Why I Walk With Diana Lumley

18 Oct

Why I Walk Wednesday- Diana Lumley

My first connection with Alzheimer’s was with my maternal grandmother.  My grandmother passed away in 1996 at the age of 82 after having the disease for 7 years.  I was working in Northern Virginia at the time and only made it to the Shore 3-4 times a year, but I became very familiar with the disease.  The repeated conversations over and over and over again. Grandma not knowing who anyone was or where she was living.  Her primary caregivers were my grandfather, his sister, and my mother.  Due to my Grandmothers illness, my mother and I had many conversations about what we would want to be done for us should we also be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  My mother always told me that she did not want me to have to care for her 24 hours a day should she become like her mother.

My mom, Barbara, made a modest living but she saved, invested wisely and planned for a future with the possibility of Alzheimer’s.  Barbara purchased long-term health care coverage for her lifetime and the inflation waiver offered on the policy.  Mom had a medical/ financial power of attorney, living will and her assets put into a trust.  Mom made sure I had a key to her safety deposit box and knew where all of her important papers were.  Even with the experience with my Grandmother, all the talks with mom, all the preparations that my mother made, it was still overwhelming when it happened.  Our whole lives changed on Wednesday, October 30, 2013.

In the spring of 2013, mom had been diagnosed with a form of dementia called Picks.  Mom had been declining. She had small traffic accidents, so we got her to stop driving. She could not figure out which burner to turn off on the stove or how to put on pantyhose.  The week prior to October 30, mom became almost loopy, losing her balance seeming confused and on October 30 her partner could barely get her out of bed and mom could not figure out how to dress.  Mom’s partner, Wayne, called the doctor and they said to take her to the emergency room.  From that day on mother never walked on her own again.  Mom was admitted to the hospital and stayed there a week.  Mom had a severe UTI, urinary tract infection.  Between the UTI and her dementia, she could no longer walk, write her own name,  have a conversation or tell you her birthday.  I thought the disease would progress slowly like it had been and we would have time to adjust and make decisions, but overnight my world, my mother’s world all changed.

Mom was in the hospital a week and the doctor told me she could not go home. She would need to go to rehab and have around the clock care.  Thankfully I have wonderful friends and family that came to my aid and helped me find the Hermitage. Mom moved into the skilled care side on November 2, 2013, after being in the hospital for a week.  I thought she would be able to move to assisted living, but that was not to be. I was away from my job for two weeks, one week with mom in the hospital and one week making sure she was settled at the Hermitage.  I went back home to Ashburn, VA, did my one hour and fifteen-minute commute each way to Alexandria, worked my 12 hour day, I work retail, and all I kept thinking about was my mom.  I went home that night and thought, I can’t do this,  I need to be with my mother.  I went to work the next day and resigned.  I came to the Shore every week and in the spring I put my house on the market.  I sold the house in June and moved to Parksley in July and that was three years ago.

I visit mom every day.  I help feed her, brush her teeth, comb her hair, wash her face, put on her lipstick, keep her nails painted, and entertain her.  Since 2013 mom has lost almost all of her language skills (she was voted most talkative in her senior class in high school), no longer feeds herself, and can not do anything for herself.  The one thing that mom can still do is laugh and smile.  My mother always said, “when I get up in the morning, I put my feet on the floor and I choose to be cheerful”.  I am very blessed that while mom has lost so much of herself, she is still cheerful. I walk in honor of my mom and in the hopes that one day we may have a first survivor of Alzheimer’s disease.

Diana Lumley
Hermitage Hummingbirds 
Eastern Shore Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Why I Walk with Tiffany Elston

11 Oct

Why I Walk Wednesday- Tiffany Elston

I walk in honor of my mom, who was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s three years ago at the age of 49.

I walk in support of my dad and other caregivers out there that give so much of their time to care for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia.

I walk in memory of all those who have lost their battle with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, including my Grandma Tink.

And I walk to show our commitment to the cause and help in raising funds for the much-needed research, in hopes that one day there is a cure.

Alzheimer’s knows no bounds and everyone is at risk! The Walk helps you realize you are not alone and together we can make a difference.

Tiffany Elston
Team Captain, Dee Dee’s Angels
Peninsula Walk

October Volunteer Spotlight: Tim Pandajis

10 Oct

VolunteerSpotlight - Tim Pandajis.png

Congratulations to our October Volunteer of the Month, Tim Pandajis. Tim Pandajis is the Daybreak meteorologist at 13News Now, the ABC affiliate in Norfolk, VA and a friend to the Alzheimer’s Association for many years now. Most recently, Tim was the emcee at the Coastal Virginia Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Tim has a personal connection to Alzheimer’s as so many of our volunteers do; his grandmother, Christine Anastasion suffered from the disease that led to her passing in 2010. He watched as precious memories were stolen from her one by one and her family became strangers. He shared that it wasn’t just his grandmother who suffered, it was the entire family. The feeling of helplessness set in early on as they watched the disease envelop all their lives.

Tim is from Connecticut. He is one of the most passionate meteorologists in the field; you can definitely tell watching him that he loves what he does. He holds the distinguished Certified Broadcast Meteorologist seal from the American Meteorological Society and earned his B.S. degree in Meteorology from Western Connecticut State University. Picking up and leaving town after graduation to chase his dream of being a television meteorologist took him to Hagerstown, Maryland where he landed his first position. From there he moved on to Richmond, VA where he met his amazing wife, Martha. They were married in May of 2016 before moving to Chesapeake where they currently live. Martha and her family also share the connection to Alzheimer’s disease; Martha’s grandfather suffered from it when she was a child.

Tim and Martha are huge animal lovers and have 3 dogs, one of which, Bentley the golden retriever, you may have seen joining Tim at the TV station some mornings. Together, Tim and his wife love to volunteer and help in the community they now call home. Working with the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Virginia, they hope to continue increasing awareness so one day soon we will have our first of many survivors.

Click here to view Tim’s Why I Walk story!

Why I Walk with Stephen Opitz

20 Sep

 

Why I Walk Wednesday_StephenOpitz

Pictured above is Stephen Opitz’s Grandfather, Robert Painter.

 

I’m walking in honor and memory of my grandfather to help reclaim the future for millions. My grandfather was a brilliant man who unfortunately lost his battle with Alzheimer’s four years ago this July. By participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, I’m committed to raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research, care and support so we can find a cure and stop losing so many amazing people to this terrible disease.

Currently, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s and that number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050. Our future is at risk unless we can find a way to change the course of this disease.

I need your support to do my part! Please join me and other Princess Anne High School students, families, and friends and walk in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on the Va Beach Boardwalk on Saturday, September 23, 2017. If you are able, PLEASE make a donation to help the Alzheimer’s Association advance research into methods of treatment, prevention and, ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s.  For the millions already affected by the disease, the Association offers care, education, support and resources in communities nationwide.

Stephen Opitz
Team Captain, PAHS Brain Trust
Coastal Virginia Walk

Volunteer Spotlight: Paul F. Aravich, Ph.D.

19 Sep

VolunteerSpotlight - Paul Aravich.png

Paul F. Aravich, Ph.D. is a behavioral neuroscientist at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk and a great friend of the Southeastern Virginia Chapter. He is a professor of Pathology and Anatomy; of Geriatrics, and of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Aravich often lends his expertise to chapter events, eager to share his extensive knowledge of the brain. Most recently you may have heard Dr. Aravich at our Day for Caregivers conferences back in June where he provided a brain demonstration to attendees during breaks from the seminars. Dr. Aravich has so much compassion for those with brain injuries and disorders and has dedicated his career to finding answers and teaching others about the brain. He believes educating the public is vitally important so they can take a more active part in advocating for legislation to support neuroscience initiatives that affect public health.

His honors include one of the highest awards for medical education in the US and Canada; Virginia’s highest faculty award for research, teaching, and service; 5 Virginia Gubernatorial citations related to public education and guardianship; and election into the Gold Humanism Honor Society. He is also on a member of regional.state boards related to behavioral health, TBI, guardianship, and dementia. He headed the Virginia Brain Injury Council and its first position paper on the neurobehavioral complications of brain injury. Dr. Aravich has given Congressional presentations on the epidemic of fatal behavioral health disorders to a program sponsored by the Congressional Public Health Caucus, on art and the brain to both the House and the Senate, and on traumatic brain injury to a program sponsored by the Congressional Brain Injury Taskforce.

Dr. Aravich has numerous publications and presentations and is interested in the cognitive and emotional consequences of various behavioral health disorders; positive behavioral controls for challenging behaviors; caregiver stress; Wounded Warriors; successful aging; the arts and medicine; and health care policy.

We are so lucky to have Dr. Aravich as a great friend to the chapter and long-time volunteer! If you have not yet heard Dr. Aravich present, please check out his TEDxNASA presentation “The Universe Between Your Ears” here! 

If you are interested in volunteering with our chapter, you can learn more information on our website at http://www.alz.org/seva/in_my_community_104988.asp

Why I Walk with Paula Amburgey

6 Sep

 

Why I Walk Wednesday- Paula

Paula with her grandmother, Nadia Hansin

 

I’m walking to help reclaim the future for millions. In February, I lost my grandmother, Nadia Hansin. By participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, I’m committed to raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research, care, and support.

Several years ago, my grandmother developed Alzheimer’s and she moved in with us. As a high school student, I took on a huge responsibility of making her comfortable during her most needed times. I helped during her hardest times where she needed assistance to eat and change. But the good times we spent together outweigh the bad times. She enjoyed getting flowers, eating sweets, and watching TV. My grandmother fought the illness whenever she could and had a strong backbone that consisted of her family and her caretakers.

This year I want to honor her memory. I hope you will join me by making a donation or joining a walk near you.

Paula Amburgey
Farmville Walk 

Why I Walk with Marcie McMillin

30 Aug

 

Why I Walk Wednesday- Marcie McMillin

Marcie McMillin’s parents on their wedding day.

 

I’m walking to help reclaim the future for millions. By participating in the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s, I’m committed to raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer research, care, and support.

Our future is at risk unless we can find a way to change the course of this disease.

I lost my Mom Betty Ruth Pickler to this disease in 2006 after 18 years of suffering. My dad is 95 years old and misses her every day.

I am raising money so that I am the last generation that will ever have to witness a loved one be taken one memory at a time.

Marcie McMillin
Board Emeritus and Team Captain of Betsy’s Boopers
Coastal Virginia Walk