Jul 122017
 

Progressive and eventually debilitating, Alzheimer’s disease is devastating. Just ask anyone who knows or loves someone with the disease. Sadly, that includes many of us.

Dom Moloney lost his grandfather, Arthur, to the disease. His wife lost her great aunt Milly, who was like a mother to her when she was younger.

Dom is from the United Kingdom and works at PRA Health Sciences, where he is getting ready to be part of a cycling event with more than 100 of his colleagues from 15 different countries.  PRA Cares: Vienna to Prague will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association, and from July 12-16, the team will travel approximately 100 kilometers (70 miles) per day. 

We spoke to Dom about the event and his personal connection to Alzheimer’s.

Can you tell us about the people you have lost to Alzheimer’s?

My grandfather, Arthur, died of vascular dementia and my wife’s great aunt Milly died of Alzheimer’s a couple of years ago. Arthur had a strong influence on me from a young age. He was a very spiritual man and had a brilliant sense of humor. He was there at many of the important moments in my life, including being my sponsor at confirmation. I have many happy memories of playing as a child at his house; holidaying together; and, after his wife died, helping him in his garden. My favorite memory was the first time he met my then girlfriend (now wife) but without looking up, assumed it was my sister. His first greeting to her was, “Hello O pregnant one…” Obviously everyone fell about laughing whilst my very slim girlfriend looked around for my very pregnant sister!

Milly looked after my wife and taught her many life skills. Milly was very mischievous and always had a cheeky glint in her eye. She was always a little batty and often played for attention by pretending to forget things. This made it all the harder when Alzheimer’s disease set in, as we never knew when she was just playing around and when she really couldn’t remember where the bathroom was in her one-bedroom flat!

What do you think is the most difficult aspect of the disease?

There are many things that make Alzheimer’s difficult.  The fact that someone you love not only doesn’t recognize you but sometimes thinks you’re coming to do them harm, or mistakes you for someone they used to love…it’s hard. One time, my grandfather saw my mother and her brother and asked where Margaret was. (Margaret was his first wife who had died a decade or more earlier.) When they broke it gently to him, he was distraught. It was only after several minutes they realized he meant my mother and just got the name wrong and hadn’t recognized her.

Physically, Alzheimer’s destroys people. Milly was never a small woman and must have weighed 15 or 16 stone when she first went to the hospital. By the end, she had literally shriveled to a 5-stone shell with paper-thin skin covering her bones. She ‘drank’ water from a toothbrush as she was too weak to use a cup.

What helped you and your family during this difficult time?

We are very fortunate to have two sons of our own who were quite young at the time Milly was in hospital. They would often come to visit with us, and the people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia in the hospital would all coo over these beautiful children.  Seeing the light that a little bit of youth brought to their day – or just someone to talk to – really cheered them up, which in turn helped us. Ultimately, we relied on each other as a family to get through the tough times.

What advice would you give someone who might first be learning that a loved one has been diagnosed with the disease?

Be patient and loving. Alzheimer’s confuses the person living with it and frustrates them enormously. Simply sitting with them and holding their hand is often enough for them. And use the periods of clarity – even when quite far gone, you may get short bursts of clarity where you’re recognized or a shared memory resurfaces. Grab these times and enjoy the moment. Be kind, be loving and cherish every moment. And when at last they pass on, rejoice that they are no longer in distress.

 Are you hopeful that we will find a cure?

Alzheimer’s is a horrific disease and I have to believe we will one day find a cure. I never wish to see anyone suffer as Milly did – or her family and friends.

Knowing your personal connection to the disease and the fact that PRA Cares: Vienna to Prague will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association, how does this cycle event take on added significance for you?

Whilst I always loved cycling as a child, I’d not done it for 25 years until last year when my sister wanted to do a crazy challenge raising money for multiple sclerosis (MS) charities. We cycled up the Col du Galibier (a French Alp on the Tour de France route), raising £2500 (more than $3200) in the process.  I loved being on the bike, out in nature and raising money for a good cause, so when the opportunity came up to cycle with PRA to raise money for Alzheimer’s, a cause that is so close to my heart, I had to do it.

Last year, when the going got tough, I remembered those people I know battling MS. This year, I’ll remember Arthur and Milly; their memory will get me up the steep hills and through the last 10 km!

 

Jun 212017
 

The Longest Day is finally here and my excitement is at fever pitch! All of the planning and hard work has come together, and I know it will be another fun and successful event. My team is certainly ready to make the most of this special day.

Why do I fight Alzheimer’s on The Longest Day, year after year? It is because my wonderful husband Warren is courageously living with Alzheimer’s.

This is my fourth year as team captain and I’m proud to say that each year has gotten better than the year before. In my “rookie” year, my team raised $12,000, and in my second year of participation, I added an auction and raffle to my event and raised $34,000. Last year was a big year for my team, equaling a whopping $43,000 in donations!

I am proud and truly astonished by all my team has accomplished, and today is the day to celebrate. We all know that in order to find a cure and support families facing this disease, we need more funding, so every dollar we raise is a step closer. Knowing we are a part of that drives us even more!

I feel blessed to be part of the St. Louis Bridge Center, surrounded by hundreds of people that support me and care about this cause. Besides playing bridge all day and evening, we will have a silent auction and multiple raffles. There will also be t-shirts available for sale that will help all of us “go purple!” We have raised more than $25,000 so far and look forward to adding much more throughout the day today.

There are a lot of longest days in the life of a caregiver; there are days when I am exhausted and wonder how I’m going to get through this experience. But then I remember how much Warren needs me. Thankfully our family, friends and our support group are a major part of helping me cope. They help make the longest days seem a little less long – and days like today a lot more fun!

Participating in The Longest Day is my way of saying “I love you, Warren” while helping the millions of others that are living and struggling with this disease. I wish the best of luck to everyone celebrating today, no matter how you are participating. Have fun, and remember: the fight must go on!

 

About the Author: Linda Powers and her family and friends are participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day®. Linda is captain of the St. Louis Bridge Center team and plays as a member of the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL). Click here to visit Linda’s team page.

Jun 202017
 

Today we have honored the life of my aunt Jeanine Brown.

This incredible woman was responsible for my first-ever public dance moment. It was her wedding reception, there was a Soul Train dance line…and I was paired up with my grandmother.  Needless to say, it was quite the night!

Aunt Jeanine was far too young to have been taken from us by Alzheimer’s disease this past January. Not long after her passing, my wife Daisey struck up a conversation with one of our long-time dance students at the Arthur Murray Dance Studios; we learned that she was a board member of the Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. She told us about how the Association is leading the fight to end Alzheimer’s.

As business owners, making a donation here and there of course seems like the right thing to do.  But to us – with our close connection to Alzheimer’s disease – that simply didn’t feel like it was enough. We needed to do more. That is how we became participants in The Longest Day, which provides us an opportunity to do what we love – DANCE! – and raise funds and awareness to fight this disease at the same time.  It feels like the perfect match.

My wife and I are competitive about the things we’re passionate about, and we’re very passionate about The Longest Day. Being affected by the disease firsthand is why we decided to lead the charge within our dance community, and our community has responded! Today, members of our staff have each donated the proceeds from the dance classes they love to teach, and everyone around us is showing their love. We have honored Jeanine and everyone in the Arthur Murray community touched by this disease – and millions more.

The thought that people around the world are joining together today to make sure that this generation will be the last generation affected by Alzheimer’s is astounding. For our part, we have danced all types of ballroom dance to support Jeanine. While it isn’t quite the same as that Soul Train line I joined so many years ago, we are all dancing with that same kind of joy in our hearts.

This may be our first year participating in The Longest Day – but it is the first of many more to come!

About the Author:  Chris Lynam, his wife Daisey and family and friends of the Arthur Murray Dance Studio are participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day® on June 21, 2017, to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Chris and Daisey are captains of Team Arthur Murray in Redwood City, California. To date, the Arthur Murray group has raised over $40,000 for The Longest Day.

Jun 192017
 

Our Longest Day is spent playing golf, my husband Mickey’s favorite sport, which he grew up enjoying with his dad.

In 2013, at age 55, Mickey was diagnosed with early-onset (also known as younger-onset) Alzheimer’s disease. Our family wanted to find a way to fight back, and we wanted to include Mickey in whatever we did. A golf tournament in his honor on The Longest Day was the best – and most obvious – choice! 

Today marks our third annual “Mickey’s Mania” Golf Classic. Our friends will come from far (and not so far) to join us for a great day of fun, laughter, food and libations. Everyone is here because they know that even after Mickey is gone, there will be people who need caregiver support and resources from the Alzheimer’s Association – and we raise funds and awareness in honor of his amazing fight.

We started the day by setting up signs acknowledging our donors and supporters; as the players make their way through the 18 holes, they will see all the people who were crucial to putting this event together – and there are so many.

Players arrived bright and early at 7 a.m. to pick up their goody bags – of course wearing hats monogrammed with our “Mickey’s Mania” logo – and then enjoyed a breakfast assortment of traditional San Antonio breakfast tacos; these delicious essentials are crucial to powering through the long day ahead! As the players lined up, I reminded them that we are here to rejoice in life – making this day, The Longest Day, the best day ever.

Mickey has almost been in tears as he greets old friends he hasn’t seen in some time, along with people we don’t even know who showed up to play golf today and support the fight.  He asks: “Is this all for me?!”  I tell him yes, it is – for him and the millions of others living with Alzheimer’s disease.

As each team finishes their round, they make their way to the silent auction. Then The Kimberly Dunn Band entertains us through lunch, as they’ve done for the past two years.

Shortly, the top three teams will be awarded prizes and the winning team will be awarded the coveted monogrammed “Purple Jacket”, much in the style of the green Master’s tournament jacket given to the pros. As the players eat, our family will stop at each table, thanking everyone for coming. We are already a little sunburned, but it has all been worth it!

My favorite part of The Longest Day is driving in the golf cart and seeing each team as they play. Some people have run up to hug me or introduce themselves, and as always, this day will result in so many wonderful memories and photos. Mickey really enjoys looking at the pictures from the last two years of the event on our wall at home even though he can’t remember the celebrations. I am lucky to have my memories from each of those amazing days.

We won’t have the final numbers for few days, but our hope is always to raise more than the previous year. To date, our efforts have raised more than $50,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association; we hope that the numbers this year will exceed that, making it a record year for Mickey’s Mania.

Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease, and we wonder if Mickey will be here for next year’s tournament, which we are already in the midst of planning. As scary as that thought is, what we don’t have to wonder about is our commitment to this cause. Our family will continue to raise funds until our task is finished, and a cure is found – eradicating Alzheimer’s disease for good.

About the Author: Together with her family and friends, Jane Wakely is participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day® on June 21, 2017, to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. You can visit Jane’s team page here.

May 162017
 

The Longest Day is all about love! On the summer solstice, people select any activity they love — or an activity loved by those affected by Alzheimer’s disease — to help raise funds and awareness to help end Alzheimer’s.

Two sisters from Decorah, Iowa are fighting to end Alzheimer’s  on behalf of their father Dale, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at age 57. Most of Brecka and Shanna’s The Longest Day teammates are honoring or remembering someone special to them, as all of them have been affected by Alzheimer’s disease in one way or another. Although the sisters know that there won’t be a cure in their dad’s lifetime, they are fighting to make sure that there is a cure in theirs!

Joining the fight

“Dad is an avid cyclist and I have always enjoyed riding with him and his friends. The Longest Day allows us to do something he loves while honoring him and raising funds to take down Alzheimer’s – what could be better?!” says Shanna.

“We don’t do anything less than 100%, so we loved the freedom to go as big as our dreams by picking a meaningful activity and a time that works with our schedules,” Brecka says on The Longest Day event’s flexibility.


Preparing for the day-of

The sisters had an easy time choosing the activity of cycling. “Dad once completed a triple century (300 miles!) in a single day. He also was one of the leaders in a fundraising project aiming to extend a local bike trail,” says Brecka beams. “It only seems fitting to start the event on the piece of the trail he helped to make possible. We’re also encouraging out-of-towners to ride in their own cities; people who don’t bike can get involved by walking or jogging!”

Shanna knows that planning is key to their event’s success. “We have been reaching out to everyone we know to join in the fight.  We have gotten a lot of community and business support and hope to do other mini-fundraisers to help us reach our fundraising goal.

“The day-of is going to be EPIC.  We are planning an hour for both kids and teens and businesses are taking an hour to honor and remember those impacted by Alzheimer’s. We also have a pretty fantastic after party planned. It will cap off 24 hours of kicking Alzheimer’s in the butt!”


Their longest days

Despite all of their excitement about the day itself, it has been a rough road for both sisters and their family. Brecka experienced her longest moments in the space between when she found out her dad had Alzheimer’s and in supporting him as he told her other sisters of his diagnosis. “Not being able to “fix it” was a terrible feeling,” she says.

For Shanna, there have been so many heart-wrenching moments. “The hardest part is seeing my dad decline, because he knows that he is declining.  My little sister is still in high school and could lose Dad before she graduates – that is one of the worst parts. And finally, knowing that my kids, ages 3 yearsand 3months, have very limited time with their grandpa…it just breaks my heart.”

Both sisters agree – being able to take control of their activity and plans for The Longest Day is empowering and helps them feel like part of the fight to end Alzheimer’s. It is a way for them to leave their mark and honor their father and his legacy. “Finding a cure has to become everyone’s business, or it’s going to become everyone’s big problem really soon,” says Brecka.

In it together

The sisters aren’t slowing down, because they know that no one can fight this disease alone. “As the population ages, and advances in medicine help people live longer, a greater percentage of people will have Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Our country doesn’t have the infrastructure or resources to care for the number of people who will have dementia – but otherwise be reasonably healthy – in the years to come. We won’t be able to cover the costs: physically, financially or emotionally. We have to find a cure,” says Brecka.

Shanna admits that she learned about Alzheimer’s the hard way: by seeing her dad’s fight. “I am embarrassed to admit I had a lot of misconceptions about Alzheimer’s before Dad was diagnosed.  I didn’t realize how young it can hit, and how great of an impact it has on the person diagnosed, not to mention friends and family.  It is a heartbreaking disease, and sadly it is one that will impact us all.”

Making sour moments sweeter

Shanna and Brecka’s team has raised $4,517 to date, but their goal is $24,000 – $1,000 for each hour in the day. “We started by creating a presence on social media and have been regularly sharing a lot of video content,” says Brecka.

“We’re in the early phases of getting support from local businesses and schools and have several businesses lined up to hold their own fundraisers for the event. We’re well on our way!” adds Shanna.

“There is a quote from one of my favorite television shows, “This is Us,” that has inspired me along our fundraising journey,” says Shanna. “A character said: ‘There’s no lemon so sour that you can’t make something resembling lemonade.’

“Our dad’s diagnosis was one of life’s most sour lemons. Finding a cure…now that’s our lemonade.”

About Shanna and Brecka: The sisters joined The Longest Day as team Trails for Dale to celebrate and honor their dad, Dale Putnam, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Although there is no cure for him, or anyone fighting Alzheimer’s today, he’s an active participant in Alzheimer’s clinical trials in hopes that one day there will be a cure for someone else. Shanna and Brecka want to help make his dream a reality.  Visit their team page here.

 

 

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
 

ss2

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.

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