Alzheimer’s Disease is an issue that’s very near and dear to my heart- I lost my sweet grandpa to this cruel disease just this January and now I'm watching my family lose my great grandfather to the same disease.
A lot of you who are reading this have probably been affected by this devastating disease as well! There are over 5 MILLION People in the United States over 65 years old who suffer from Alzheimer's.
What's even crazier? Friends and families that are caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's are providing an estimated 17.9 Billion Hours of unpaid care- a contribution that's valued at $217 billion. Of those caregivers, 250,000 are minors between the ages of 8-18. This disease is taking a toll on more than just our parents' generation, it's affecting ours and generations to come.
Since November is National Alzheimer’s and Dementia Awareness month (NADAM) - fun fact, President Ronald Reagan designated this in 1983! - the Alzheimer’s Association is asking people to honor a caregiver that they know by posting on the message board on their website.
(If you know someone who deserves to be honored as a caregiver, post about them here!) http://www.alz.org/honor/honor.asp
The Alzheimer’s Association shifted the focus of November’s Awareness purposes to also include Caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer’s. The purpose of the message board is to honor someone in your life that you know is a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s-
Caregiving is one of the most selfless things, I think, that anyone can do for someone they love. Caregiving is giving up your time, your money, your energy- all so that the person you love can have the best quality of life possible.
But being a caregiver is also a lifelong role. My mom was my grandfather's caregiver until he lost his battle with Alzheimer's, but to me, she is still a caregiver. She still participates in the Walk To End Alz. She still donates regularly to the Alzheimer's Association. She still visits grandpa's friends in his retirement home. She is still a caregiver even though grandpa is gone. My mom cares for the future of Alzheimer's. She cares so that there is no future for Alzheimer's and that it is wiped out completely. She cares so that even though the gene for Alzheimer's runs in our family, that my sister and I will not one day suffer from this horrible disease. My mom is a lifelong caregiver.
Here's to you, caregivers. Thank you for taking care of those who can't care for themselves. Thank you for the sleepless nights, the countless hours, the stress, the worry, the happy times and the sad times. Thank you for all you do. Though they may not always be able to express it, the ones you care for appreciate it more than you know.
Below is my post- about my mom. (which you can find here: http://www.alz.org/honor/honor.asp)
My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease when I was 8 years old; until he passed away this January, my mom cared for him every single day.
She took care of him despite becoming the CEO of a small business, caring for a family, and having two children in school. When she saw how severe his symptoms were, she moved my grandfather from Phoenix, Arizona all the way to Memphis, Tennessee.
She sold her childhood home; she took control of all of his assets and responsibly managed his finances since he wasn't capable of doing so himself. She looked at every single retirement and assisted living home in the county. She toured every single one and looked at every detail of each facility until she found the best home for my grandpa. She knew that even though she couldn't be there for him every hour of every day, that she would find the best possible nurses and doctors to be there for him when she couldn't.
Despite all of her responsibilities, she always found time to spend with her father. Even if it was just for a few hours once a week after work, she always came for him. She made sure he always had clean clothes to wear and his favorites sheets and blankets on his bed. Mom always made sure he had pictures of his loved ones in his room, even if he didn't know who they were, at times.
She would bring him his favorite burger from Wendy's with a milkshake whenever she visited on the weekends- he loved junk food and sweets and she would go out of her way to make sure he still had some of his favorite things when he wanted them.
Mom took care of grandpa's dog, Curley, when grandpa wasn't able to care for his dog himself. (She still does- Curley is still running around our house today!) She always brought the dog to visit grandpa and made sure that he was bathed, had his shots, and paperwork in order so that grandpa could see him when he wanted.
But she didn't just go and spend time with grandpa only- she visited with his roommate and his family. She would visit his neighbors, and see if they needed anything at all, and she never hesitated to make sure their needs were met.
My mom is the most selfless person I've ever known. She gave her everything to make sure my grandfather was taken care of, every single day of his life. She didn't just make sure that he was surviving and making it day to day- she made sure that grandpa was HAPPY and thriving, and knew that she would be there for him no matter what.
My mom was for my grandpa, what he couldn't be for himself.
She was his voice.
She was his advocate.
She was his hope.
She was his caregiver.
My mom was and is the most amazing caregiver.
She is strong, she is beautiful, and she is resilient.
She instilled in my family and I, a passion to care for people suffering from this disease and to help them and to fight for a cure.
My mother is an inspiration.
My mother was a caregiver for my grandpa who lost his battle to Alzheimer's Disease.
She's still a caregiver now.
I hope that one day I can be to others the inspiration she is to me.
I love you mom.