In 1989, my grandfather wandered out of his house and was unable to find his way home. Thankfully, he was found by local police more than a mile from his house. He received a diagnosis from his doctor of ΓÇ£AlzheimerΓÇÖsΓÇ¥. I had heard of it, but I didnΓÇÖt know much about it. Over the course of the next 22 years, I would learn so much about the disease.
My mother and I formed a care team.┬á I moved into his house to oversee daily care and mom coordinated his finances, health care, and other needs. Together, we cared for Grandpa Kenneth for 3 years until his death at the age of 90.┬á My mother passed away less than a year later of cancer. It was a sad time for me and my family.
In 1993, my father met Virginia on the dance floor.┬á A year later they married and traveled the world together; our family rejoiced at their joie de vivre. When Virginia turned 70 we noticed a change in her personality. I urged my father to have her evaluated by a neurologist. After extensive diagnostic tests, it was concluded that she had mild cognitive impairment, which would likely develop into AlzheimerΓÇÖs.
I turned to the AlzheimerΓÇÖs Association Houston & SE Texas Chapter for advice on how to help my father. IΓÇÖve found so much support from the AlzheimerΓÇÖs Association: telephone pep talks, a course on caring for someone with AlzheimerΓÇÖs, and the AlzheimerΓÇÖs Arts Outings which give patients and their caregivers opportunities to visit museums, the zoo and music events.
After two experiences with this disease, I could no longer be silent. Last summer I formed a team for the Houston Walk to End AlzheimerΓÇÖs, which turned out to be a wonderful experience.┬á Not only did I have a wonderful team of 28 friends and family, but I heard so many stories from friends and acquaintances who had their own experiences with AlzheimerΓÇÖs.┬á Suddenly, I realized that, like me, there is a whole community that would like to see this disease eradicated. Wow! What power in numbers! Last year, team ΓÇ£Swing Down Memory LaneΓÇ¥ raised nearly four thousand dollars.
This year, I attended the advocacy forum in Washington D.C. and spent a day walking Capitol Hill with fellow AlzheimerΓÇÖs advocates.┬á Capitol Hill was awash in purple! It was amazing to see all the advocates from across our nation working for the same goal.┬á We have to make our lawmakers understand that if they think Medicare and Medicaid are broken now, just wait to see what the added financial burden will be if they fail to act to provide needed funds for research, care and support.┬á They donΓÇÖt call it the ΓÇ£Silver TsunamiΓÇ¥ for nothing!
Each day it only takes a little effort to inform people of your dream to cure AlzheimerΓÇÖs. It only takes a few minutes to encourage people to give to the cause, and it only takes a few minutes to urge our lawmakers to support our cause. One day and one dollar at a time. Please do as much as you can to help us move our cause to the finish line.┬á At the finish line, we will have found a cure.┬á We will eradicate this disease.