Aug 302013

Karen_GarnerWhy do I Walk to End Alzheimer’s? Good question.

I don’t do it for me.

I walk because I have a husband who has younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. I walk because my husband’s brother passed away from younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. I walk because their Mom passed away from younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease —and possibly their Grandmother and Uncle.

My husband is 51. His brother was 52.

I walk because I have two children, a 9-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter, that I love with all of my heart and soul. I would do anything to keep them from harm and to keep them healthy and happy. What I can’t do is save them from Alzheimer’s — and I can’t save their father from Alzheimer’s.

Here is what I can do: I can work hard now in the hopes and belief that a cure and a treatment will come. Right now, once you receive the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, there is no way to stop or slow its progression. There is no hope for surviving.  But that could be different for our children.

When I Walk to End Alzheimer’s I am helping with research funding; I am helping with programs to assist others going through this horrific plight, and I am spreading the word and getting others involved.

Any other disease that has gotten huge media coverage (AIDS) or HUGE amounts of funding (CARDIOVASCULAR, POLIO) or affects people of all ages (CANCER), now has a treatment or a cure.  When people come together and form an allegiance against something, change happens.  So, I am asking everyone I know to join me in this fight.

When my children look back, I want them to know that I did everything in my power to release our family from this tragedy. I Walk to End Alzheimer’s because I am a fighter. I am someone that wants to make a difference.

This road, this life, this journey has already been one that I am not sure I can keep travelling. The frustrations, the loneliness, the financial woes, the loss of dreams, the pure exhaustion— sometimes, mentally and physically, it’s too much for this 43-year-old woman. But what keeps me moving forward and working hard to reach our end goal of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s is not only my own children and their children, but ALL of my friends, neighbors, co-workers and fellow humans.

I know there are others that want to help. But they are tired, worn out and just can’t do it. I get it. I understand. When I Walk to End Alzheimer’s, I know there are many others walking with me in spirit. I walk for all of us.

I walk because I can.

I walk because it is the right thing to do.

I walk because I want to end Alzheimer’s.

About the blog author: Karen Garner is a mother of a 9-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter.  She works full time and is care partner for her husband, Jim, who is living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s. She shares her journey through her blog, Missing Jim.

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  37 Responses to “Why I Walk to End Alzheimer’s”

  1. my dad had alzheimers he was only 64 when he was diagnosed…its the slow goodbye and its awful when they don't recognise you anymore….I need to do more to help find a cure for this awful disease as I know that I could end up with alzheimers so could my children and grandchild

  2. Oh, dear Karen, my husband Jim had early onset Alzheimer's in his late forties, diagnosed in 1990
    and we had kids 8, 12, 14. Your story sounds familiar and my heart goes out to you!!! Please know we survived 13 years, taking it day by day with the Lord's help and lots of love!!! You Karen will too. I hope you have some sort of support, but our story is rare and others find it hard to relate. You are now on my prayer list daily and have hopes for your family. I will keep up on your blog so know how best to pray. Hugs~~~Judy

  3. My mother had early onset… diagnosed at 52 after we spent several years wondering what the heck was happening. That was 30 years ago. I am shocked there is still no effective treatment or prevention. God Bless You, your husband, and children.

    Deb VanVelse

  4. I ache for this woman. I cannot imagine the turmoil, sadness and pain that is in it. My mother died of Alzheimer's, and it was terrible to watch, but she was in her early 80's. It was still too soon, but the pain was watching my mother disappear a little at a time. We need to find a treatment, a cure and a preventative for this terrible disease.

  5. Bless your heart. I know how you feel.

  6. My husband passed away at 51 from early on set, we lived with it for 2 and a half yrs from when he was diagnosed, it was hard but I did it with help from family and friends. That was 10 yrs. ago, his mother has it and his grandmother had it. It's very sad and my prayers are with you and your family for the strength you need.

  7. All the best to you Karen, thank you for sharing your story. I lost my Mom to Alzheimer's so I can feel your struggle, thankfully my Mom lived to be 86 and had a good life. I can't image what you must go through on a daily basis. While I am not able to walk this year I am making a donation, we do need to find a cure for this vile disease.

  8. I am walking for my Mother who has Alzheimer's!

  9. Karen please contact me my husband is 35 we have 3 children 14 9 and 8 would love to have a conversation with you!

  10. I take care of my mother of 89 years……stressful!!!!!!! HELP

  11. Thank you for sharing your story. My husband is a bit older that your spouse, and has early stage Alz. Our sons are 20 and 18 – I am 2nd wife. I am involved in Walk in CT. Thanks for all that you are doing to end Alz.

  12. Thanks, Karen You are such a good person and a fighter.

  13. My dad passed in April. He had Alzheimer's. So did my Godmother. Such a cruel disease . I didn't realize that there was younger-onset Alzheimer's. I pray for your family ad that some day soon their is a cure for this life stealing disease.

  14. Wow! My father passed away at 65 from Alzheimer's and I too believe that we need to find a cure!

  15. Karen, I totally understand how you feel. My mother, who is now 86 years old, just had her 49th wedding anniversary with my stepfather. I wished her Happy Anniversary and she just started crying. She doesn't know why, but I do. She misses the simple thought of remembering her anniversary. I MISS HER SO MUCH!!! We talk sometimes and she seems to be there but then, in a split second, she's gone! I thought that as I grew older, we would make wonderful memories with my children (her grandchildren) but Alzheimer's took that away from us. I didn't see my mother much after I married because my husband's job moved us across country. If I had only known this disease was going to take her away from me, I would have never left. My children don't really know her! It is very sad, but keep the faith! Miracles happen every day!!

    • I can relate to your story Kathy. My mother is 85 y/o and had early onset dementia 2 years ago. It is a struggle to take care of her at times. I miss my mom!!!! She is not the same mom I had two years ago and try to understand why but I don't get any answers. She was and still is my closest friend. We traveled everywhere together and now she doesn't even remember what she did yesterday. I just wish I had my mom back!!!! I am walking tomorrow in SA,TX for Alzheimer's hoping someday they find a cure.

  16. I know about it my dad is suffering from it. I can understand the pain and anguish. I hope and pray that we get the cure for this dreaded disease.

  17. Wow may God Bless you Karen. I also fear for my Children and their getting Alzheimer's. Both My Mom and Mother in Law have it. I also have a Aunt with it. I walk also for a Cure.

  18. Thank you for walking. My mom has Alzheimers also.

  19. This is the first I have heard of younger Alzheimer's. Karen, thank you for sharing your story. I can not even comprehend how tragic that must be for the person and their families. My husband and I are in our late seventies and we have only been dealing with this for the past year or so. My Dad always told me when I think I have troubles, just look around and I will see someone with more serious things in their life. That is so true.

  20. You are so brave. I am walking too. I lost three aunts to this disease and my husband lost his grandmother. It scares me to think that this disease lurks in my daughter's DNA.

  21. You are a wonderful woman and supporter, Karen!
    My sister and best friend, now 59, has younger on-set Alzheimer's; sadly, now in a severe stage. My mom, 86, has Alzheimer's as well.
    I agree! There needs to be more research and a cure!
    Everyone out there knows someone or has had a family member or friend that has been touched by Alzheimer's in some way. As we know, this disease does not affect only older people.

  22. Karen – God bless you. I can't even imagine what you are dealing with every minute of every day with your life partner stricken with this horrific disease. My beautiful mother, (who was my best friend) dies 6 weeks ago from Alz. She was diagnosed at 68 years and was dead by 70. She starved to death after she forgot how to eat or drink; swallow. She had a living- will so didn't want to be kept alive by artificial means so we had to sit by her bedside for 11 days and watch her slip away. My dad had been taking care of her for the last 2 years along with my help. He committed suicide this past Dec because of caregiver stress. I found him dead of a gunshot wound to the head. All guns should be removed from a home where a person is dying of Alzheimer's, They become hopeless and depressed and cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. I will pray for you.

  23. Thank you you for expressing what I can't.

    God bless you and your family. I walk, too, to end Alzheimer's.

  24. Karen, your story is very moving & personal. I feel I could insert my husband's name in your story. He was diagnosed last August and is struggling. We have 2 children aged 12 & 17. They are both angry & scared. I am right there with them. I pray for a break through in research. This IS for our children & all future generations.

  25. I hope everyone who reads these stories finds a little more strength to keep fighting or decides to join the fight. We need to make Alzheimer's Awareness something that everyone talks about and relizes this disease has NO CURE. Most days no matter where I go, Hair Salon, Restaurant, etc. I overhear stories of someone who has in someway been affected by this disease.It is important to know we are not alone, keep spreading the word, keep walking, because TOGETHER WE CAN FIND A CURE!!!!


  26. I am also walking because my husband was diagnosed at 57, 3 years ago. I also worry about my children who are 26 (twins). We need to do everything in our power to help find a cure. This is a horrible and tragic disease. Stay strong!

  27. Oh my. My husband's dementia began about 10 years ago. He was 59. He was at home with me until a year and a half ago when I could no longer give him the care he deserves. He is now a resident of a skilled nursing center and I am there twice a day everyday. Now I do get some sleep making me a more loving spouse and better able to use humor in my visits. Kind words and plenty of hugs are so important in my husbands care. Of course this disease has completely changed the direction of our lives. I pray daily for those caring for loved ones with dementia. It is so very difficult mentally and financially. I have three children who are now married and three grandchildren. With research, I am hopeful they will never experience this horrid disease.

  28. Karen
    My name is Denny. I am 62 years old and last May was diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease. After years of testing, the diagnosis answers many questions about past problems/symptoms etc. However, our future is very uncertain.

    My wife, Patty is a loving partner and so far can smooth each week's rough spots. Early stage Alzheimer's has not yet changed my daily routines a lot. Yet, our future will not be what we dreamed it would be.

    I feel for Jim, you, and your family and understand a little about your feelings and fears. Your strength and courage has and will continue to impact others. Keep fighting for a brighter future!

    Best wishes.

    Denny and Patty Walsh

  29. Thank you for sharing your story. My mother was diagnosed with early on set Alzheimers at 50, and to hear another story with someone who is so young fighting this disease is some how comforting. I pray that with all of our support, we will find a cure! Thank you for being courageous.

  30. Karen
    My wife was daignosed at 51 now 7 years later she needs full time care. We also lost my father-in-law and an uncle (all on the same side of the family) to this heinous disease. I have two grown sons and it hurts so deeply not knowing what they they have ahead of them.

    I pray every day for all those afflicted with this disease and their care givers.

    It is time for Govt to step up before Alz bankrupts the health care ssyste,

  31. dear Karen,
    I think I know where you get your strength. instead of feeling sorry for your self you are involved in helping not only your family but others as well. my husband was diagnosed with early stage at age 88, 2 years ago. he still functions remarkable well and is involved in a research project. when I am tempted to feel sorry for myself I will remember you and your story. thank you. I will pray for you. jnaet

  32. Wonderful story – I am walking in the SA, TX Walk to End Alzheimer's. I hope someday they will find a cure for this terrible disease!!!

  33. Bless you more.. Keep up the good work..

  34. I feel your strength, honor, drive and pain. Continue on and give it your all…you will never be sorry for your dedication! Your story somewhat relates to mine – My mom currently has this, is 72 onset at 60, her sister recently passed at 70 – onset at 60 and another just recently diagnosed. Their father had it, as well as one of his sisters. Progression can be slowed but I can have faith someday, hopefully soon, they will find the cure. Please keep your faith and encourage daily.

  35. Dear Alzheimer's Patient Caregivers,

    Please read this. I am so sorry for what you suffer. Please forgive me for my inability to do more. I do not know if I will even make the walk, which I just learned about, although I hope so.

    I want you to know two things I have discovered in my research that can have a positive impact on Alzheimer's patients. One is fairly simple: put on some of your loved one's favorite music. This will sometimes bring people back to themselves for a few minutes. It might enable you to have a decent, if brief, conversation with the person you have loved so well and for so long.

    The other is even simpler, although you won't believe me. I hope you do the research and realize this is possible.

    You already know about it. It's called turmeric, and it's the spice in yellow mustard that stains your shirt. Do not ask me how or why, but this spice, which is in the same family as ginger, is good for digestion, excretion, circulation… essentially, taken on a daily basis, it is extraordinarily good for you. Put it in food. If you can use more than a teaspoon a day, I'd be very surprised, and that dose should not have negative consequences.

    The best part is yet to come. For $2, you can buy a bottle of turmeric at Trader Joe's. For refills, shop at your local grocers in the bulk section. I know PCC carries it.

    I am not promising a complete cure. I have not (thank you, heaven) known anyone with Alzheimer's, but this is something I have read about, and it is worth exploring. It is also helpful for people with Parkinson's and with autism.

    Turmeric is good in curry, actually makes it a little milder. It is good in warm milk with honey (just a quarter teaspoon or less). It is good in drip coffee (as is ginger; don't believe me. Try it!). It's good in spaghetti sauces and gravies.

    It is possible to ruin turmeric, but just add a little to a spoonful or so of your food before you add it to the whole batch, as a test.

    Cannot claim to know any cures, but this is the best addition to your daily regimen that I can possibly recommend.

  36. God bless you. Alzheimers is a destroying disease. God bless you for being strong.

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