January 10th, 2012 at 9:29 am
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A New Year’s resolution: join the fight against Alzheimer’s

by Dorian Martin

As a caregiver, you often feel like you have no control. I found that out quickly while caring for my mom, who had Alzheimer’s disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. However, I increasingly wanted to something, anything! So as we reach the time for making New Year’s resolutions, I’d encourage you to figure out you can do in 2012 to be proactive. My own efforts began when I decided to participate in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s in 2007. I’ve walked every year since and have raised almost $7,500 to support the association’s efforts.

It turns out that I’m not the only one who wants to be of assistance. “I first participated in the Memory Walk in 2010 after an invitation from a friend,” said my friend, Sonia, whose 86-year-old mother has Alzheimer’s. “I thought maybe participating in the walk would make me feel like I was actually doing something that could help. And my kids would understand more about the disease that affects their Granny.”

Walking for an Alzheimer’s cure

Sonia’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 15 years ago. “It started with memory loss and a personality change. Since then she has progressed to the point of no longer recognizing her family and having bouts of aggression where she has to be medicated and placed in a full-time care facility,” Sonia said. “Having a loved one with Alzheimer’s makes me feel angry and frustrated and embarrassed. For instance, how do you explain to your five-year-old why Granny can’t come to Grandparents’ Day? Do you say, “It’s because she doesn’t know she’s your grandmother?’”

Participating in the walk helps Sonia cope with her mother’s illness. “There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s. There’s no treatment that will make my mother ‘normal’ again,” she said. “I came back this year to do the walk because last year was such a positive experience. It helped to talk to the other walkers, hearing how they’ve experienced the same feelings and problems. Some stories were sadder than mine. Some families had multiple members affected. But we all had one goal in common–living to see a world where no one would have to experience this devastating disease.”

Many of you may assist an elder who has a different disease, such as cancer. But just think what you can accomplish by working with others who want to join together against that disease. By joining the fight in 2012, you’ll be making one of your most meaningful resolutions ever.

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