Sep 182014
 

Everyone has a reason to end Alzheimer’s, including four-year-old Lilly Myers of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Her great-grandmother or “Nanny,” Patty Lewis, 82, is one of the more than 5 million Americans living with the disease.blog42

To honor Nanny, Lilly is participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® — the world’s largest event to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease — in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania. But the preschooler isn’t just walking; she’s the top fundraiser for the 80-plus-person Nanny’s Team, made up of Lewis’s family and friends.

In 2013, the inaugural season for Nanny’s Team, the then-three-year-old Lilly raised $250. “She would get excited each time we logged in [to her online participant center] and the status bar denoting her level of money had been colored in more,” said Lilly’s mother, Amy Myers.

Lilly went door to door asking for donations. Her solicitation was simple: “My name is Lilly and I am doing a charity walk for Alzheimer’s, would you like to sponsor me?”

This year, Lilly has raised more than $2,900 and set a goal of receiving a donation from every state. As the funds came in from around the country, she colored in the corresponding states on a United States map. On Aug. 16, Lilly excitedly shaded in her last state, Vermont. She also listed her international donations — those from Canada, Germany and Australia — on the side of her map.blog4

“When asked what the money is for, Lilly will tell you that it’s for people who are sick with Alzheimer’s disease. She will tell you that sometimes Nanny forgets her name or that she already gave her hugs and kisses, but she knows that Nanny never forgets that she loves her,” Myers said. “As Nanny slips away from us, it’s heartwarming to know that Lilly is old enough that she’ll always have a memory of her time with Nanny.”

To supplement their fundraising efforts, Lilly and her cousins held a lemonade stand at festivals and farmers markets in their community. The children split more than $1,000 in proceeds, each applying a share to their individual fundraising total.

At $30,000 and counting, Nanny’s Team is the top fundraising team for the Carmichaels Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which took place on Sept. 6. All funds will help advance the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. Each year, with the help of more than 400,000 participants at events in over 600 communities nationwide, the Association moves closer to realizing its vision of a world without Alzheimer’s disease.

 

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease or to get involved with the cause, visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

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Sep 112014
 

MVShowTelevision talk show host and journalist Meredith Vieira launched “The Meredith Vieira Show” earlier this month. On the second episode of her nationally syndicated daytime show, Meredith committed to bringing awareness to Alzheimer’s disease and the cause by welcoming actor Seth Rogen and his wife Lauren Miller. They spoke about how the Alzheimer’s diagnosis of Lauren’s mom affected their lives and how they have created awareness for the cause through their fundraising event Hilarity for Charity. Other notable guests were Ken Dobson and his wife Nikki, who explained how the diagnosis of Ken’s early-onset Alzheimer’s at age 29 has affected their lives. In addition, there was a huge surprise at the end of the show. Watch the videos to hear the stories and to see the surprise ending of the episode that even Meredith didn’t know about!

 

Watch Lauren Miller and husband Seth Rogen talk about how Lauren’s mother’s Alzheimer’s affected their relationship in the video below.

Lauren Miller talks about how her wedding day three years ago was the last time she really connected with her mom:

Ken and Nikki Dodson of Adrian, Michigan talk about Ken’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis at age 29 in the video below.

Watch the generous surprise for Meredith, a donation made to the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of her late brother Steve:

 

Thank you to everyone who donated to the Alzheimer’s Association and also to those who participated in this important TV episode to raise awareness of the disease.

You can make a difference, too. Donate to the Alzheimer’s Association or raise funds by participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which is happening in more than 600 communities nationwide this fall.

Sep 052014
 

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. ~Henry Brooks Adams

We had known for a little more than a month before we decided to let others in on the burden our family had been carrying. On the last day of school before Thanksgiving break, my husband, at age forty-six, stood before his beloved high school students and told them our horrific secret.

We taught at the same high school, so I was able to be with him as his words first began to spill out during homeroom that morning. “I won’t be returning to school after Thanksgiving break, I am taking a medical leave,” he began. “I have an incurable brain disease and I am no longer able to continue in this job I love.” He never spoke the words “Alzheimer’s disease” that day, but he didn’t need to. The students knew what he was talking about.1864451education

It was painful to stand beside him and watch as my husband of more than twenty years spoke to each of his six social studies classes that day. I could see the chins start to quiver and the tears begin to fall. There was a stunned silence. During that first class, after he told the students, a young lady came up and asked him so meekly, “I know you are my teacher, but for today is it okay if I give you a hug?” And thus began the long line of embraces from students. Some clung to their favorite teacher and sobbed—some of the toughest guys gave some of the most emotional hugs that day.

Makeshift cards from students began to appear as the day went on, and alumni began to show up at his door.


Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias is now available for purchase, with all royalties going to the Alzheimer’s Association. Read all the inspiring stories.

One sweet girl said she wanted to help him and offered to wash his chalkboards. We were out of the classroom when she started and when we returned this is what was written on the chalkboard:

We love you! You are the best teacher EVER! We will miss you sooooooooo much and pray for your family. Love, Your Awesome Students

And so began our journey into the uncharted waters of living with Alzheimer’s at age forty-six. The day my sweet husband stood so bravely before his students to explain the onslaught of Alzheimer’s will always be a lasting memory to me of his strength, character, and resolve to do what was best for his students and family. I know he wanted to honor God with his honesty and integrity that day—and he did.

Author: Sandy Morris

From the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living With Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias by Amy Newmark and Angela Timashenka Geiger. Copyright 2014 by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Published by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Chicken Soup for the Soul is a registered trademark of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aug 152014
 

When my mother Naomi was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010 at the age of 70, my father, Jack, actually started cooking for the first time in his life. Through the painful realization that we were losing our beloved mom and wife, we found humor in the situation. My father had actually entered the kitchen! This post is an excerpt from The Lost Kitchen: An Alzheimer’s Memoir and Cookbook, which chronicles the story of how my family struggles to maintain balance—and laughter—in the face of a devastating diagnosis.Rony Nathan Photography

Mom doesn’t remember the wedding. She doesn’t remember dancing with my new daughter-in-law or being photographed with her grandson the groom, or even swing dancing with her husband. These are the moments that shine in my memory. I will remember for her.

In the weeks leading up to the wedding, it was kind of fun to tell Mom every time we met that my oldest was about to get married. I’d show her the invitation and we’d count the days. She’d ask me about his bride, and I’d tell her how they met through their youth group, and that they’ve been going out since high school. “Have I met her?” she’d ask.

The morning after the wedding, it was already lost. Getting dressed in our finest clothes, putting on makeup, walking into the beautifully decorated hall. The emotional meeting of bride and groom after a week’s separation, the way my son cried with love and anticipation as he performed the bedeken, the veiling ceremony, and watched his lovely bride walk towards him under the chuppah, the canopy. The fraylich joyous dancing, the hugs and kisses from friends and family. All gone. As if it didn’t happen.

If I’ve learned anything about Alzheimer’s, it’s that though Mom’s past might be lost, and her future is, well, non-existent, her present is immediate. Every moment that she spent at the wedding was fully experienced. One of the absolute highlights in an evening of amazing experiences was when we presented Mom with a birthday cake for her 73rd birthday. The band came over and played “Happy Birthday,” then seamlessly switched to swing music. Daddy grabbed Mom’s hands and that was it, they were dancing as they love to do, twisting and twirling together in fluid motion. The whole hall was clapping and watching, and nothing else existed at that moment.

That’s one of the lessons I’ve been trying to learn from her: live the now fully. How do I feel? Exuberant! My son’s wedding was filled with blessings. And I feel sad. We’ve accepted the terms of this disease. We’ve taken on her care knowing what’s to come. It doesn’t make it easier to watch her deterioration, but it does mean that we are prepared to handle what comes next. We’ve already steeled ourselves emotionally to the changes she’ll continue going through. Holding conversations with her is getting particularly difficult. We have to supply the words that she can’t recall, and steer her to the conversation’s conclusion. So many people said hello to her at the wedding. She kept asking me who they were, how I knew them, what they were doing there. The trick is to stay patient and keep smiling. Being with Mom does not have to be sad; Mom is happy—even with Alzheimer’s.

I had several conversations this weekend that will stay with me for a long while. My cousin who spoke about the death of his father, my beloved uncle: “While you’re going through it, you don’t think about what you’re doing. You just do it. And you don’t think of yourself with pity. Afterwards, you look at your hands and you ask yourself, ‘Did I really bathe and feed my father? Did I really take care of him in such an intimate way?’”

My sister-in-law who has a degree in gerontology: “There are so many ways you can approach Alzheimer’s. Your mom is so full of life. She is a pleasure to be with, and that’s what you have to focus on.” She didn’t need to mention that her mother, my adored mother-in-law, is also having trouble remembering.

One of the hardest conversations was with my brother: “I don’t know when I’m coming back,” he said. “Mom’s sentences and thoughts are becoming disconnected. At this rate, she might not recognize or remember me.” My brother lives in California. I live in Israel. There’s a lot of geographical distance between us. “I’m sorry I’m not here to help you more.”

My brother does help. He calls daily to speak with Mom. He even made her a pictorial family tree for her to identify her kids and grandkids. I told him it wasn’t worth being sorry, that regrets are the past, and the past is over. But I am sorry. I’m sorry he’ll miss the joy of being with Mom while she is still so present. Nothing can replace that as she slips into forgetfulness.

Challah Recipe

In preparation for the family Shabbat after the wedding, I took the time to bake challah, traditional bread eaten on Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. My signature challah is a combination of white dough and whole wheat dough arranged in a circular baking pan with white and black sesame seeds sprinkled on top. I also like to braid challah with four-strands. When you make challah every week, you start to sense how the dough will turn out. If you are trying challah for the first time, there are a few tricks you can employ to make sure it turns out well.Challah3

  1. Adding a little oil to your hands allows you to knead the dough without it sticking.
  2. If it is too sticky, add more flour.
  3. Whole wheat flour needs more water than white flour to become dough. Don’t be shy about adding more than the recipe calls for, but add it in small amounts.
  4. Let the dough rise in a warm place like the top of the refrigerator.
  5. If the dough hasn’t risen much after two hours, kneed it, shape it, and when you’re ready to bake it, bake at a low temp (200°) for about 10 minutes before you turn up the oven to 350°.

 

Ingredients:

For the two-toned white and brown challah effect, you need to make this recipe twice, once with white flour and once with whole wheat flour.

8 cups white or whole wheat flour

1 cup sugar (can use brown sugar)

1 tablespoon  yeast

1 tablespoon salt

1½ to 2 cups warm water

½ cup vegetable oil

1 egg for the dough

1 egg for brushing on top

Sesame seeds

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Make a large indentation in the mixture. Pour warm water, oil and egg into bowl. Using your hands, mix until you form a small ball of dough. Lift dough out of the bowl and knead on a floured surface until the dough becomes uniform and smooth. Place dough back in the bowl and coat with a thin layer of oil. Cover bowl and let rise in a warm location for two hours until dough expands in size. After two hours, knead dough until all air bubbles are gone. Divide and shape dough into braided or rounded challahs. Place on a baking sheet (covered with parchment paper ) and let rise at least another hour in a warm location. Just before baking, brush top of challah with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until bread becomes golden brown.

 

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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Jun 302014
 

Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end. ~Author Unknown

I stopped at the desk to sign in and explained to the receptionist I was a reporter from the local newspaper and was doing a story on a gentleman who lived there, a World War II veteran. As I made my way down the corridor to Mr. Walter’s room, I heard the receptionist behind me.

“Mrs. Dodson, you know Mr. Walter is practically deaf and suffers from dementia, don’t you?”18490465_postcards

“No ma’am, I didn’t.”

His daughter, who I’d spoken with days before, failed to mention his condition, but because I was already there I decided to go ahead with the interview.

As I passed room after room, each one looked the same: a single bed, a dark wooden nightstand, and a shiny brass lamp. I smiled at the elders sitting along the wall in their wheelchairs.

“Mr. Walter?” I read his name on the plaque outside his door, but I would have never recognized him by the picture his daughter had e-mailed the day before. A soldier dressed in army fatigues, tall and thin, but with broad shoulders and an even broader smile. It looked as if the photograph had captured him in the middle of a hilarious joke.

He looked up from a sunken blue chair, a blanket covering his lap. I could tell he didn’t understand what I’d said. I sat down on the corner of his bed and introduced myself, stretching my hand out to his while he slowly shook it.

“Aw, you have soft skin!” he said hoarsely.

Luckily, he knew I was a reporter and that I’d come to interview him for a story on local veterans. We spoke for a few minutes, and although communicating was difficult because he was hard of hearing, he had a quick wit and made me feel at ease.

“Can you tell me a little about where you served in the army?” I asked.

The interview began like many others, I asked questions and he answered them. I’d learned over the years as a reporter to say as little as possible, allowing the person to do most of the talking. And Mr. Walter did.

He shared with me that he was a medic in World War II and during battles their battalion put crosses on their helmets signifying their position. Under the Geneva Convention, enemies weren’t allowed to bomb his area.

“But it didn’t always happen that way,” Mr. Walter said.

I sat quietly, writing and listening, but in the middle of one of his recollections of the Battle of Normandy he blurted out, “And I drove so quick to JCPenney I nearly ran over a pedestrian!”

And so it went for thirty more minutes. Talks of soldiers and battle wounds mixed with Yankees baseball and his daughter’s first communion.

Soon I put my notebook down and resorted to spending the rest of the visit talking with my new friend. I’d have to tell my editor we couldn’t use the interview. The longer we’d spoken, the more farfetched his stories had become.

“I took out an army of men, over one hundred of ’em with my own bare hands!” he said, laughing.

His face lit up as he spoke. It was clear he would fade in and out of conversations. I watched him closely and you could almost see it. He would answer one question precisely and to the point and moments later struggle to find the easiest of words. A nurse walked in during our conversation and she lovingly moved the blanket that lay in his lap to cover his legs. He thanked her by name but minutes later had forgotten she’d come at all.

Before leaving, I thanked him for talking with me, and made my way to the hall. Standing at his doorway, I wished we’d met years earlier.

“Did you see my postcard?” he asked.

“No, I didn’t; show it to me,” I said as I walked over to the framed card beside his bed.

As I picked it up, he told me it was from a woman named Emma.

“She was the most beautiful lady you’d ever laid eyes on. She sent me that postcard on her wedding day,” he chuckled. “She was all dressed up in a white wedding gown, about to say ‘I do’ and when the church doors opened for her to walk down the aisle to meet her groom, she slammed them shut! She ran back home, and sent me that card. She was my best friend growing up. She told me she’d be waiting ’til I got home from the army and we’d get married.”

It was another of his stories. I was sure the postcard was significant in some way, but that was pretty farfetched.

As I pulled out of the nursing home, I called Mr. Walter’s daughter from my car. I told her I’d visited her father and as much as I’d enjoyed talking with him, I couldn’t publish the piece because of his condition.


Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias is now available for purchase, with all royalties going to the Alzheimer’s Association. Read all the inspiring stories.

She was kind and not surprised. She said her father’s dementia had worsened over the last few months. But before we hung up, I told her what her dad said about defeating an army of German soldiers with his bare hands.

“That sounds just like him,” she laughed.

I also went on to tell her about a postcard he’d shown me, and the story he’d shared of the woman, his childhood friend who’d stopped her wedding with minutes to spare and professed her love for him.

There was a pause on the other end of the phone. “Hello?”

“That one is true,” she said, quietly.

She told me of the sixty-two-year marriage between her father and mother and how her mother waited for the soldier she’d always loved to return home from war.

“They had never even been on a first date,” Mr. Walter’s daughter said.

A week later I drove back to the nursing home and visited Mr. Walter again. He told me about Emma in great detail, never once trailing off as I’d witnessed days before. He recounted what Emma had worn the day he’d seen her upon his return, the address of their first home, their family pet, and Emma’s favorite flowers he’d planted along the front porch stoop.

We published his story on the front page of the newspaper a week later. I hand delivered a copy to him.

“Why do you think you remembered so much about Emma, but so little about the war?” I asked.

He sighed, thinking for a moment, then told me, “World War II was a big part of my life, but Emma was the best part.”

 

Author: Amanda Dodson

From the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living With Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias by Amy Newmark and Angela Timashenka Geiger. Copyright 2014 by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Published by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Chicken Soup for the Soul is a registered trademark of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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Jun 212014
 

On The Longest Day, I will be fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association doing something I love, baton twirling. I have worked hard to get the word out by making announcements at schools, handing out flyers and posting advertisements in my local newspaper, encouraging boys and girls age 6 and older to participate. Alzheimer’s disease is a rapidly-growing epidemic, and I think that kids need to understand what Alzheimer’s really is.Sophia_River_Bandits (1)

Nearly 11 years ago, my great-grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Years ago, my great-grandma burned herself in a cooking fire, and that was when my family decided to move her closer to home where she would have her medication supervised and meals made for her every day. Over the course of 11 years, we have slowly seen her go from knowing exactly who we are to having no idea whatsoever. If I tell her who I am, it seems to register for a few seconds, but then she forgets again.

Like many families living with Alzheimer’s, we have to look at the lighthearted side of things. My great-grandma will still laugh and make jokes. More recently, I reminded her that I was her great-granddaughter. She responded by saying “Well, aren’t you lucky.” She sure hasn’t lost her sense of humor.

Good moments come with the bad. She asks the same questions over and over again. Since I was about 10, she has been asking me the same questions, like if I was dating yet, or when I’m going to have kids. I listen and I spend time with her even when I can’t answer those questions for her.  I twirl baton for her and the other residents at nursing home and my younger sister plays piano. We will eat a meal with her and give her attention, and it makes us happy to see that she enjoys communicating with us, even if it’s over a simple meal. I like to think that when we leave the nursing home and say goodbye by name that maybe, just maybe she remembers us. She probably doesn’t, but that I love that she says “I love you” back.

A few years back, we wrapped up an ottoman as a gift for her with a big bow, but she never took it off. Every day she looked at that ottoman with the bow still on, it was like she was getting a brand new gift. It was funny and sweet, just like her. Every day with her is still a gift.

About the Author: Sophia Aguirre has worked closely with the East Central Iowa chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. She is Miss River City’s Outstanding Teen 2014 and serves as a hostess at chapter events in crown and sash, speaking about young advocacy and how she has been affected by Alzheimer’s disease. She will be competing for the title of Miss Iowa’s Outstanding Teen 2014 with the help of my platform, “Remember Me: Raising Awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease.” Visit her page, Twirl to End Alzheimer’s

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Alzheimer’s, Nana and Me

 

 

 

Jun 212014
 

My family and I have set out for a great day of scavenger hunting, in the form of letterboxing, as our way of participating in The Longest Day, a summer solstice event where people around the world do activities  they love as a way to raise awareness and funds for the Alzheimer’s Association. I was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s and chorea, a movement disorder, around the age of 40. I also have two siblings and parents who have or had Alzheimer’s. And this year, we found out that my daughter, who is only 21, shows the very early stages of this devastating disease.

letterboxingThe past several years have been really tough on me physically and mentally. With time and emotional healing, determination has become my focus to help change the horrible process I am going through. I want my story to be heard to help spread awareness, push for more research and, the most importantly, for people to realize that anyone, regardless of age, can have this disease.

Letterboxing

Letterboxing, which started in England in 1854, has been a hobby and passion of mine for the last five years. Letterboxing is an exchange of your own handcrafted rubber stamp image with the one you find, recorded into your own logbook and into the guest log of the one you find. I have found more than 400 letterboxes all along the East Coast.

At sunrise, my family and I set out in our cars to find the first letterbox of the day. We reached the beginning of a trail located in a nearby park. The clues led us down a few different paths until we found a perfectly hidden box, tucked into a tree trunk. Letterboxing requires a lot of stealth because you cannot let “Muggles” (people that do not letterbox) find what you seek. Unfortunately, some will take the precious stamp or just toss it away. But once we find a box, we all log in and start out again to find our next box.

We drove a bit to a beautiful library in a city close to us. It has underground tunnels, as well as old and unique elevators that take a person up and down to many hidden stacks. We parked and headed in. We went left, right, up, down until we finally came to a very old book that the clues led us to. We opened the book and inside was one of the most amazing hand-carved stamps I have ever found. Pages within had been carved out to hide this precious stamp and logbook. We again log in, exchange stamps and re-hide this book to its place on the shelf. Then off we go to our next one.

Lake Ontario

After a wonderful day of letterboxing, we plan to finish our day in a place that I have been drawn to since I was a little girl — the bluffs. It’s a beautiful spot on the shores of Lake Ontario. The calming water still takes my mind away from all the daily frustrations and my own declining condition caused by this disease.

In the beginning, I was told I was forgetting things due to stress from my job as a corrections officer. My husband then started noticing I couldn’t remember how to do everyday tasks like laundry. From there, I began forgetting how to drive home and how to leave a store and slowly began losing motion on my left side while a noticeable tremor developed. Several months went by, which turned into years, of more referrals to different neurologists, unending testing, blood work, misdiagnoses, and emotional and physical stress.
SeanandMom4
Finally, I was told I could never work or drive again. More recently, I now require 24-hour care in my home. My entire independence was taken away from me, which led to a deep depression.

The different degrees of pain I went through is unacceptable. There needs to be a proper and easier process to help those who are suffering. All of my own frustration and devastation have become my passion to fight back. I hope the disbelief of some doctors and the feelings of helplessness I felt don’t happen to anyone else. I want everyone in the world to know about this devastating condition and advocate for more funding to find a cure.

These are only a few reasons that I am involved with The Longest Day.

About the Author: Melanie Wagner, 44, is participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day®. Melanie lives in Webster, N.Y. Married to husband Sean and mother to Gage and Mercedes, she was previously working as a corrections officer at her time of diagnosis. Click here to follow Melanie and her team during this event.

Jun 202014
 

Today, just after the sunrise, a group of motorcycle riders met at a truck stop in West Monroe, La., to ride our Harley Davidson bikes down to New Roads, La., a historic district just outside of Baton Rouge, about three and a half hours away. Across the bridge in Monroe, a group of ladies gathered to play bridge from morning to night. You might be wondering what these two seemingly unrelated events have to do with each other.DSC_0724

It all started with an unexpected phone call I received two months ago from Martha Young. She is from the Bridge Club in Monroe, La., and she was calling me because I’m the director of the Bleu Bayou Harley Owners Group, which is our local chapter of Harley Davidson motorcycle enthusiasts. Now, there’s a bridge that connects the town of Monroe to West Monroe, where I live, so I thought Martha was saying that she belonged to another motorcycle club in Monroe. Turns out, she is with the Monroe Duplicate Bridge Club, which is a group of women and men who actually play bridge.

I’m thinking, why is this lady from the bridge club calling me? Martha said the ladies in her bridge club wanted to challenge the members of my motorcycle club to participate in The Longest Day. Now, before I got this call, I had never heard of The Longest Day and didn’t even know about the Alzheimer’s Association. But I felt like this call happened for a reason.

You see, my mother had multi-infarct dementia, which is dementia brought on by a series of mini-strokes. She suffered from this condition for 11 years before she died from complications of the disease in 2008.

So when Martha called to ask us to participate in The Longest Day to help raise awareness and money for the Alzheimer’s Association, it wasn’t hard for me to say yes.

We carefully mapped out the route, avoiding the interstate highways and taking the back roads so that we could make a successful ride for a good cause. And we did just that! The ride down here today, although hot with temperatures approaching the 90s, was very nice. We had the bayous on one side of us and the cedar and cypress trees with Spanish moss hanging from them on the other side. This is what we in the South like to call true country living, with the good smells of the trees and grass with the occasional bad smells of the chicken houses.DSC_0790

My wife, Teresa, and I are both wearing our purple Alzheimer’s Association T-shirts today that the bridge ladies gave us. I hope their all-day bridge marathon is just as enjoyable as this charity ride has been for us. Martha is already talking about getting many more groups of people involved from the Twin Cities in The Longest Day next year.

Who knows? Maybe if we make this event big enough in the years to come, West Monroe will be known for being more than the home of Willie Robertson and his A&E reality TV show “Duck Dynasty”!


About the Author: Chuck Adams, 54, is the owner of Tempco Insulation Inc., a commercial and residential insulation company in West Monroe, La.  He is participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day® for the first time.

 

Jun 202014
 

Today, my three siblings, several friends and I are packed inside my small apartment in New York
to make Korean lucky pouches, called “jumoni,” from sunrise to sunset as our way of participating in The Longest Day, an event to honor those facing Alzheimer’s. These small, colorful pouches made out of cloth and drawn closed at the top with a braided string were traditionally filled with money or special treats and given to small children by elders. We hope to make 100 of these pouches, each of whregina pouchich will be one-of-a-kind, from fabric and thread donated by my company, as well as from unwanted clothes.

These lucky pouches hold special meaning for me because my grandmother taught me how to make them w
hen she raised me in Korea. My grandmother is everything to me – my parent, my best friend and my biggest inspiration. I was born in New York but was dropped off at the age of 1 to be raised by my grandmother in Korea. Shortly after having me, my mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer and my father was her primary caregiver while also working full-time so they needed my grandmother to take care of me so that they could focus on my mother’s illness. (My mother passed away two years later.) When I met my grandmother for the first time at the Korean airport, I immediately nestled in her arms as if I already knew her and felt an immediate connectio
n with her.lucky pouch personal

It was extremely hard to leave my grandmother alone when I returned to the United States in 2005. Then three years ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and I was devastated by the news. It shook me to the core, and I had a very difficult time accepting her condition. It was even difficult for me to talk about her with my family and friends. I often cried when I thought of her randomly—walking down the street, in the shower, when I was cleaning. However, I realized that I wanted to do something instead of just letting my emotions get me down.

The Longest Day is not just about people with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s about the courage of the families who are facing this devastating disease together and about the selfless caregivers, like my aunt in Korea who is taking care of my grandmother, who provide the abundant love and support to those afflicted. I felt very bitter and guilty about my grandmother going through this difficult disease and am grateful every day that someone is there to help take care of her.

So today is for my grandmother. I have created an assembly line and am teaching my siblings and friends how to make these beautiful lucky pouches. Since not everyone knows how to use a sewing machine, we are allowing people to do the parts that they’re comfortable with, whether it’s cutting the fabric or braiding the thread to make the cords for the drawstrings.

By the end of today, we hope to make 100 pieces of these beautiful pouches and give them to those who are sponsoring us as a thank-you gift. With the leftover pouches, we hope to sell them to raise additional money for the Alzheimer’s Association. I’m sure my grandmother would love our labor of love, and she will be in our thoughts every minute of today.

About the Author: Regina Chung, 29, is a jewelry designer who lives in New York, N.Y. She is participating in The Longest Day®, a sunrise to sunset event to honor the strength, passion and endurance of those facing Alzheimer’s with a day of activity. Follow her team, The Lucky Pouch

Jun 202014
 

Playing video games for 16 hours is normal for a teenager on summer vacation, but if a bunch of adults were doing it, they would be said to be wasting their day. Not when those adults are defending castles from dragons or hunting zombies to participate in The Longest Day. For 16 hours today, a group of gamers — my fellow coworkers at Geektriumvirate.com, my girlfriend and I — are playing video games to honor those with Alzheimer’s.vg1

I love playing video games. But more than that, I love my grandmother, who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s.

When I first saw the idea for The Longest Day in one of the Alzheimer’s Association emails, I knew immediately video games would be a great media to get friends and family involved. Video games now are rich with online gameplay and cooperative interaction that, for some of my friends, is the only way we are able to share each other’s time. I wanted to give my friends the sense of achievement you get from actually taking part in a charitable endeavor. But more importantly, I wanted to show my family how much I care about what my grandmother is going through.

vg2Today, we are playing a variety of games — Borderlands 2, World of Warcraft, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag — all while sharing the experience with friends via Google Hangout and live streaming the event on our YouTube channel. The morning hours are starting great as teammates Andrew and Amanda are playing World of Warcraft with their guild. Their online guild consists of 250 members from all over the world. Just knowing this event is involving so many people makes me appreciate why I set out to create this event.

Many hours already into The Longest Day, and my thumbs are sore but my spirits are up. Friends and family have been checking in on us via Google Hangout to say hi and watch us. Tonight, we will cap off this important day by visiting the opening party for The Art of Video Games exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art.

Today has been truly fulfilling as we used the leisurely fun of video games to help an important and serious cause.  I don’t want anyone else to endure what my grandmother endured with this disease. My hope is, there will be an end to Alzheimer’s.

About the Author: When Nathan Dean, 33, isn’t playing video games, he works as a logistics analyst for a marketing agency and is cofounder of the blog GeekTriumvirate.com in Grand Rapids, Mich. This is his first year participating in Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day®Click here to follow Nathan and his team during the event.

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