Archive | October, 2016

Why I Walk Wednesday with JoAnne Coniglio

26 Oct

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His Voice

I am writing this on behalf of my brother Revell Milliner. He was often too shy to use his voice. He cannot speak today because a dementia-like illness took his life in 2007. His disease lasted about seven years. When we were children our parents often sent both
of us to the little country store down the street from our house to pick up necessary items like Maxwell House coffee. They knew he was too shy to ask for items by name, and they knew that his little sister was not too shy to say anything. They could count on him to patiently control his rambunctious little sister if she would just be his voice.

He was not always comfortable speaking but he could speak to nature with love and compassion like no one I have ever known. He frequently brought home injured animals that he found on the farm or in the woods. He was hunting and fishing at a young age. What I remember most about what he brought home from those hunting trips were injured animals . One was a fox that had been caught in a trap. He kept it in a cage in the back yard until its leg was healed enough to let it go back to the wild. I also remember the crow with the injured wing, that he nursed back to health. I’m sure that the same crow returned to our house often over the years.

As and adult he worked many long hours, but he was always happiest when he was out in nature. He spent many hours in his 3-acre garden raising the most delicious strawberries and Hayman potatoes. He even had a fox that would show up most nights to eat yogurt with strawberries that my brother would feed her from a spoon. Some of his favorite hobbies were to duck hunt, fish and clam in Metompkin Bay. He could talk for hours with his friends and family. One gift he gave our children was the gift of imagination. Fairies, Santa and any magical creature became alive in his vivid tales of their adventures. About mid-way through his illness we tried to take him out in his boat on Metompkin Bay, it was devastating to watch the fear in his eyes because he was so afraid of the trip. I held his hand and tried to help him remember the past.

We watched him lose the ability to work, to garden, to hunt, to fish and to key-hole clams like no other. We watched him lose the ability to speak even to his family and nature. We watched him lose the ability to take care of himself. I held his hand all day the day he died and told him it was all okay and that he would again be able to walk in nature again and breath in the salt air.

Just the other night I dreamed that my brother was still alive and getting healthier because there was a new drug that had been developed that could gradually reverse the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. I woke up with such excitement!!!

Two years ago, our daughter had a son and named him Revell. My hope and prayer is that through the work and support of the Alzheimer’s Association a drug will be developed in this young Revell’s lifetime.

I hope Revell’s voice speaks to us all to encourage us to support the Alzheimer’s Association and its work!

You can support the Alzheimer’s Association by donating to a Walk team or an individual walker by going to alz.org/walk 

Get more stories like these and up to date information on Alzheimer’s disease in your inbox by subscribing to the Alzheimer’s Association weekly E-News.

Why I Walk Wednesday with Becky Watson

19 Oct

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I’m very proud to walk in RHYTHM with my purple DRUMs during numerous Alzheimer’s Association  Southeastern Virginia Chapter Walks. These beautiful, light and inviting drums create JOY and SMILES with just a gentle tap of the finger or hands … anyone can play a drum!

Music – specifically rhythm – helps people with dementia reconnect in the present moment or environment. With our group music therapy programs for people living with dementia, rhythm is a primary intervention used to engage, energize, and empower.

I love walking and drumming during Alzheimer’s Association Walks because the cadence and rhythm invites others to join me, marching in step to the same beat, synchronicity and entertainment. Drumming also fosters a sense of playfulness or release of anger and tension. It can also help in decreasing social isolation and the building of positive relationships and connections.

It is always a pleasure and honor to find my own rhythm and serve older adults with dementia with energizing music therapy programs. Even though their brains are declining in cognitive functioning, they can still tap to a beat, dance, move and sing with such rhythms, zestenjoyment and laughter!

Join Becky Watson this weekend at the Williamsburg Walk register now.

Aces for Alzheimer’s

18 Oct

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Organizers, Austin Beale (L) and Alex Loope (R), members of the Norfolk Collegiate School’s tennis team, held Aces for Alzheimer’s, a doubles tennis tournament, at the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club this past Saturday, October fifteenth.

Alex was motivated to start this event after the loss of his grandfather to Alzheimer’s. Participants included students from Norfolk Collegiate School, Norfolk Academy, and Maury High School. In total, the event raised over a thousand dollars.

You can join Austin and Alex by registering and raising funds for The Longest Day.

Volunteer Spotlight: Theresa Davis

14 Oct

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Theresa has a long history with the Association – over 25 years.  She was one of the Chapter’s first executive directors, advocating and providing support for those with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers during the infancy of Alzheimer’s awareness.  When she decided to pursue a different career path in the health profession, she continued to be a dedicated volunteer, fundraiser, and champion for those we serve.  In fact, Theresa was recognized in 2004 as an Outstanding Volunteer.  For over the past 16 years, she has dedicated her time to being a support group co-facilitator in Norfolk, helping families cope with the daily challenges of the disease.  Her commitment to the mission of the Association is ever evident and steadfast.

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Why I Walk Wednesday with Amelia Erickson

12 Oct

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Earlier this year, my mother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 52.
I don’t think I’ll ever again feel the feeling that I did when I received the news. Just a simple phone call and my body went numb. I felt like the Earth had dropped from beneath me. There was no way that it was true. Eventually, it sank in, and now I am going to do what I can to help others who have experienced the same feeling.

The doctors said that my mother developed the disease sometime in her early 40’s. She raised two children, switched careers, and excelled at everyday life while this thing was trying to hold her back. It didn’t slow her down until 10 years later. Her struggle and my family’s fight are the reasons I am doing this walk. I have experienced what this disease does to a loved one, and it takes a toll on anyone to watch. My heart goes out to anyone caring for, or with this life-stealing thing that they call Alzheimer’s. No one deserves to be taken by this disease, and I want to help ensure that. God does everything for a reason, so I am going to make the most with the hand of cards that were dealt! I was lucky enough to have some great friends that pledged to help me, and when we walk on campus in October, we are walking for all of those who cant walk for themselves.

We are walking to end Alzheimer’s and I hope you guys join us for the cause.

Why I Walk Wednesday with Joan Stevens

4 Oct

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My husband Tom was a manager of Reynolds Metal in Phoenix Arizona. He had an easy nature, loved to play golf and after he retired would often play 18 holes in the morning and then again in the afternoon.

Our lives changed the day he went out to play golf and wasn’t able to find his way back home. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. That’s the last time he played. At the time I relied on a day center of folks with Alzheimers. It met from ten to two and gave me some much needed time. Tom then moved into a wonderful Alzheimers facility that had just been built. At that point, he had lost his ability to talk. I saw him three times a week and often we would just hold hands and spend time together. I will never forget the day he came up to me after I had arrived, looked into my eyes, put his hands on my cheeks and kissed my face all over. For that moment everything was as it was before the disease took the Tom I knew away.

I am grateful for all the support I received by those who knew about this disease. I remember my greatest insight was that when you look at someone with Alzheimers to never forget that there is something, someone there. I will walk in Tom’s memory.

Join me and Walk to End Alzheimer’s!