Why I Walk: Terri Simmons Has Faith Someone Always Comes Through

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Terri Simmons, volunteer extraordinaire, was a participant in the Stockton Walk to End Alzheimer’s last weekend. She also serves on the Stockton Walk volunteer committee, is Legislative Ambassador for Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, and attends the Alzheimer’s Association Forum in D.C. every year.

Terri lost her mother, stepfather, and both grandparents to Alzheimer’s disease. We asked Terri to share her story with us, and she talked a lot about how someone always comes through.

Tell us about your Mom’s life.
She had her own home about 45 minutes from our house and was very independent.  She served on a church mission for a year in Missouri and at the age of 71 learned how to use a computer. She was a bookkeeper by trade and a very smart business woman. She had traveled to 65 countries before she got sick.

How did Alzheimer’s impact things for the family?
After she got sick, I wanted to do everything we possibly could to make sure she was able to do the same things as before. I wanted her to travel still. I took her to Graceland, San Francisco, Yosemite… we would book a timeshare and away we go!

She was in the middle stages while we traveled, so it took the whole family to go anywhere, Everyone had their job. My brother would take care of the wheelchair, I would drive.

I’m a hairdresser by trade, and I always wanted her to look nice. She couldn’t tie shoes, buckle, snap, or button anything. At Macy’s I could go find a clerk, tell her what I need, and that clerk would go find whatever I wanted while we stationed ourselves in the dressing room. It’s amazing where you find people who will help you, give you what you need.

What are/were the biggest challenges you faced?
The greatest obstacle was having to get conservatorship of her. I was trying to find a place for her to live because I could not keep her safe at my home. She had the funds to pay for care – but I could not arrange that until I had conservatorship. I found a facility that would take her, even though I couldn’t pay them. She stayed there for 3 months without them getting paid a dime. He was another one of those people who came through for me. Someone always comes through.

You do so much for the cause. Why?
This is a horrible disease that will bankrupt our country if we do not find a cure. I took care of my mom before she died, but now my job is to share information.

After my Mom was diagnosed with dementia, I was sent on my way. I had no information about what websites to go to, who to call. When you are dealing with the courts, trying to find a place, it is so overwhelming. People don’t even know the Alzheimer’s Association is out there for them.

What else do you want to tell people about your journey?
Never, ever give up hope. There are so many people out there, you are not alone. Someone always comes through.

It doesn’t have to be something huge, it really doesn’t.

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