Jun 212015
 

“There is hope in the future and beauty in the moment.”

The Longest Day has afforded us the promise of this statement.

When my incredible husband Steve was diagnosed nearly four years ago with younger-onset (also known as early-onset) Alzheimer’s, we knew we needed guidance. The Alzheimer’s Association has provided us with that and more.

The Longest Day gave us an opportunity to take an active role. It also provided us with a chance to have friends and family gather and rally around Steve to let him know how loved and supported he is. We honor him by hosting a day filled with some of his favorite activities, and our grandchildren are empowered as they use their small but poignant voices to honor their Gramps and raise awareness. They have even coined the phrase “When life gives you JUDYTEAMAlzheimer’s…make lemonade!” Selling lemonade is only one of today’s activities.

lemonadeWe have run, walked, biked, swam, played horseshoes and danced Zumba. We have spiffed up the exterior of our old beach house, done puzzles and sang. We have shared old memories and created new ones. We have laughed and cried. We have honored those living with Alzheimer’s and memorialized those whom we have loved and lost. This is our day to celebrate life with Steve, and assure ourselves of what can’t be taken from us with this disease—love!SteveTLD

As the sun sets, a soft glow of purple washes across the faces of the nearly 50 people in our beach circle. We take time to reflect on what we have accomplished, and we ceremoniously offer an intention of hope and honor. Each of us ignites our individual light in the sand and then we join them together. As each is lit, we watch the dim light of a single candle grow from a faint glow to a radiant brightness. It’s then that we realize that there is hope in the future glowand beauty in this very moment.

It’s now time for contemplation of what has been achieved today, The Longest Day.

We have raised substantial funds for the Alzheimer’s Association, which has not only been an incredible wealth of resources for us on this journey, but also the force behind making global strides in research, care and education.

We have exhausted our muscles from our various activities. Our faces are sore from the shared smiles. Our arms and shoulders carry the weight of both giving and receiving numerous “strength-giving” hugs.

Our lungs are contented by being filled with fresh sea air. Our hearts are warmed and overflowing with the love and support of our family, friends and neighbors. As a group, we have turned Wells Beach purple to raise awareness. We have fought hard for future generations to realize a time when Alzheimer’s disease is just a memory. We have witnessed the true power of a community effort.endalz15 (1)

Thank you to all who are fighting this good fight! And to those who will face another “longest day” tomorrow…we do this for you.

About the Author: Judy Johanson is care partner for her husband, Steve, who was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s at age 59. Together with her family and friends, Judy is participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day®, a sunrise-to-sunset event on June 21, 2015, to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. 

 

Jun 212015
 

June 21 is my mom’s 80th birthday, but she doesn’t know that. She doesn’t know what day it is anymore. She doesn’t even know what a birthday is. My mom has late-stage Alzheimer’s.

Today, on her birthday, I am climbing a mountain in her honor by participating in the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual event The Longest Day. Along with 10 friends, I’m climbing Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental U.S., to raise money so that the Association can continue to provide support for people living with this disease. The climb will take 16-17 hours to complete and is certainly the longest hike I have ever undertaken. Every step is for Mom.JOHNBTLD

We started this hike in the darkness at 3 a.m. and we are still on our way to the top. As I take each step up this incredible 14,500-foot mountain, I am remembering all of the steps it took to get to this moment: all the training hikes and gym workouts, all the fundraising, and all of the long, seemingly impossible days of my mother’s disease.  All along the way, The Alzheimer’s Association was an invaluable resource for advice, referrals and strategies for handling my mom’s illness and decline.
JOHNTLDMy mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was devastating news for the whole family, but especially devastating for her. She always loved learning, reading and discussing current events. The first in her family to go to a four-year college, she worked for Planned Parenthood and as a lobbyist for the Oregon Legislature. The last job she held was as an editor for a bilingual newspaper. At the same time, she was studying to become an ESL teacher.

johnmomThen she started forgetting things; appointments, bills, daily tasks. She lost her purse over and over again. She couldn’t read books anymore, since by the time she would get to the end, she had already forgotten the beginning.

She ended up losing her job due to her frequent mistakes. She lost friends because she would forget to call. She forgot to pay her taxes and her rent. She was ashamed of her symptoms, and became really good at hiding them by writing everything down in a notebook and carrying it with her everywhere. But then she started losing the notebook, too.

Mom forgot the day, the month and the year. She even started imagining she was living in the past. Eventually she forgot her own name and her family, including me.johnfriends

Every step of the way, The Alzheimer’s Association was there with the advice and resources I needed. Now I am seeking to give back so that others facing this awful disease can be supported. I’m climbing because it’s my mom’s birthday, and because I can’t celebrate with her anymore. Participating in The Longest Day seems a fitting tribute to her 80 years of life.  My team and I have raised over $15,000 and know that it will help a lot of people dealing with this disease.JohnGroupTLD

It feels empowering to be able to give back and to honor my mom in this way on her birthday, The Longest Day.

About the Author: John Binninger and his friends that make up The Whitney Summiters are participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day®. Click here to visit John’s team page.

Jun 212015
 

Good morning! Today is an important and exciting day in the making. This morning, members of the San Diego Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) chapter are joining members of the San Diego Bridge Academy and Redwood Bridge Club in the fight against Alzheimer’s.  The American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) leads the fundraising to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association on The Longest Day, along with raffles, a fine art silent auction and an appearance by Chopper the Biker Dog!

Forget what you may think about people who ride motorcycles or people who play bridge. Not only are many of the stereotypes untrue, but Harley riders are just as active in their communities and willing to step up and make their voices heard as the bridge players are. Together this diverse group of backgrounds will ride across the 30+ bridges of San Diego and play bridge from sunrise to sunset.

Alzheimer’s affects more than 60,000 people in the San Diego area, and with the average age of an ACBL bridge player being 69, those in our community are susceptible. We are speaking with local television stations first, and after that, we will be making a stop at the local Harley dealership to bring together a unique group of Harley riders and bridges players so that our voices can be heard together.trishwhite

I myself have a personal connection to Alzheimer’s disease. When I was diagnosed with a plaque on my brain in 2010, I knew I had to stand up. I spent very little time feeling sorry for myself, and told myself that I couldn’t give up. I could lose my limbs and live without them, but my brain? Not my brain. My brain is my best friend.

Bridge is known as “aerobics for the mind.” I also have focused on mentally-stimulating games such as Scrabble and crossword puzzles. I stay social in order to keep myself sharp. I do whatever I can, as I always have in life, because sitting down solves nothing. It’s time to stand up!

There was a day recently when I wasn’t feeling up to going to my evening bridge game, but something inside me told me to go anyway. I ended up meeting a woman whose husband was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. They have only been married for five years. It was so important for her to see the information available and have someone to talk to and discuss caregiver issues with. I hope that today’s event will create progressive thinking in the world of bridge. Alzheimer’s creates a devastation of families; everyone in the family unit “gets” Alzheimer’s. Our voices are more powerful together, and we know we will be heard today.

I thank Robin Parker of the San Diego H.O.G. chapter who helped Harley riders set a goal of $1,600 on top of the bridge clubs’ goal of $2,500. I thank Robert Hartman, CEO of the ACBL.  I thank David Walters, the best bridge teacher imaginable, for lecturing today – half of the proceeds of his speech will go towards the cause. I thank Stuart Showalter, president of the Redwood Bridge club. And I thank all of the people who have made a difference in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.

About the Author: Trish White is an avid bridge player participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day®. 

 

 

Jun 022015
 

My name is Grace, and I am 15 years old. For nearly 10 years of my life, my mother was a caregiver for her two aging parents. My grandmother was broken physically, but my grandfather Jim slowly deteriorated due to Alzheimer’s disease, passing in February of 2014. Watching my grandfather lose his identity was one of the hardest situations my family has ever had to cope with. I live with images of how this incurable disease changed him; dealing with the grief of his passing was not easy.grace2

Ever since my grandfather’s death, I have wanted to do something to raise awareness and funds to combat Alzheimer’s. My opportunity came this year in my English class.

For my 10th grade service project, I had to choose a charity or foundation to volunteer for. Naturally I chose the Alzheimer’s Association. I raised $200 and made phone calls to people who had started their Longest Day teams to encourage them in their activities. After that, I took the next step. I set up my own team for The Longest Day, where I committed to use my passion, swimming, as a tribute to my grandfather and all people who have lost their life to Alzheimer’s. On The Longest Day, I will swim 16 miles to “Swim for Jim” as a symbolic tribute to those caregivers who work from sunrise to sunset to care for their loved ones.

People recognized my passion right away and so many were excited to donate generously to the cause. I have nearly reached the three thousand dollar-mark on my Longest Day Web page, and I can’t thank my donors enough for their tremendous support!grace3

This opportunity to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s is much more than a school project. It’s personal. It is a fight for those who have their memories and identity stolen from them. It is a call for others to support the caregivers, researchers and those who have fought this battle. It is a commitment to remember for people who no longer can. It is also a pledge to honor lost loved ones so their agonizing fight will not be in vain.

I hope you will join me on The Longest Day. I can wholeheartedly say that this experience became part of the healing process for me and my whole family. We now have a sense of closure. The donations given and awareness raised will be instrumental in decreasing the number of people who live the longest day every day. Cherish your memories – support the fight to end Alzheimer’s.grace1

About the Author: Grace Arredondo is from Charleston, South Carolina. She swims for her high school swimming team, the Shadowmoss Sharks summer league team and The City of Charleston’s Southern Marlins Racing Team. She has chosen to use her competitive swimming skills to honor her grandfather, Jim Whaley, by participating in The Longest Day. You can visit her team page here.

 

 

Alz.org main site  |  Research  |  Advocacy  |  Care and support  |  Message boards  |  Disclaimer  |  Donate  |  Contact us  |  Sign up for e-news
© 2011 Alzheimer's Association | Blog Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha