Category Archives: Alzheimer’s Association

Thanksgiving 2019

Life can be so unpredictable. At the end of October, when I published what I thought would be my final blog post for at least six months to a year, I certainly didn’t think I would be writing another one before the end of 2019. But when life is unpredictable, the best place to go is to the community that has supported and loved you, so here I am.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, my husband received a call from his mother. If you have been following this blog, you know that Michael’s dad has had Alzheimer’s for several years. His mom told us that his health had taken a turn for the worse, and we needed to come say goodbye.

So, Monday morning, we packed up our car and made the day’s trek to Arkansas to say goodbye. On Tuesday afternoon, Michael’s dad passed away.

Tuesday. On the fifth anniversary of my first daughter’s stillbirth.

A week after I got the diagnosis that our daughter had passed away, I wrote a blog post of thanksgiving. I felt that it was appropriate, here a week after my father-in-law has passed, that I would write another post of thanksgiving.

I am thankful that Tony is free from the grip of Alzheimer’s disease. His body and mind are once again whole. I am thankful for the advocates that fight and raise funds to find a cure to this disease. We will continue to walk for the cure in honor of Tony as well as other family members who have been affected by it.

I’m thankful for the community that surrounds my mother-in-law and has surrounded her for these past several years. We don’t live very close by, so knowing that her friends could be there for her in the moments we weren’t able to was such a comfort. Community is such an incredible gift from God.

I am thankful for the few cherished memories I have of Tony. I didn’t get to know him well before the disease started affecting him, but one of my best memories of Tony was the time we were in a parking lot, walking to somewhere, and he was walking behind everyone else. So, I went back to walk next to him and gave him a side squeeze before taking my arm in his. He smiled at me and said he loved a good hug when he could get one.

I am thankful for the pieces of Tony that I see in my son. My son has that same penchant for a good hug. Also, when my son is thinking hard about a problem, he makes the same face Tony did. I look forward to the glimpses of Tony we will see in the years to come.

I am thankful for the memories that Michael has of his dad and the impact his dad had on him. One of his best memories is of going down to the creek with his dad and his brother to explore. I see how that love for exploration has encouraged Michael to stay curious about his passions and the world around him and to never stop learning.

I am thankful for the many ways Tony has affected the world around him. When my mother-in-law posted his passing on her Facebook, there were so many comments of how special Tony was to other people, how he encouraged, loved, and impacted their lives. I’ve been able to get to know even more about this amazing man through the stories and perspectives of those he has loved.

Most of all, I am thankful for God in whom we can place our trust and hope. He makes his presence known in such powerful ways on the darkest days. I know that Tony is finally free from the struggles of this life and has received his promised reward. And for that, I am so thankful.

Walk For The Cure

I spent the summer of my freshman year of high school taking care of my great grandmother who had dementia. We didn’t live near each other growing up, so by the time I was taking care of her, she really didn’t know who I was. Still, she was sweet, loved to take walks and sing songs. She would chat about everything.

My great-grandma

But after that summer, I moved to another city and wasn’t able to visit as often. My grandma shared the struggles of taking care of her mom, moving her into a full-time facility, and watching her continue to decline. When she passed away, I was sad that she was gone, but I also felt joy knowing that she was once again whole and at rest from all of the fear and struggle she had to endure.

So, when my father-in-law got the diagnosis of dementia stemming from a series of mini-strokes, I knew where the road would lead. I knew at some point, he wouldn’t know who I was, or who my husband was, his own son. And eventually, I knew that all of his memories would slowly disappear altogether. Even though I had been here before, nothing can completely prepare you for what lies ahead. I had dealt with grief and loss in the past, but this kind of grief was different.

Michael and his dad

My therapist calls it ambiguous grief. The kind of grief one has when having a loved one with a terminal illness. It settles in long before they physically pass away. Every goodbye could be the last one. You don’t know how fast the decline will be, either mentally or physically. It can cause anxiety, numbness, or both, ebbing and flowing throughout the entire process. And for me, the most important thing I knew about this type of grief is that it shouldn’t be navigated alone.

Then, really by complete chance, I saw an advertisement for the Alzheimer Walk back in 2010. It was going to be at the Dallas Zoo, which sounded like a lot of fun. Plus, I knew that in the coming years, this organization was going to become more and more important to us as a resource and a community. I knew, like with my great-grandmother, that there was going to be a point when I would feel the overwhelming ambiguous grief and complete helplessness. I realized that participating in this cause was something we could do to support not only our families, but everyone who is affected by this disease.

Our first Walk back in 2010.

This will be our tenth year to walk. We walk for caretaker support, to provide resources and aid to people like my mother-in-law who are caring for loved ones with this disease. We walk to remember those like my great-grandmother who already passed away. We walk to remember those like my father-in-law who are presently in the grips of Alzheimer’s. We walk for those in the future who will face this disease, that there will not only be better research and medicine, but a complete cure.

Our team is trying to raise $500 dollars, and I’m personally trying to do my part by raising $250. If you are able to help us reach that goal, please click the link below. But even if you can’t support us financially this time around, please keep us in your prayers or happy thoughts as we approach the walk this year. Pray for good weather and that everyone there feels loved and supported, that they aren’t alone in the struggle.

Link to my Fundraising Page

Our Eighth Walk

This past Saturday, Michael and I attended our eighth Walk to End Alzheimer’s here in Dallas.  Last year’s recap can be found here.

 

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I say “attended” because I didn’t actually walk this year.  Since I’m in a high-risk pregnancy and have been dealing with a lot of morning sickness, we thought it would be best if I sat this one out.  I became the place where everyone would meet, left their valuables, and took pictures together.

I say “everyone” because we had quite a team this year.  Michael’s coworkers formed a big part of our team.  We were so happy that so many were able to come and support us.

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Also, Michael’s mom and her friend came (friend not pictured).  We were so happy she was able to come as well.  She also plans to walk in the Alzheimer Walk in her home state later this year.  It really made this weekend special!

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Of course, I didn’t sit alone!  Jerzee came along as well!  I can’t remember how many walks this will be for her, but she has been to most of them throughout the years!  She even wore her bandana she got last year.

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One of my favorite parts of the opening ceremony is when we all raise our flowers for Alzheimer’s.  Each color represents a different category.  Yellow flowers are the ones who are caretakers.  Blue flowers are the ones who have Alzheimer’s.  Purple ones have lost someone to Alzheimer’s.  And Orange ones are for those who are advocates or supporters.

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Because of all the support from friends and family, we made our team goal, plus some!  And I also made my personal goal (plus some) as well!  We are so thankful for your thoughts, prayers, donations, and supportive comments.  We are determined to find a cure for this horrible disease as well as help advocate for the care of those already dealing with this disease.  Thank you for all of your support!

The Longest Day

Today is the first day of summer.  It is also the longest day of the year when the sun is out the longest.  The Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging people to do something special during this day to raise awareness.  I’ve decided to do something a little fun throughout the day.

longest day

Today, on my Instagram, I will be sending out a story every hour from sunrise to sundown (approximately 6:30 to 8:30).  I will be sharing information about Alzheimer’s disease, some from my personal life and some statistical information.  So check me out @katyslifestory on Instagram.

If you would like to give a donation to support funding for Alzheimer research and advocacy, one way you can do that is by giving to our team as we walk in our eighth Alzheimer Walk this year in September.  The link to that is below!  Thanks!

Link to Our Team Page!

The Walk

My first exposure to Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia was when I was 14 years old.  My summer job that year was to walk to my great aunt’s house and take care of my great grandmother, Zorie for a couple of hours during the day.  We would walk together down the block and eat lunch together.  I would play the piano for her.

But she had no idea who I was.  She was still kind, still excited to see me.  She had her good days and her bad days, but I treasured every moment I spent with her.

After Michael’s dad was diagnosed with dementia, I knew that the road ahead was going to be hard.  I am proud of my mother-in-law.  She has been an incredibly loving caretaker to him.  It’s difficult to watch the disease progress over the years.

Several years ago, I saw a commercial promoting the Alzheimer Walk by the Alzheimer’s Association.  I thought this would be a great way for us to support Michael’s dad, honor my great-grandmother, and find encouragement as well.  So, we signed up and headed to our first walk.

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Over the years, the locations have changed.  But the walk remains one of the greatest experiences we have each year.  We connect with people who are walking the same journey we are.

We were even blessed to have Michael’s family come down during different years, as well as friends here walk with us

Last year, the whole family was able to be here to participate together.

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Every year we raise money to help aid the research into finding a cure for this disease.  This year’s goal is $500, and my personal goal is $200.  There are three ways you can personally help us reach our goal.  First, you can give what you can.  Whether it’s $5 or $50, please consider giving to this cause and helping to find a cure to this awful disease.  Second, Share our link below or this blog post with family or friends who might be able to support us this year.  And finally, you can pray or send happy thoughts. While the Alzheimer Walk is a relatively easy one, the journey of this disease is tough. Remember us in your daily thoughts and prayers as we battle this disease together as a family.

A Walk for the Cure

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.

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Picture from Last Year’s Walk

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.

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Picture from Last Year’s Walk

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.