Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease: Why I Walk – Team Meg

Galveston Walk to End Alzheimer's Team Meg holding proclamation
Team Meg receives proclamation from Galveston County. Pictured left to right: Juan Pena, Brandt Raeburn, Meg Raeburn, Alice Williams.

By Brandt Raeburn

My wife Meg worked as a social worker for Adult Protective Services for 14 years, holds a Masters Degree, and handled over 70 cases a month. She turned down supervisory positions to stay on the front line where she felt she could make a difference. About 6 years ago a change began to occur where she was no longer able to multi-task and was becoming scared of her daily routine.

I lost my father to Alzheimer’s after an 8 year fight in 1999, and could see the signs beginning of what I prayed was not happening, and feared the most. Meg would cry for fear of going to work and I contacted her supervisor, and Meg resigned her position in February 2006. After six months of doctors and hospitals, the diagnosis was confirmed and Meg was already moderately severe with Alzheimer’s. She was 50 years old.

We have five children, and my oldest daughter and I worked out a routine for her care during the day while I work. She requires 24/7 care and cannot be left alone. I had planned on retiring within a year, and we were going to move to Johnson City to our retirement dream on the Pedernales River. This now was delayed and I have stayed with my position to financially make it feasible to retire in a position to where I could take care of Meg and myself.

We are fighting the good fight and with the help of a great neurologist and medication have managed her transition into the darkness and slowed it, but still it progresses every day. In the beginning we cried and watched as the disease progressed uncontrollably. Now she has no idea what has happened and is happiest when we are together. I thank God that she still knows me and I know that each day is important.  I talk to the “big guy upstairs” all the time and thank Him that I am young enough to take care of her.

Routines are the most important and we have a good one. My days are full, but rewarding, and the simple things have become the most important. I have a little over to two years to retire and have made plans for us to transition to Johnson City. This is where she is the happiest. I am fortunate I have found someone to move with us and will live there to help me take care of Meg. People are different and have varying thoughts, but with me a nursing home is not an option, and unless some type of major medical need arises, she will never see the inside of one.

Today, over 5 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and that number is increased geometrically by 15 million when you count the caregivers and families affected. This number is on the verge of exploding as the “baby boomers” begin to retire. I have found friends with the Alzheimer’s Association and am dedicated to raising funds for research and petitioning our government for legislative changes to help families being decimated financially by this disease.

This is for those who know all too well what I am talking about, those who are just learning, and those who do not know their world will change overnight.  This is our story, and Meg and I had a dream yesterday of what tomorrow would bring.  Now all has changed and today dictates what tomorrow will be.

In honor of my beloved wife, I have organized Team Meg.

Click here to donate to Team Meg or visit our website to find a walk near you and start your team today!

AlzTex Admin

The Alzheimer's Association Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter (www.alz.org/texas) consists of families, caregivers, scientists, health professionals, and concerned citizens who are committed to finding a cure for Alzheimer's Disease and to easing the burden of Alzheimer's Disease and related disorders on patients and their families and loved ones.