On a Personal Note…(Meet our Early Stage Advisors)

The Alzheimer’s Association National Early Stage Advisory Group is made up of volunteers from across the country with an early stage Alzheimer’s diagnosis. They meet on a monthly basis to offer counsel on programs and services, act as spokespeople and advocate on behalf of people with early stage Alzheimer’s. This year, two of the newest members of the group – Chuck Warner and Cynthia Guzman – are from the Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter!

Chuck Warner

chuck and wifeI was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in January of 2012. The diagnosis dramatically and unexpectedly changed my life and the lives of my wife and children. Before my diagnosis, I had an active law practice. I enjoyed doing what I was doing and it had been good to me and my family. When I was diagnosed I was told “no more driving and no more practicing law.” We closed the law practice. I could not sell it because I could not stay another year or so to enable any transition to the new owner. We had to sell our dream house because we no longer had a steady source of income. As you can imagine, all of this was quite an adjustment.

The future is not pretty. My plan is to do the best I can with the time I have. In that regard, my interest since my diagnosis has been to become involved in the Alzheimer’s Association’s newsletters, meetings and about anything else I can do. I am told I have been helpful to them but believe me, it is also most helpful to me to be doing something positive. I really do not think I could have coped with all of this without the help of the Alzheimer’ Association.

Cynthia Guzman

CynthiaOn my 63rd birthday, I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As a nurse, I was willing to face this disease. However, the support and love of my family really enabled me to get the proper medical and financial help as I moved ahead in my treatment. In fact, my family has continued to help me deal with my needs. The following letter from my son shows that support:

Mom, I don’t want you to worry or be afraid. Let’s enjoy every single day and not think too much about whether you can remember as well as you could in the past. I will watch over you and won’t let anything bad happen to you. If the time comes when we need to do more for you, I will make sure you have everything you need to have a great quality of life, I wish I could change things. I wish I could take your illness for you but I can’t. All I can do is be there for you and love you.

I am most excited that with acceptance by both patient and their families, early diagnosis and documentation can lead to proper care of the patient immediately. In my case the medication has helped me live a more independent and normal life for today. Early diagnosis allows people like me to get into programs for public awareness, education and outreach. I am really proud to be accepted as an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association. I wear my pin every day so I can tell friends what it stands for and thus, create more awareness for the research going on today.

Helpful information related to this story

Watch Chuck Warner speak at Reason to Hope

Listen to Cynthia at Advocacy Day