. Her poem, “Questions My Mother Asked, Answers My Father Gave Her,” won the 2013 Reuben Rose Poetry prize. Miriam is a 20-year resident of Beer Sheva, Israel, and a mother of three.

 

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Jan 122016
 

Let me start by simply saying thank you! Thank you for your tireless work in the medical field. You may be prescribing or handing her medication, and checking for side effects. Maybe you are the nurse’s aide who helps her get dressed in the morning and reminds her where the dining room is. Are you the social worker who takes my concerned calls? Or the lab technician who draws her routine blood work? Maybe you are the one who did her chest X-ray when she had that horrible cough.dil

Whatever role you play in the care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, please know that I see you. I see how you care about and even love her. I hear you lovingly call her “honey” and “sweetie” and laugh with her when she is confusingly silly. You are so important in the life of a patient with Alzheimer’s disease.

I am a healthcare professional myself, a nurse, but first I am human.  I am the daughter of an amazing woman who has been stricken with a horrible disease. I would like you to see the person my mom was, not the person she is now. Everyone with Alzheimer’s disease has a life story behind them. I would like you to hear Mom’s. She had a life before this disease took her away from us and into your care.

My mother is one of 15 children, and was raised on a farm in upstate New York. Of those 15 children, seven of them have died from, or currently have, Alzheimer’s disease. Our family suffers continually as we watch our dear mother fade farther and farther away from us. I hope you realize, that sometimes, you are not only taking care of my mom, you are taking care of her family. That sometimes your words comfort us and sometimes they anger us. We are really doing the best we can with this very important loss in our life.

So thank you for taking a step back — to see who my mom was before Alzheimer’s — as you care for her every day. And thank you for taking the time to get to know the stories of all the patients in your care with this disease. I bet you will find they led interesting lives. Please find the joy in them.

They need you so much. They need you to see them, to see they are just as human as you are. They need kindness and respect. They need you to help maneuver their very confusing days. They need dignity. They need silliness and smiles, compassion and love, patience and hugs. They need you, and their families need you.

About the Author:

Christine Dileone MSN, RN, is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing.  She uses the resources of the Alzheimer’s Association in her teaching, specifically on communication techniques with dementia patients to maintain dignity.  She is a Ph.D. nursing student at the University of Connecticut, and plans to continue research with individuals with Alzheimer’s.  She coordinates a monthly Alzheimer’s support group and is actively involved in the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s® as well as The Champions in the Fight Against Alzheimer’s Women’s Campaign.

 

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Dec 152015
 

The holiday season that commences with Thanksgiving and concludes on New Year’s Day is one of my absolute favorite times of the year. Even though I struggle with the daily demands of younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease, this time of year is special because I am filled with the joy, peace and hope.

I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in November of 2009, so I’ve had lots of time to learn to cope with the challenges of this disease.

This will be my seventh Christmas season since my diagnosis. Here at the Hornback Homestead (a name we’ve given our family home), we go all out for Christmas. Decorating our home and grounds has been a family tradition for decades. Every room in our home has at least one themed tree. Some of our favorites include a Longaberger basket tree, family picture tree, nature tree, angel tree, military tree and a White House ornament tree. We start decorating right after Thanksgiving and usually complete the task within two weeks. At night, our home – which sits atop a small hill – gently glows with the warmth of thousands of white Christmas lights.hornbackfamily

In our neck of the woods, this time of year is celebrated with down-home gatherings of family and friends.

One especially wonderful time at the Hornback Homestead is Christmas morning breakfast. We serve platters of poached eggs, country ham, red-eye gravy, biscuits, smoke-cured bacon, special seasoned sausage and white sausage gravy. It is a delightful meal our family enjoys with my wife’s side of the family just before we open presents on Christmas morning.

It also has been our tradition to host a large open house for the community at our home. However, this tradition will change this year as I’m unable to handle large crowds as well as I once did. Instead, we will host smaller groups of friends and family at our home.

I’ve found that smaller groups are much easier for me to handle. If things get too hectic, I often leave the room and find a place of solitude until my stress and confusion subside. If I’m having trouble communicating, I simply listen and enjoy the company rather than attempt to join in the conversation. These strategies have made the holidays more enjoyable.

A huge part of our holiday traditions center on our faith.

We celebrate this time of year with our church family as we joyfully thank God for His many blessing throughout the year. Even in the midst of living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I have so much to be thankful for in my life: a devoted and caring wife, a loving and understanding family, a top-notch team of medical professionals, an active and caring Alzheimer’s Association, a new clinical trial for Alzheimer’s disease, faithful and helpful friends, wonderful support groups and a compassionate and caring God who gives me strength for my daily battles.

As you enter this holiday season, let your heart be filled with the joy and peace which the angels declared over 2000 years ago.

To my wife and family, thank you for the joy you shower my life with, for making every day special and for loving me unconditionally. From our home at the Hornback Homestead, we pray that God’s rich blessing will blanket your home and family during this holiday season.

About the Author: Paul Hornback was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2009. He is a member of the Alzheimer’s Association 2015 National Early-Stage Advisory Group and encourages newly diagnosed individuals to stay positive and active.

Paul and his wife Sarah live in Hodgenville, KY. Together they have three children.

Dec 092015
 

“I don’t know if I’m lost or not,” Mom said as walked in the city. We were holding hands, the sun gracing us with warmth, the sheltering sky bright and blue.

I keep wondering what it’s like to feel that everything around you lacks substance, that what you knew a minute ago is now no longer familiar. What happens when your depth perception goes, and the general hubbub of the city becomes not just loud, but physically overwhelming? Or when you’re constantly feeling like something is missing—your bag, a shoe, your young child—but you don’t remember what it was or how to explain it.miriamblog

The other day as I was driving aound town, I suddenly realized I didn’t know where I was going. I could not remember how to navigate from point A to point B. The information I relied on was missing; it felt utterly blank inside my head.

Compared to some, Mom is doing great. She can still function in the world, to a lesser extent. We had a strange conversation at lunch where she asked me if my mother sang to me as a child. Who was I in her eyes, I wondered? Not her daughter. Not her sister. Who could I have been?

Sometimes it is enough to know that she enjoys my company. As I enjoy hers. As I leave my house each Tuesday and set out on my journey, I start narrowing my day’s focus. I put aside other thoughts, other chores, other aspects of me. I pack away my ego. I steel myself to the mystery, delight, and heartache of being with my child mother.

As we light the fourth candle of Chanukah tonight, let the light that shines so brightly from our individual flames light the darkness that is Alzheimer’s. Let us bring our precious loved ones into the light with us and treat them as kindly as we can.

I couldn’t let Chanukah pass by without making doughnuts. I love those ubiquitous fried dough balls. But who needs 600 calories every time you eat one! It’s not really about need, I know, but there are alternatives if you want to indulge without the shemen, oil, making you shamen, fat.

No-fry Doughnuts

These doughnuts are nearly as good as the real thing—sweet and light, and a whole lot fewer calories. Makes 12-16 bite-size doughnuts.

1 cup soy milk
¼ cup oil
¼ cup date honey
½ Tbsp yeast
1 tsp salt
2-3 cups flour

Coffee Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp prepared coffee

Chocolate Glaze:

½ cup chocolate chips
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp water

Directions:

Heat soy milk, oil and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then let cool. In a large bowl, mix flour, yeast and salt, and form a small hollow in the flour. Pour warm milk mixture into bowl with flour and mix. Kneed, adding flour if needed, until dough is springy to the touch but not sticky. Form dough into small round balls and place on baking sheet, making sure to leave room for them to rise. Let rise in warm room for up to 1 hour. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. For toppings: Coffee—Mix 2 Tbsp prepared coffee with 1 cup powdered sugar. Stir to remove lumps. Chocolate—Combine ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for 40 seconds. Stir to melt all the chips. Dip rounded top of doughnuts into one or both mixtures, then let sit so glaze will harden.

About the Author: Miriam Green writes a weekly blog at thelostkichen.org that chronicles through prose, poetry and recipes her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s.  Her unpublished cookbook, “The Lost Kitchen: An Alzheimer’s Memoir and Cookbook” is filled with advice for the novice cook, easy and elegant recipes and home-spun caregiver advice. Her poem, “Questions My Mother Asked, Answers My Father Gave Her,” won the 2013 Reuben Rose Poetry prize. Miriam is a 20-year resident of Beer Sheva, Israel, and a mother of three. You can visit her Facebook page here.

Nov 202015
 

There is a day for giving thanks, and now there is a day dedicated to giving back. December 1 marks the fourth year of Giving Tuesday, a global day of charitable giving. Thanks to our generous donor, Vicky Patel, your donation on Giving Tuesday can go twice as far. She’s agreed to give the Association $1 million if we can raise the same amount by December 31.

Giving Tuesday is fueled by the power of social media and by people just like you. Donate in the spirit of giving this season and share why you give with the hashtags #ENDALZ and #GivingTuesday. Join this global movement and support the fight to end Alzheimer’s by sharing your photos on Twitter and Instagram to see them featured here in this blog!

Rotz
“We give to the Alzheimer’s Association so that future children will never have to know how to pronounce Alzheimer’s.”— Tom Rotz
Fawn
“I give to the Alzheimer’s Association because of the millions of family caregivers who provide care every day. Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that affects the entire family. I give because I care about caregivers and the ones they love.”— Fawn Cothran
Mary
“I give to the Alzheimer’s Association because I have seen, lived and experienced the devastation that Alzheimer’s can cause. No one can put an end to this disease alone, but together, we can make a difference. By advocating and raising funds, there is hope for the future.”— Mary Fus
Melissa
“I give to the Alzheimer’s Association to honor my mom Anne, who died from Alzheimer’s, and to make sure others do not have to go through what we did as a family.”— Melissa Shilliday
Victor
“I give to the Alzheimer’s Association because my dad was diagnosed in 2013. I want to support our heroes — caregivers, family members and those living with Alzheimer’s. I love you, dad!”— Victor Guzman
Maya
“I give to the Alzheimer’s Association because of my Papa Charlie who has Alzheimer’s. I raise money to help find a cure so other kids don’t have to see their Papa sick like mine. Good things will come if you put your heart to it.”— Maya Leachman
Megg
“I give to the Alzheimer’s Association because I want to do my part to protect the memories we build every day. Losing my grandma to Alzheimer’s opened my eyes to the heartbreaking cognitive, emotional, and physical impact of the disease. My hope is that each dollar raised is a step closer to a cure.”— Meg Fertig

Nov 182015
 

Laura HanniganIt’s a lot easier to say change isn’t easy than it is to experience change yourself.  I recently found this out firsthand when I said goodbye to friends, residents and coworkers at Brookdale Hillsborough, where I served as the Clare Bridge program manager for two years. In becoming the new executive director at Brookdale Hamilton, I wouldn’t be far away geographically, but away from the “family” I had grown to love.

Clare Bridge is Brookdale’s individualized and person-centered program designed to meet the specific needs of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. We celebrated many daily moments of success at Hillsborough, including the success of our Hillsborough Walk Team’s efforts and fundraisers.

Brookdale Hillsborough WalkOver the past three years, the Hillsborough Walk Team picked up momentum and grew from raising $600 the first year, $1,800 the next year, to $6,000 with matching gifts in 2014.

Brookdale working TogetherWalk to End Alzheimer’s is an energizing event that we all look forward to all year long. It was a chilly day this year, but our hearts were warmed by the incredible crowds and inspirational speeches, as people proudly carried team banners. We were all so honored to be part of this impressive turnout supporting the Alzheimer’s Association. Words cannot express the warm feeling we all shared and carried home in our hearts from hearing the speeches, receiving the flowers, and for sharing such a special day with so many people.

After this year’s Walk, we asked residents, their families and each other for additional fundraising ideas. Boy, did we get some good ones! Our tireless team entertained guests, prepared and served great food, decorated the building and made these events a wonderful time for all. A silent auction was our biggest hit.

Brookdale Taking in the Autction Bids

The silent auction really was a family affair.  Residents, their families and Brookdale associates donated all types of items to be auctioned off.  From hand knitted afghans to new appliances and Waterford crystal, the spirit of giving filled the community.  It was lots of fun and, at times, seriously competitive.  Our assisted living resident Roz and a Clare Bridge resident’s family helped man the silent auction, challenging others to outbid each other, and thus encouraging families to donate more to this great cause.

Brookdale Families Enjoying Silent Auction

Between our Walk and our other fundraising events, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride in the Brookdale Hillsborough family. I, like so many others, have had family members who have had Alzheimer’s. I was touched by my grandmother’s experience and by the rough time my fun-loving uncle had with the disease.  When I play a tiny part in helping someone live at the highest level they can, I am so touched by the moment, and know I’m getting far more than I give.

Laura Hannigan and her Brookdale team of community associates, residents and resident families exceeded their wildest fundraising dreams for the 2015 Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

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