I am forged with the mission to share with you my journey of learning about Alzheimer’s disease. Being a person who only see things in black and white I have found that it is hard to make meaning of the disease let alone learn how to comfortably have a conversation with someone that has Alzheimer’s. I can honestly say that I recently discovered that my grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease but being that I was so young I associated it as normal aging. Although I do not understand the disease the greatest connection I have to to the disease was watching my mother serve as a caregiver for my father who died 7 years ago on Christmas of Stage 5 Lung Cancer. I feel the pain that Alzheimer’s caregivers have and feel an excruciating amount of love for them. Because of that I am going to share with you briefs anecdotes from my time volunteering when I feel inspired.
I have been in love for 60 years and the hardest thing I have come to know is saying goodnight to my wife. I kiss her goodnight, I put her to bed and drive home – praying and hoping that tomorrow is another great day. Greater than missing our evening routines and the ability to help one another is that every night I have to explain to her why I am leaving. I tell her that it will be fine and that I will see her tomorrow bright and early.
Emotions arise and she does not understand why he is leaving. But how would she, what if she still views herself as she did years ago? Happy, healthy and in love with her husband.
They always say that you can not help someone unless they realize that they have a problem. What if a person that has Alzheimer’s disease views themselves as they did years ago and does not realize that they have the disease. Greater than this, how do you help someone that has Alzheimer’s disease understand why they are living in a nursing home?
All of these thoughts and reflections have inspired me from volunteering at a nursing home in Columbus where I spend time with Alzheimer’s patients monthly. I was blessed with the opportunity in 2013 to start a Young Professional Group in Columbus called the Junior Committee that raises awareness about Alzheimer’s disease that is a part of the Central Ohio Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s is currently the 6th leading cause of death in the US — affecting more than 24,000 people in Columbus. We exist because there is a need to raise awareness and negate the notion that Alzheimer’s is a normal part of aging. Our goal of continued awareness is accomplished through events that are as diverse as our members, education, volunteerism, and a focus on advocacy at the local and national levels.
It is my greatest hope from reading this that you will be inspired to join the movement to end Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the United States and even more expensive than heart disease and cancer. Because of that your help is needed now!
And greater than that is to be in the present moment and be grateful for the people that are in your life. I am reminded from my time this evening with the caregiver that the pain that I thought i had from being in a long distance relationship was selfish. Although we are miles apart we are able to say goodnight and to take care of each other and help each other out when we have bad days. At the end of the day that is more than enough :)
Here are some challenges for you :)
- Join the Junior Committee of Central Ohio of the Central Ohio Alzheimer’s Association
- Spend time with the elderly or someone that has Alzheimer’s – you will learn a heck of a lot
- Have conversations with your loved ones about facilities they would be comfortable with
- Get using to giving – Make A Donation – Nothing is ever too small
- Power is knowledge – Become Informed – first learn how to pronounce Alzheimer’s ;)
- Start your own Young Professional Alzheimer’s Movement [[interested?? E-mail me🙂 DeSantis@RMDAdvertising :)]]
Connect with the Junior Committee on Social Media!
I would love to hear your feedback- if you are inspired share with a friend. If you are affected by Alzheimer’s share with me..
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