Alzheimer’s Disease Took My Mother
It has been said that Alzheimer's Disease is the "long goodbye" - I'm here to tell you that is the honest truth. I lost my mom to Alzheimer's Disease in 2018, and there is not a day or an hour, or even a minute that goes by that I don't think of her and miss her terribly.
We first noticed her forgetting little things, asking, "where did I put my keys," and "now, what did I come in here for?" But the first time we were actually aware of how significant her symptoms were was the day she called me on her cell phone saying, "I don't know where I am."
Let that sink in.
My Mom was in her car in a town that we have lived in for decades, and she had absolutely zero clue where she was. We knew then this was much more than old age. The doctors at they Reynolds Army Health Clinic on Fort Sill confirmed our fears. It was Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's disease is a type of irreversible, progressive brain disease that attacks and destroys the brain's cells, which results in a loss of memory and other essential cognitive functions. The neurodegenerative disease is responsible for causing up to sixty percent of dementia cases. Contrary to popular belief, Alzheimer's disease should not be considered a normal part of aging as approximately two hundred thousand people under the age of sixty-five have been diagnosed in the United States alone. Symptoms of the disease worsen over the years and are eventually terminal.
WARNING! I have a timeline of pictures of my sweet momma from the day that she moved into the assisted living Alzheimer's unit, until just before the disease took her from us. They are not easy to see. Even harder for me to post.
Effects of Alzheimer's Disease
It's no question that I find comfort in music. And there have been many songs that have embraced me over the years while coming to grips with my mom's battle with Alzheimer's. This song by Jay Allen, titled "Blank Stares," sums up what it's like living with a person who has Alzheimer's Disease.
One of the most notable cases of Alzheimer's Disease was Glen Campbell, a country superstar who struggled with the disease until his passing. His last song, 'I'm Not Gonna Miss You", still brings tears to my eyes. For two reasons, the truth of the song, that those who suffer from Alzheimer's will not miss those left behind, they have forgotten them already, and the fact that Glen Campbell was singing his life story.
Hankie Alert - grab your tissues, everybody.
Generational Alzheimer's Disease
This morning, I lost my watch. No biggie, right? I had it in my hand, and within a few minutes, I couldn't find it. I looked everywhere that I had been this morning. I looked in the garage where I folded a load of clothes, in the bathroom, getting ready for work, and of course in my room. Nothing.
I ended up leaving my house without my watch. And on my way to work, I cried. Not because I lost my watch, but what losing my watch signals in my head. The fact that both my mother and my grandmother died from Alzheimer's Disease is a strong indicator that I could also fall victim to this disease.
According to the Alzheimer Association, family history is not necessary to develop Alzheimer's Disease, but if you do, it's more than likely that you will.
... research shows that those who have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer's are more likely to develop the disease than those who do not have a first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s. Those who have more than one first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s are at an even higher risk. When diseases like Alzheimer's and other dementias tend to run in families, either genetics (hereditary factors), environmental factors — or both — may play a role.
I do not want it. I do not want to forget my family. I refuse. I try a lot of different things to keep my mind active to ward off the possibility of developing Alzheimer's Disease, like reading, crossword puzzles, and, of course, working here at KLAW. But, unfortunately, the fear still plagues me every single time I forget something.
Lawton Walk to End Alzheimer's 2022
This Saturday, Sept. 24, in Lawton you can Walk to End Alzheimer's. I have been participating in this walk even before my mother developed Alzheimer's Disease. It has always held a special place in my heart.
Every dollar raised during the Walk to End Alzheimer's goes to research and care of Alzheimer's patients all across America. This year in Lawton, a simple walk around the Miracle Field in Elmer Thomas Park is all it takes to save lives.
The day's event will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Elmer Thomas Park, by the Miracle Field, followed by the Promise Garden ceremony and the walk will start at 10 a.m. During the Promise Garden ceremony, participants will honor those affected by Alzheimer's by using colorful flowers to represent the participants’ connections to the disease and their personal reasons for walking to end Alzheimer’s.
“We are thrilled to be back in Lawton this year at Elmer Thomas Park,” said Sandi Pellow, chapter executive director for the Alzheimer’s Association Oklahoma Chapter. “Our committee and staff are working hard to create an experience that is meaningful and inspiring for all our teams and participants.”
The Walk to End Alzheimer's is hosted annually in more than 600 communities nationwide. Currently, there are more than six million Americans living with Alzheimer's Disease, which is a leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, more than 11 million family members and friends provide care to people living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. In Oklahoma alone, there are more than 67,000 people living with the disease and 129,000 unpaid caregivers.
You can register online for the Lawton Walk to End Alzheimer's at lawtonwalk.org.