My mother died with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in 1999 after many difficult years. My mother-in-law also died with Alzheimer’s in 1989 after 12 years of decline. Mary, then my wife of 48 years, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in Sep of 2001. What had been a wonderful life together became a nightmare. It was like starting life all over again, but with different rules. Dealing with numerous doctors, tests, medications, and Mary’s loss of ability to do even ordinary things and exploding with unheard-of behaviors turned life upside down. It was devastating to Mary, physically demanding and expensive – Alzheimer’s disease ended a wonderful life. This beautiful, talented, gracious, special lady just wasted away. Worse, perhaps, was the knowledge that 100 years after Dr. Alois Alzheimer defined Alzheimer’s disease there was and is no cure – nothing that even slows Alzheimer’s or helps much. It’s like falling into a bottomless pit with no escape. I walk to raise funds to find a cure and to raise awareness of this awful disease. I Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I walk because “One Day There Will Be A Cure”.
My Brain Matters – This movement to celebrate women’s brains is influenced and inspired by The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s. It calls on 1 million women to use their amazing brains to help wipe out Alzheimer’s disease. We need the power of each woman’s brain to help solve this problem — and to take action in the fight.
In September, the Alzheimer’s Association launched I Have Alzheimer’s Disease, a new 23-page section of alz.org. This robust site offers information and tools to empower a growing group of individuals living in the early stage of Alzheimer’s or another dementia to live their best life for as long as possible.
“The Association obtained input from people living in the early stage of the disease, including members of our Early-Stage Advisory Group. We found that individuals in this stage need to do more than learn about the disease. They want to know how others have handled receiving a diagnosis and what they are doing to lead a fulfilling life,” said Monica Moreno, director, early-stage initiatives, Alzheimer’s Association. These Web pages are designed to do exactly that and more.
The sentiment underlying I Have Alzheimer’s is simple: You are not alone. The Web section provides information and insights from real people living with the disease to help their peers move past the feeling of isolation and on to planning, preparing and receiving support.
“There’s a lot of information to digest after diagnosis. Some aspects can be difficult and we encourage users to take their time and learn at their own pace,” Moreno said. As changes occur, new questions will come up. And we’re here to answer them.
This year will be very different as I am walking in memory of my father, Robert W. Sexauer. For the past 10 years I have co-chaired the Yuk Yuk & Joe’s Restaurant Team with Kathleen Peirson on the Eastern Shore and walked in honor of my father with my dog, also known as his four-legged grandchild, Goggles. After each walk, I was able to go see him and tell him all about the Walk and how much money we raised. This year I cannot do that.