The summer before high school, I had a job sitting with my great-grandmother a couple of hours a week. She was a lovely woman, always had a smile on her face when you greeted her. We would go on walks and eat lunch together. She looked at me one day and said, “I’m so glad my daughter has adopted her into her family. You are a wonderful girl.”
I realized at that moment that she had no idea who I was. In truth, I didn’t really remember her either, since I had only been around her when I was a little girl. But she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s some years before, and any memory of me had been wiped out completely.
It was really heartbreaking for my grandmother. It got really difficult to take care of her in the final months, and she had to live in a healthcare facility. My grandma just watched her mom slowly slip away, becoming a complete stranger. The disease removed even the most closely held memories.
Unfortunately, my great grandmother wasn’t the only relative affected by this disease. In fact, Michael’s family has been affected as well. We have watched as those close to us deteriorate from a disease that has no known cure and will eventually lead to death.
Michael and I have built so many memories together with our friends and family. I can’t imagine losing those, each moment fading into some dark void. Your memories are your identity. They make you who you are, affect your decisions, and direct your path. That’s why we are so passionate about the Alzheimer’s Association. They do so many things to help the families affected by this disease.
They lobby government officials to fund more research to find a cure, or even just better treatment. They connect people with the disease to medical research and care. They help caregivers with information to support the enormous job they have to do.
Every year for the last three years, Michael and I have walked during the Alzheimer Association annual 5K fundraiser. We raise funds to support this amazing organization. The organization has even been amazing to us as participants, making sure we are supported, even in our fundraising.
This month is Alzheimer Awareness month. If you would like to join in this fight, here are a few ways to do so. First, your prayers and kind thoughts would be very appreciated. Second, please consider donating to the cause, whether to the Association directly or to a team that is walking. And finally, I encourage you to find a walk in your area. Here is a link to the Alzheimer Association webpage to find a local event.
No matter what you decide to do, I fervently believe every step, big or small, will make a difference and lead us in the right direction in the fight against Alzheimer’s.