Make a Special Tribute to a Loved One with Alzheimer’s – or to a Caregiver

Even though our loved ones afflicted by Alzheimer’s may have passed, we will never forget how much they meant to us. One way to pay tribute to that special person is to display their image on the Promise Garden Tribute Wall at the 2016 Denver Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

This year for the very first time, the Colorado Chapter’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s event on Saturday, Sept. 17, will feature a 16-foot-wide by 9-foot-high Jumbotron screen, which will show live images from the Walk as well as tributes to our loved ones.

The Tribute Wall will be prominently displayed on the Jumbotron screen at City Park, with each image broadcast at least three times during the Walk. After the Denver Walk is completed, the Tribute Wall images will be shown throughout the year on the Colorado Chapter’s website: www.alz.org/co.tribute wall blog image - rider

In addition to honoring those with Alzheimer’s, the Tribute Wall also can be used to recognize caregivers who make supreme personal sacrifices. The donations support the Colorado Chapter’s ongoing care and support services that are offered at no charge throughout the state, as well as educational programs and research to find a cure.

Make a personal sponsorship or join with family and friends to recognize your loved one. To learn more about the Promise Garden Tribute Wall, or make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado, click here.

Honoring My Parents

Kristen Beatty

Everyone impacted by Alzheimer’s has an amazing and touching story. My friend Marty, whose family also lives with this disease, very eloquently stated a wish that I share: that someday soon our kids will talk about Alzheimer’s the way we talk about polio – a disease that is all but gone due to the advances of science.

My Family

Blog photo.  Ray Rider, Sue Rider, Kristen Beatty, Brian BeattyMy story is also one of love. It is not only about my father currently living with Alzheimer’s, but the amazing caregiver that my mother was for him.

My father, Ray, was in the United States Air Force for 30 years. He was a fighter pilot – full of life – and considered himself lucky to be entrusted to defend our country by flying the F-100, F-4 and ultimately the F-16. He served in Vietnam, and never speaks of the experience.

The true hero of this 30-year story, though, is my mom, Sue. If you’ve ever read anything about military wives, you know the stamina, love and intention it takes to manage a household, move every two years (for some), make new friends, support other wives, and hold it together when your military husband is away often. She was loved deeply by her peers and by me and my brother for her joyful spirit and great advice.

At their 50th wedding anniversary, my mom shared great stories of their travels, adventures and friends. We’d lived in Europe for over 10 years, and she said we’d moved 26 times since they’d been married! Their grandkids called her “Super Nana” because she was indeed super-human, and always there with everything we needed, all while caring for my dad.

Our Journey

My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s sometime in his 60s. My brother and I didn’t know for a while because my mom always kept it together and didn’t want to worry us. Even after we did find out, it didn’t seem to be so bad because my mom made everything seem effortless. She put up a good front to make everything appear “handled” and “not that bad.”

On November 10, 2012, my mom passed away unexpectedly. They said it was from heart failure. I agreed that her heart did fail – she died of a broken heart. Once she was gone and not there to make “everything alright,” we realized just how bad my dad’s condition was – the anger, the paranoia, the confusion and the onslaught of questions that he must’ve asked my mom over and over every day.

My Promise Flower Dedication

I am actively involved in the Alzheimer’s Association, volunteer at many events and even co-chair the Denver Walk to End Alzheimer’s volunteer committee.
As much money as I raise, and as hard as I work to get the word out for advocacy and change to support research to end this disease, it never seems like enough.tribute wall blog image - rider

I am so happy to have the chance to make a significant donation to support the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado in their names, and place my mom and dad up on the Promise Garden Tribute Wall. My parents raised me to take action, and this is a perfect way to do that and honor both of them.

About the author:

Kristen Beatty is the co-chair of the Denver 2016 Walk to End Alzheimer’s Volunteer Committee, and the director of business development at Webolutions. Kristen is a proud graduate of the University of Denver, and has lived in Denver most of her adult life. She currently resides in Centennial with her husband, Brian, and their two children. Kristen and her brother, Doug, work together with their families to care for her father living with the disease.

Make a Special Tribute to a Loved One with Alzheimer’s – Whether You Walk or Not

Individuals who have lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s – or may know someone who is currently dealing with the challenges of the disease – have the opportunity to make a special tribute to that person at the 2016 Denver Walk to End Alzheimer’s, even if you won’t be able to participate in the annual Walk.

This year for the very first time, the Colorado Chapter’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s event on Saturday, Sept. 17, will feature a 16-foot-wide by 9-foot-high Jumbotron screen, which will show live images from the Walk as well as tributes on the new Promise Garden Tribute Wall.

A complement to the thousands of Promise Flowers that are raised annually at the Walk, the Tribute Wall will feature photos of loved ones who have experienced Alzheimer’s. The Tribute Wall will be prominently displayed on the Jumbotron screen at City Park, with each image broadcast at least three times during the Walk.

After the Denver Walk is completed, the Tribute Wall images will be shown throughout the year on the Colorado Chapter’s website: www.alz.org/co.

The new Promise Garden Tribute Wall offers families that have personally experienced Alzheimer’s the opportunity to honor their loved one while supporting the Colorado Chapter’s ongoing care and support services that are offered at no cost throughout the state, as well as educational programs and research to find a cure.

Each tribute will include the name and photo of the individual, as well as the corresponding Alzheimer’s Promise Flower of the person making the tribute:

  • Blue for an individual with Alzheimer’s
  • Yellow for a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s
  • Purple for an individual who has lost someone to Alzheimer’s
  •  Orange for an advocate for a world without Alzheimer’s

Learn more about the Promise Garden Tribute Wall, or make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado and secure your personal tribute to your loved one>>>

The Longest Day Volunteer Lia Jones – Color Her Motivated

On June 20, Denver marriage and family therapist Lia Jones will spend the day coloring.  It’s not a new form of therapy. It’s her way of paying tribute to her 84-year-old mother, Nelly, who is dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, and has found a measure of pleasure and refuge from the disease through art.

Along with five other volunteers on her Color My World team, Jones is participating in the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado’s The Longest Day program to raise funds to support Alzheimer’s education, services and research, and to pay tribute to those like Nelly who daily deal with the challenges posed by the disease.

Through her education, Jones knows there is only so much she can do to counter the toll that Alzheimer’s is having on her mother.

“The smart, quick, creative woman with dancing feet of fire was struggling to process things we take for granted as simple, everyday parts of life,” said Jones of her mother. It was at that point that Jones realized she needed to help her parents relocate to a senior living residence.

When the disease robbed Nelly of the ability to enjoy reading, daughter Lia turned to art.  About five months ago, she bought her mother a coloring book, and the change was immediate.

“She loves it,” said Jones. “It was so helpful to my mom. She spends much of her day surrounded by her colorful pencils and beautiful coloring books.”

Her mother’s discovery of the joys of art inspired Jones to assemble the Color My World team for The Longest Day event with five friends, who will participate in a dawn-to-dusk coloring relay, each coloring during a designated portion of the day.  At sunset, the team will gather for a barbecue dinner to share their art and stories. Due to the generosity of donors, Jones’ team already has exceeded its personal fundraising goal of $4,160.

“What a great way to spend the day, joining her (Nelly) in spirit and in action, creating a more colorful world,” said Jones.

But Jones didn’t stop there.  She also is helping raise donations for a Longest Day event at her parents’ new home, The Residence at Timber Pines in Spring Hill, Florida, where residents and staff there will be participating in their own events to raise funds for the fight to end Alzheimer’s. Her Dad will also be physically participating in the events at The Residences throughout their event day.

“When it comes to Alzheimer’s, it’s a new concept for many people to consider because we’re all living longer,” said Jones.  “It has become an epidemic, and it’s something with which we all need to be concerned.  We all know someone affected by Alzheimer’s.”

Education, Training May Help Nursing Home Challenges with Persons with Alzheimer’s

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By Amelia Schafer, Vice President of Programs, Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado

News reports documenting the eviction of some challenging residents from nursing homes point up an issue that has been vexing health care professionals, residents and families for some time: how to adapt health care practices to an aging society that is showing an increasing incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Nursing home staff are facing the same challenge that we are seeing with the police, first responders, ambulance crews and emergency room personnel. The traditional training given to these healthcare professionals, like that given to first or emergency responders, is not one-size-fits-all.  Persons with Alzheimer’s and other dementias may not respond to these situations in the way one expects, which can lead to conflicts and, unfortunately, residents in need being removed from nursing homes.

Recent press reports have outlined how thinly staffed nursing homes have, on occasion, involuntarily discharged or evicted individuals who are seen as labor-intensive or whose dementia has led to behavior considered a risk to others.

The Alzheimer’s Association has funded research on these “behavioral and psychotic symptoms of dementia” or BPSD, and found that more than 90 percent of people with dementia develop at least one BPSD, which may include depression, hallucinations, delusions, aggression, agitation and wandering.

Since more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s – a number expected to top 16 million by 2050 – cases of BPSD will increase correspondingly.  Thus, by 2050 the number of Americans exhibiting BPSD could near 14.4 million, straining the nursing home industry with both sheer numbers and an exploding incidence of dementia-related behaviors.

The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado (AAC) has been focused on this issue, providing specialized training to adult day care centers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, in-home care businesses and hospices.  The Leaders in Dementia Care curriculum helps professional staff better understand Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, learn communications techniques and approaches to interaction, and help develop non-pharmaceutical interventions to reduce agitation among persons receiving care.

More than 80 care communities around the state have chosen to go above and beyond – both in staff training as well as client care – by participating in Leaders in Dementia Care, but that’s just a fraction of the senior care organizations in the state.  There is still a substantial void to be filled.

The AAC is hoping to increase the progress against this challenge through a grant to develop “Person-Centered Dementia Care: Reducing Anxiety and Agitation to Improve Well-Being.”  If approved, the grant would enable AAC to provide at no cost customized training and consultation to staff as well as families of clients at six skilled care communities in the Denver area on a trial basis.

By promoting the utilization of a consistent, non-pharmacological process to address behaviors such as agitation and anxiety associated with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, it is expected that the program will further improve the well-being of residents as well as care community staff.

Like the Leaders in Dementia Care program, the goal here is to help nursing home staff recognize common triggers for behaviors associated with dementia. If we can eliminate the triggers, in many cases we can reduce or eliminate the behaviors. By doing that, we could help these individuals with dementia stay in their nursing homes and, hopefully, reduce the use of antipsychotic medications that are used to manage the “difficult” patients.

A Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) report found that almost 40 percent of nursing home patients with signs of dementia were receiving antipsychotic drugs at some point in 2010, even though there was no diagnosis of psychosis.

And the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that treatment of behavioral disorders in elderly persons with dementia by antipsychotic medications was associated with increased mortality.

“Managing dementia without relying on medication can help improve the quality of life for these residents,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, CMS chief medical officer and director of clinical standards and quality.

We frequently hear from nursing home staff that they are frustrated by the inability to change residents’ behaviors at their care communities. By helping nursing home personnel recognize these behavioral triggers, we believe it will give staff better skills and techniques to prevent or manage the behaviors. It can lead to modifications in routines, practices and sometimes even the environments in which care is provided.  Ultimately, it can enhance the relationships between staff and residents and improve the satisfaction of both parties.

Mrs. Annabel Bowlen to Cut the Opening Ceremony Ribbon at Denver Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Mrs. Annabel Bowlen cutting the ribbon at the 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer's

Mrs. Annabel Bowlen cutting the ribbon at the 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Mrs. Annabel Bowlen, Captain of Team Super Bowlen, will join more than 10,000 Denver residents to unite in a movement to reclaim the future for millions at the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s® . Team Super Bowlen was among the Top 10 National Walk to End Alzheimer’s Fundraising Teams in 2014. Broncos fans are invited to show support by joining and donating to Team Super Bowlen for the September 19 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Denver City Park.

“I like being part of the Walk so we can all come together in unity to raise awareness for this dreadful disease that is plaguing our community and our nation. The fact of the matter is, we all know someone with Alzheimer’s.” –Mrs. Annabel Bowlen

Walk participants will honor those affected by Alzheimer’s disease with the poignant Promise Garden ceremony led by Beth Bowlen Wallace immediately before the Ribbon Cutting. In 2014 the Denver Walk was the fourth largest in the country raising more than one million dollars for care, support and research efforts for those impacted by Alzheimer’s

Denver Walk to End Alzheimer's.

Crowd at the 2014 Denver Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Oh Say Can You Sing to End Alzheimer’s

The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado is proud to announce Oh Say Can You Sing to End Alzheimer’s, a talent search for a volunteer vocalist to sing the National Anthem at the 2015 Denver Walk to End Alzheimer’s. More than 10,000 Coloradans are expected to walk the morning of September 19 at Denver City Park to raise awareness and funds to end Alzheimer’s.

Oh Say Can You Sing to End Alzheimer’s, a talent search for a volunteer vocalist to sing the National Anthem at the 2015 Denver Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Oh Say Can You Sing to End Alzheimer’s, a talent search for a volunteer vocalist to sing the National Anthem at the 2015 Denver Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
The 2014 Denver Walk to End Alzheimer’s was the fourth largest in the United States and raised more than one million dollars to advance research and provide support to the more than 65,000 Coloradans living with the Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

To audition for this high profile performance opportunity, please submit a YouTube video of you singing the national anthem a cappella to Jordan Ambron, jambron@alz.org, by Noon MTN on August 26, 2015.


The winner must be available to arrive at Denver City Park no later than 8:00 am the morning of Saturday, September 19 to perform at the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The winner will be announced on September 8, 2015.

Win A Pair of Broncos Suite Tickets

BroncosPreSeasonSuiteTickets.jpg

The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado, a proud Denver Broncos Community Partner, will give away 10 pairs of tickets to the Denver Broncos vs. San Francisco 49ers preseason game on August 29, 2015. The seats are located in Suite 418 and include complimentary food and non alcoholic beverage. The Alzheimer’s Association encourages all Coloradans to register for one of the twelve statewide Walk to End Alzheimer’s events. To be eligible, one must:

Ten lucky people will be randomly selected on August 19, 2015 to receive two tickets to the Broncos vs 49ers preseason game. To be eligible you must raise a minimum of $500 as an individual Walk to End Alzheimer’s participant before 11:59 pm on August 18, 2015, and enter your information through this website.

*The $500 must be posted to your online participant page by 11:59 pm on August 18, 2015. Please note that cash and checks received by the Alzheimer’s Association may take up to seven days to post to your online account after being received at our Denver office. All registrations will automatically subscribe to the complimentary email newsletter of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado.

Getting Sweaty for Rick and Betty

I am very happy to share my Walk to End Alzheimer’s story, it is actually one that was well talked about 6 years ago. My husband and I got married the day before the WALK in 2009. We had our entire wedding party get up early the day after and walk with us in honor of my father-in-law and in memory of my grandmother.

 Walk to End Alzheimer's Team

Our 2009 Walk to End Alzheimer’s Team.

I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer’s in 2006, she was residing in Oklahoma at the time of her death. It was extremely hard for all of us to watch what she went through the last couple years of her life. Just a month before her death, I met my husband! Even though we had only been seeing each other for a month, he drove out to Iowa with me for the funeral. I knew then he was a keeper!!🙂

In 2007 my father-in-law was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, he was only 53 at the time. I have never seen anyone effected as fast as he was. We didn’t get to see him often as he lived in Northern California, but when we did it was so hard for my husband to see how much his father had changed.

In 2009, my husband and I were getting preparations ready for our wedding. We had our date set, September 18th, a Friday. People wondered why we didn’t choose the Saturday, well, that’s because of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. We wanted to make sure we participated. My father-in-law was not going to make it out for the wedding, his doctor’s did not think that the trip would be good for him. It was very hard to deal with that all the way up to the wedding, my husband kept wishing that his dad could be there.

Rick and my husband.

Rick and my husband a few days before our wedding.

It’s now the Wednesday before our wedding, a car pulls up to our driveway. My husband notices that there’s too many people in the car. He opens the front door and out of the car comes his dad! You could probably imagine my husband’s shock and surprise! His aunt was able to get him out to Denver for our wedding!! It truly was a blessing, we were able to get great pictures of the entire family, my husband got to share that day with his dad. Then, his dad walked with us at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s the next day. We couldn’t have asked for anything more!

 

Fast forward to Summer of 2010. We’re pregnant!! I’m due on December 7th, we don’t know what we’re having. We get a call from California. My husband’s dad is not doing well at all. He’s in the hospital and they don’t know how long he has. We didn’t hesitate, we got off work that day, jumped in the car and drove straight for 18 hours to California. Which, as you can imagine, being 5 months pregnant was not much fun to do. His dad ended up making it through several days, nothing was changing in his condition though. I had to get back to Denver as did my husband, we were due to find out the sex of our baby in three days.

Before we left California, knowing that his dad only had days left, we told the family that if we are having a boy, we want to name him after my father-in-law. Everyone was touched at our gesture. Two days later, my husband is driving back to Denver from California, and gets the call that his dad died. The next day, we find out that we are having a baby boy! We now have a very rambunctious 4-year-old, Richard Edward Holbrook II (Ricky), named after his Grandpa Rick.

As if this story isn’t long enough. In 2012 I gave birth to a lovely baby girl. We named her Elizabeth, after her Great Grandma Betty (originally Elizabeth). Now in 2015, we want to bring back our original Walk to End Alzheimer’s team, Getting Sweaty for Rick and Betty, and walk with my two kids who are our living memorials to those that we lost to Alzheimer’s.

Ricky and Elizabeth

Our kids, Ricky and Elizabeth, named for their grandparents.

Our Alzheimer’s story  has definitely been one with great highs and great lows. Due to our experiences, my husband, who went to school to be a golf course manager, working in private country clubs for 5 years, changed his career. He now works for Brookdale Senior Living in Arvada, he’s the Executive Director. He looked long and hard at his life while his dad was suffering from Alzheimer’s and he said to himself, what am I doing? He felt that his hands were tied since he wasn’t able to take care of him out in California. So he did the next best thing. He started a career where he could help those here in Denver living with the disease. To this day he doesn’t regret that decision. He loves his job, and his residents love him!

– Jessica Holbrook, Team Captain of Getting Sweaty for Rick and Betty

Helping To Change Lives One Step At A Time

Jack Fussell running

Jack Fussell running the Boulder Flatirons

Jack Fussell’s Facebook page says he is “just a regular guy trying to help, like I promised I would.”

But Fussell is anything but regular. The 64 year old Navy veteran is walking and running more than 3500 miles from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts, all to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

Fussell started his incredible cross-country journey on November 4, 2014 from Tybee Island in his home state of Georgia, and he will be finishing the trek in Monterey, California. Currently, Fussell is racing across Colorado. This ‘regular guy’ covers an impressive 20-25 miles each day, inspiring and educating those he meets along the way, and changing the lives of people affected by the disease one step at a time.

Jack Fussell running through Colorado

Jack Fussell running through the Colorado mountains

But his journey isn’t just about completing the physical challenge. Talking to as many people as possible about the disease is one of his most important goals. “Every 67 seconds, a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is made,” he said. “This disease is devastating…and not just for the people living with the disease, also for their caregivers.”
In 2000, Fussell lost his father to Alzheimer’s disease. His father came from a family of 12 siblings, seven of whom died of the disease. Faced with the loss of his father and a personal health scare, Fussell was inspired to reevaluate his life. He lost 100 pounds and made it his new mission to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease by trekking across the country.

 

His campaign, “Across the Land, raising awareness one step at a time” has been featured in hundreds of media outlets across the country and has enabled him to meet four governors as well as countless people affected by the disease. “I’ve spent about 55 nights in Alzheimer’s units talking to patients and caregivers. These special experiences are life changing and remind me that I need to keep going forward with our mission.”
Although his journey is physically and emotionally draining, Fussell is constantly inspired by the many brave people he meets that are either affected by the disease or working towards finding a cure. “I feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be able to do this.” But he stresses that so much work needs to be done in terms of legislation and funding. “It is shocking how little funding is provided for this disease – people can help by talking to their lawmakers and demanding change.”

Fussell said his trek doesn’t exactly have a set-in-stone plan. He usually just travels wherever there is an Alzheimer’s Association chapter. Fussell also wants to raise awareness of the network that is available to inform and support anyone touched by Alzheimer’s. “People can call 800-272-3900 to reach a 24-hour-a-day help line that has counselors for caregivers or anyone concerned about the illness,” he said.

Jack Fussell visits the Alzheimer's Association Colorado Chapter

Jack Fussell visits the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter

For more information about the Alzheimer’s Association or to follow Fussell’s journey, visit facebook.com/acrosstheland2015.

Leslie Mitchell

 

-by Leslie Mitchell, Alzheimer’s Association Volunteer.