Home > Community Stories, Donate A Blog Post, Storytelling > Remember Alzheimer’s for #PGDOG

Remember Alzheimer’s for #PGDOG

I’d like to thank Kira Walters, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pennsylvania Chapter for providing information (in blue) about the Alzheimer’s Association.

Please remember to donate on Pittsburgh Gives annual Day of Giving- October 4, 2011 to support their mission to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

And while you’re thinking of all that mission does, let me share my personal story with you.

My maternal grandmother had Alzheimer’s.  We all knew it was happening as we watched her struggle to remember people, places, words, meanings. Before that?  She baked. She loved. She cared about us. And then, she forgot who she was and who the people were that loved her.

Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America without a way to prevent, cure, or even slow its progression.  Someone develops the disease every 69 seconds.

She ended up not recognizing my grandfather and used to yell at him to get out because she thought he was a stranger in her house. She would ask my uncle why he wouldn’t stay with her, because he looked like my grandfather did when he was younger. She combed her hair with a fork. She was confused and sometimes angry because she confused us.

Support Groups – The Chapter has 187 affiliated support groups throughout its territory, facilitated by trained individuals, which provide essential peer support and information sharing for caregivers and others dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.  The Chapter offers specialized groups for children and teens and individuals and families with early-onset and early-stage Alzheimer’s.

Note: There are 34 affiliated support groups in Allegheny County alone.

And yet, I would come home from college sometimes on the weekends and she would remember me- by name! (sometimes)- and say there’s my girl from Slippery Rock.  The family would look at me as if I grew two heads just because she remembered those current details about me.  She was calling her own daughters by other people’s names (not each others as we parents sometimes do) or straight out asking them who they were.

Education Programs & Conferences – Educational programs address a variety of topics for the general public, individuals with the disease and their families and health care and social services professionals.  Family Caregiver miniseries are held throughout the Chapter, free of charge, as well as community education programs.  Many of the professional educational programs offer continuing education (CE) or continuing medical education (CME) credits. 

Note:  The Family Caregiver miniseries is a four-part educational series offered to communities free of charge.  The four components of the series are as follows:

  • Overview of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
  • Communication and Behaviors
  • Legal Issues
  • End Stage Alzheimer’s disease

Each one of us kept coming back. She needed us. I had it easier since Grandma sometimes knew who I was. But, to watch the faces of my family as they cared for her, bathed her, did her hair to make her feel pretty, counted out her meds each week, tried to talk about us grandkids so she was still connected somehow; all while knowing that she had no memory of who they were, was heartbreaking. The strong, independent woman I’d admired had been replaced by someone who needed constant care and watchful eyes.

Living with Alzheimer’s disease or caring for someone who has it requires endurance, patience, love and strength — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We are here to help.      

Helpline – Our toll-free Helpline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in 140 languages.  Master’s level clinicians provide reliable information, support and crisis assistance to people with dementia, caregivers, health care professionals and the public.  1.800.272.3900

And yet, if you could get her talking about her kids when they were younger, she could tell you what each one of them was like.  If we could live in the past with her, you could renew the bond and connection with her. Because in the present, she was lost to us. Alzheimer’s had stolen the person she was.

Today, 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease – 5.2 million aged 65 and over; 200,000 with younger-onset Alzheimer’s.  There are an estimated 280,000 individuals with Alzheimer’s disease in Pennsylvania. 

Alzheimer’s is tough. My parents started Team Cruisin’ for a Cure. (they love their classic cars- and those are the ones that they will remember if, heaven forbid, they forget the present and become lost, too.)Using the Alzheimer’s Association website portal, which has a great social media kit for teams, we participate in the Walk To End Alzheimer’s so that we can promote awareness and fund raise through and for their organization.

About the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s:

The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer care, support and research.  Since 1989, the Alzheimer’s Association mobilized millions of Americans in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk®; now the Alzheimer’s Association is continuing to lead the way with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Pittsburgh Day of Giving is coming up on October 4th.  The Alzheimer’s Association- Greater Pennsylvania Chapter is on the list of Non-Profit’s you can donate to- and have your donation go further by being part of a match pool of funds specifically on that day. There are also other ways to get involved. Donate, walk, do something- in memory of someone you love. And so they will always remember you.

Donate

Make a tax-deductible donation to the Alzheimer’s Association and help fight Alzheimer’s disease through vital research and essential support programs and services.

Advocate

Join us and speak up for the needs and rights of people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.  Learn more at alz.org/advocacy.

Walk

Join the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research and Walk to End Alzheimer’s™.  Learn more at alz.org/walk.

Volunteer

Our volunteers are passionate, inspired and want to make a difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.  You can also volunteer to participate in a clinical trial.  Without clinical trials, there can be no new treatments or cures.

Champion

We’re asking 5 million individuals to sign up as Champions to represent each person living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States.  Sign up at alz.org/act.

When I remember my grandmother, it is how soft and warm she always felt. How we’d put on jeans and long-sleeved shirts in 90 degree weather just so she’d bake us a fresh blackberry or raspberry pie from the berries we picked. How she loved that I brought a book every time I came to her house and could finish it before I left. And how proud she looked the day of my high school graduation.

Grandparents on Graduation Day

Those are my best memories of my grandmother. But, I also know that we need to find a cure and help those families whose memories are clouded by this disease right now.

*Upcoming Event*

Walk to End Alzheimer’s Pittsburgh

Saturday, October 1, 2011 at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.  Registration begins at 7:30 a.m.  Walk begins at 9:00 a.m.

Like Alz.org on Facebook

Follow them on Twitter

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  1. September 29, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    Thank you for sharing why this particular organization and mission are so very important to you. I love this idea of local bloggers donating posts and tweets daily during the run up to the Pittsburgh Gives Annual Day of Giving – a bandwagon so very worthy of jumping on!

    • September 29, 2011 at 1:07 PM

      Michelle,
      When I offered a blog post a day for #PGDOG, I didn’t know who would actually take me up on it. But I have found I have a connection in some way to each one of them. The Alzheimer’s Association was definitely the most personal. There are 5 more posts to come at this point in time!
      I can only hope other bloggers do jump on the bandwagon and talk about the non-profit resources around them. I have to thank @PghFoundation for providing the seed in a tweet sent earlier in the week. That tweet about donating a post, tweet or facebook status update for PGDOG was the driving force in picking up the ball and doing this. Spread the word!

  2. September 29, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    Thanks for the wonderful, personal post. My maternal grandmother also had Alzheimer’s. Ovarian cancer took her before we “lost” her entirely, which was in a way a blessing. She didn’t recognize me in the end, but she still knew my grandpa and my mom. Thanks for helping raise awareness!

    • September 29, 2011 at 1:01 PM

      You’re welcome. Thanks for commenting! Those that haven’t gone through it have a hard time understanding the toll Alzheimer’s can take on a family. I was happy to help out and share a story for the Alzheimer’s Association and be able to place the facts so people know what their donations support!

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