Why I Walk: Faith’s story

From another one of our passionate, committed walkers!

Me and Mom

Me and Mom

Thinking back and knowing what I know now, Mom was showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease about four years before she was diagnosed.

Maybe it started when Dad went from being a relatively healthy 83 year old to being in hospice then passing away all within nine months. Mom not only lost her husband of 52 years but her whole world changed. At that time she was a very active, vibrant woman who played cards and mah jong. She walked with her friends, packed backpacks for underprivileged school kids and wrote letters to our military personnel. She had a very social lifestyle and was always on the go.

She was 79 years old then but shortly after my father passed she told me she thought she might have what her father had when he was her age – dementia. Soon she didn’t want to be in social situations where she might be asked questions she couldn’t answer. She became reclusive and preferred to stay home watching her sports on TV or reading.

She was living in Southern California at the time. I sensed something wasn’t right, so my husband David and I went down for a visit. It was obvious to us things were horribly wrong. Mom had fallen but hadn’t told anyone she was hurt. She was admitted to the hospital with a fractured pelvis and weeks later moved to a convalescent home. When she was to be discharged she decided she couldn’t care for herself or her home and didn’t want to live alone. She wanted to stay in Southern California so we moved her to an assisted living facility. It was during this time she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Mom continued to “disappear” from her friends, preferring to keep to herself, not engaging in conversation or making decisions. Her friends came by less often to visit. After a year, she agreed to come north and move in with David and me. She has been with us since November 2012. She still reads, but it takes her a lot longer to get through a book and doesn’t always understand the story. She watches her ballgames and knows if her team is winning but can’t remember the players’ names. She still walks but tires easily. We go to the local senior center to exchange books at their library, go shopping and visit with family. Her Alzheimer’s continues to progress but she is much happier and more engaged.

Mom’s symptoms are still moderate but she can’t be left alone. I could not continue to work as a sales representative because of the amount of travel involved. I am a veterinary technician and spent the past 30 years in veterinary sales. I left that job in April of this year and now take care of mom full time. I have the satisfaction and joy of knowing that she is happier and has a much better quality of life. I recognize that I am fortunate to be able to do this for her although it has been very sad watching the changes. Thankfully, David has been so supportive and understanding. He gives me strength and courage! I have also found support through friends and by networking. There are many resources available for Caregivers in Sonoma County!

Last month 3 local ladies and I decided to honor our family members who have or have had the disease by forming a team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in October at Schollenberger Park in Petaluma. Our team name is the “Unforgettables” and we are raising donations and recruiting others to walk with us. We are also planning a fundraising event at  Apple & Pear Jamboree in Windsor Town Green on  Sunday, September 29 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.. We really want to make a difference!

The statistics are frightening. It is staggering to know that Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th cause of death in the US today yet there is no preventive, treatment or cure. If there isn’t more research done to understand this disease, someday very soon it will touch all of us by affecting someone we know or care about.

-Faith

Donate to Faith and her Team: Team Unforgettables

Or register for Walk today: Walk to End Alzheimer’s