Lodi woman walks for seven family members with dementia
Research shows that those who have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop the disease. This is especially true for Jane Lopez who has seven family members who have had Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Because of this, Jane supports the Alzheimer’s Association® every way she can including participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®. Jane shares her story in her own words.
My name is Jane Lopez and in my case seven is not a lucky number!
Seven relatives on my dad’s side of the family have died from Alzheimer ’s disease or another dementia including my dad, his brother and their father, my grandfather.
When I was 16, I stayed with my grandparents for a week during summer vacation. On the first day I was there, I went with my grandfather to a putting green where they lived. We had a lot of fun, talking, putting and laughing! When we walked back to their house, my grandfather turned to me, shook my hand and said, “Thank you for playing with me. I don’t know who you are so you can go on home now.”
I was devastated and didn’t know how to respond. He always knew I was Jane, his oldest granddaughter, but not anymore. Needless to say that week was difficult. At that time, in the 1970’s, there was not a lot known about the disease or resources available to help communicate with and care for someone with dementia. My grandfather died in 1980.
Fast forward to 2013 and I experienced similar issues with my dad, but this time I had the support of the Alzheimer’s Association and friends who understood the disease. I educated myself by attending classes put on by the Association and downloaded material from the Association’s website (alz.org). I even called their 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900) a few times.
With the Association’s help, I became an advocate for my dad so that I could give him the best life possible. My dad and I had a lot of fun together throughout his journey with the disease as I better understood how to care for him. A favorite memory of my dad is that he was a great dancer and we danced together up until the last week before he died. He died in 2019.
During the time I cared for my dad, I got involved with Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Stockton and now serve as a volunteer on the Walk Committee. My Walk team is LeRoy’s Dance Troupe in honor of my dad. In April of 2023, I was honored to participate in California State advocacy day at the state capitol. I’m passionate about this cause as the disease runs in my family. I will continue to walk, volunteer and raise funds to find a cure for this dreaded disease.
You can join Jane’s team, LeRoy’s Dance Troupe, donate to Jane’s fundraising page or start your own team for Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Stockton on October 14. Not in Stockton? Find a Walk near you at alz.org/walk.