I’ve been looking forward to this day!

When you hear the word dementia or Alzheimer’s in connection with a family member, you are instantly afraid. You wonder what will happen tomorrow, or the next day, or next year. Then there’s usually a period of denial. You think it won’ t be as bad as you’ve read or heard about. 

BUT it IS as bad as you’ve heard or read. It’s horrific actually. Many of you have loved ones who are victims of this horrible disease too. This year is my mom’s 7th since her dementia diagnosis. The first three weren’t all that bad. I kept tabs on her from 45 minutes away, I did the grocery shopping, wrote the checks and became her power of attorney. During those first few years, my volunteer work centered around my church and the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society. I had begun participating in the two day marathon in 2005, the year my sister was diagnosed with MS. Doing any work connected with Alzheimer’s or dementia never once crossed my mind. 

Then my mom’s situation became pretty bad pretty quickly. I had to move her almost overnight from her apartment into a group home ten minutes from my house. I began doing more research into the disease, its causes and stories about caregivers too. But I still wasn’t compelled to do anything. I had begun keeping a log of my mom’s appointments and daily activities.

In 2011 when I began taking over more and more of my mom’s affairs, I felt more like her mother than her daughter. A few funny conversations with my mom produced the title of what is now my book on our journey so far. The book, which was published in February of 2013, has allowed me to meet and talk with so many people who have been impacted by this horrible disease. I was becoming more and more ready to do something, primarily because all the research I’ve conducted has shocked me. More than 6 million Americans are afflicted with this disease. Financially, it has ruined thousands of families. This is scary stuff!!

Then earlier this summer I learned from a meeting with the DC Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association that November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. I decided that aside from what I’ve done thus far, I would devote the entire month of November to my mom. I’ll do something different every day this month to honor her. So here we are on November 1st. I was so looking forward to this day!!

So what did I do today?  I joined the Facebook community of USAgainstAlzheimer’s Cause, which I didn’t even know existed until today. It’s a national advocacy network committed to ending Alzheimer’s by 2020. That would simply be awesome. I also joined a subset of USAgainstAlzheimer’s called the African American Network Against Alzheimer’s. It was created because African Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as other groups and it is the 4th leading cause of death for older African Americans. I read ten articles on the disease, and current legislative efforts on Capitol Hill. I learned so much I didn’t know, and even forwarded a few articles to friends. 

I also committed today to give 50% of my book sales for this month to the National Alzheimer’s Association in honor of my mom. It’s been a great day, and I’m thrilled at how the month to honor my mom has begun. She would be proud.

Purple is the color of the National Alzheimer’s Association and the fight to end Alzheimer’s. So here i am in my light purple (also known as lavender) sweater thinking of the other activities I’ll do this month. Love you mom!!



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