Why I Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Adam’s Story

My mom, Nancy Leonard.
My mom, Nancy Leonard.

 

My mom, Nancy Leonard, died from Alzheimer’s disease on Valentine’s Day 2013. Her mother, Betty Stoffregen, is in a nursing home in Lubbock, Texas still struggling with this horrible disease. I am devoting my team’s cause to remember my mom and for the struggle that my grandmother goes through still today.

 

My mom was a school teacher in a small town in Eastern Colorado (Bethune School). She was such a wonderful person that always thought about others first and was truly dedicated to teaching her students. After her retirement in 2008 she moved to Dodge City, Kansas to take care of my grandmother with dementia. They then moved to Lubbock,Texas to be closer to family. To make a long story short, my mom, while taking care of her mother with dementia, began showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

She eventually moved in with me and my roommates in Denver in 2010. I was 28 years old. We did our best to take care of her through all of the ups and downs – through her going out for walks and getting lost and having the police bring her home – through her having hallucinations – through her ending up in a nursing home. We got to a point where we needed outside help. We hired a company to have a nurse come over every day while we were at work to take care of her. We eventually needed to move her to Brookshire House in late 2011. The staff and the facility were such a joy and wonder to work with they actually helped my mom get to the point where she could talk again. I was able to talk to her every day on the phone. However, the disease eventually progressed and she was moved into a secure section of the nursing home. She started to fall regularly, then she stopped eating, and the end result we all know…

My mom was 60 years old when she died. She had so much life to give. My mom was such an influential person in my life and having to go through this at such a young age on both our parts was a life changing event. I think that the Alzheimer’s Association is such a wonderful organization because people need to understand how this is going to affect their lives. This disease doesn’t care how old you are, it doesn’t care how it hurts the ones you love, it is relentless, it is ruthless, it is cruel. The only thing that you can do is be prepared and know what to expect. You have to be financially ready and of sound mind to even begin to handle something of this magnitude.

I miss my mom daily and only hope that we can come together as a human race so that nobody has to go through this again. That’s why I will be participating in this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Denver City Park on September 20, 2014.

 

Hyatt Transforms into an Art Gallery for Alzheimer’s Association

Board Chair Sarah Lorance and her husband Michael enjoy An Elegant Evening of Art benefiting the Alzheimer's Association of Colorado
Board Chair Sarah Lorance and her husband Michael enjoy An Elegant Evening of Art benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado

The annual Alzheimer’s Association Memories in the Making (MIM) Art Auction was held at the DTC Hyatt and raised more than $250,000 to support families living with Alzheimer’s as well as research to find better treatments and eventually a cure. This year’s theme, An Elegant Evening of Art, was well emphasized throughout the second floor lobby of the Hyatt with stunning framed watercolors created by those with Alzheimer’s disease and original works donated by local professional artists.

Many returning professionals were in attendance this year including Martin Lambuth, Margaretta Caesar, Cheryl St. John, Tammi Otis, Lisa Hut, Frances Gottlieb, Al Murphy, Jean Shom, Amy Winter, Marin Dobson, Shawn Shea, Anne Aguirre, Kay Landen, and Madeleine O’Connell. Duke Beardsley’s painting of cowboys on canvas and Roxanne Rossi’s gorgeous black and white laquer dress titled Afternoon Tea were two of the pairings that saw rapid fire bidding from the more than 550 guests during the live auction hosted by 9News anchor Kim Christiansen. Her son Tanner helped out the cause by walking the catwalk with artwork while mom shared poignant stories about the paintings and the artists who created them.

Rich and Julie Wham check out the Duke Beardsley pairing for the live auction which went to an anonymous bidder for a record $13,250
Rich and Julie Wham check out the Duke Beardsley pairing for the live auction which went to an anonymous bidder for a record $13,250

The highest bid ever for the Association was $13,250 for Beardsley’s piece paired with a watercolor of two cowboys, while Rossi’s dress and its pairing of a Red Strapless Dior Dress went to Stephen Koch and Donna Herlehey for $4100. Other high bids included: Gary and Donna Antonoff on a series of watercolors titled Roses paired with Love for Growth by artist Laurie Maves. Jim and Zodie Livingston whose successful bid earned them the watercolor titled Aspen paired with a beautiful oil painting by Margaretta Caesar.

It was an amazing evening celebrating and honoring the work of artists who paint in our Memories in the Making (MIM) program, which is offered at no cost across the state. We are so thankful to all of the sponsors and bidders in our silent and live auctions. We are also especially grateful to the families who donated the MIM watercolors as well as all the wonderful professional artists who donated an original work for pairing with an Alzheimer’s watercolor or for contributing a palette for our silent auction.

Linda Mitchell, Association CEO and Art Auction Steering Committee Chair Tom O'Donnell share a moment after hearing the total raised exceed expectations at more than $250,000.
Linda Mitchell, Association CEO and Art Auction Steering Committee Chair Tom O’Donnell share a moment after hearing the total raised exceed expectations at more than $250,000.

Other special guests attending the Denver auction this year included Sunday Mann, Susie Frey, Ted Shipman, Alex Speros, Dr. Gene Eby, Tim and Kathy VanMeter, Lisa and Ed Hut, Dick and Norma Auer, Courtney Sipperley, Leslie Liedtke, Sally Haas, Bonnie Perkins, Julie and Rich Wham, Mike Spriggs, William Brummett, Gary, Sandy and Scott Autrey, Barbara and Lee Mendel, Melinda Quiat, and Alzheimer’s Association Board members Tom O’Donnell, Tom Hurley and his wife Jeri, Adam Duerr and his wife Ali, Sid Okes and his guest Shari Gillespie, JJ Jordan and her husband Tim, Kristy Tochihara, Venetia Marshall, Chris Binkley and his wife Linda, Linda Peotter and her husband Jeff, Board Chair Sarah Lorance and her husband Michael, Association President and CEO Linda Mitchell and her husband Ken Neeper.

Linda MitchellLinda Mitchell,
Alzheimer’s Association
President and CEO
Click here to view photos from the event

Tackling Alzheimer’s Disease

My Mom. The reason I participate in Blondes vs. Brunettes.
My Mom. The reason I participate in Blondes vs. Brunettes.

My mom has always loved Christmas, everything about it; the decorations, the cookies, the songs, the Christmas themed sweaters (that I would roll my eyes at), and especially the family time and traditions. She really made the whole season so joyous for all of us with her child-like excitement. So it was heart-breaking when 6 years ago on December 26th, she turned to me and said ‘I can’t wait for Christmas this year.’ We had just celebrated yesterday, but it was clear she had already forgotten about it; she had forgotten about our time together as a family, about the gifts we had given her, and the traditional family dinner we all shared. She was not able to experience the joy that she typically had before Alzheimer’s. I could not manage to tell her that we already celebrated, so I turned away as tears came to my eyes and responded with, ‘I know. I can’t wait either. I love Christmas.’

I wanted her to be able to hold onto that hope and excitement even for just a minute. I was so sad for her and for our family and I’d like… no I need to see a world where conversations like this don’t happen.

Cari MackaySo that is why, this year, I am again participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Blondes vs. Brunettes, a nationwide women’s flag-football league created to advance the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. I am involved in honor of my mother who is slipping away from us and in support of my father who took on the extremely difficult and emotionally challenging job of caregiver for so many years. I am taking on this challenge with the hope that other families will not have to live with Alzheimer’s.

My team and I are training, fundraising, and preparing for game day, but win or lose, our true goal is a world without Alzheimer’s! This event gives me hope and I can’t wait for the game-day! Go BruCrew!

– Cari Mackay, YPAAC Board of Directors Chair

Team Brunettes 2013.
Team Brunettes 2013.

The Brunettes will take on the Blondes this Saturday, June 14th at 11 a.m.
The game is being played at University of Denver Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.
To purchase tickets click here.

Memories in the Making Art Goes Beyond the Paintbrush

The Alzheimer’s Association Memories in the Making® art program often enables individuals to reach outside of their dementia and paint a picture that reconnects them with a past memory. These documented memories become powerful tools that reassure family and caregivers that the essence of the individual is still there. Sometimes, long held memories emerge in the form of a painting. Such was the case for Ruth Bibbs, a Memories in the Making artist.

While at the InnovAge Chambers Center, with the encouragement of a volunteer art facilitator, Ruth was inspired to paint a picture reconnecting her to a long lost sibling.

William's Plan by Ruth Briggs, Memories in the Making Artist
William’s Plane by Ruth Briggs

When asked to describe her painting titled “William’s Plane” Ruth replied, “I was inspired to draw this. My brother flew in WWII. Although it might not have been what he flew, it inspired me. His name was William Booker and he was a Tuskegee Airman. I was very young when he was flying so I don’t remember details very well. I do know he enjoyed flying. My mother had a picture of him in a plane and she was very proud of him.”

Inspired by the story, staff members began to research Ruth’s brother in hopes of reconnecting them. The two had not been in contact for quite some time. Unfortunately, through internet research staff members discovered that William Booker passed away a few weeks after Ruth’s painting of the plane. However, the internet search for William Booker also revealed that Ruth’s painting was not the first time the Flight Engineer for the 477th Bomber Group had been immortalized through art. As it turns out, an artist by the name of Chris Hopkins created a charcoal drawing of William Booker for his Tuskegee Airman Project.

William Booker by Chris Hopkins
William Booker by Chris Hopkins

Upon learning of the connection, staff members at the InnovAge Chambers Center contacted Chris Hopkins and shared a photo of Ruth’s painting with him. Chris was thrilled when he learned of Ruth’s painting and the story behind it. He responded by telling Ruth that her painting had, “really made his day,” and he sent Ruth a large copy of the charcoal portrait he had created of William. She was overjoyed when she received the artwork, to her it was much more than a portrait.

It is stories like this that make the Alzheimer’s Association Memories in the Making Art Program so special. Often the beautiful landscapes or abstract watercolors come to mean so much more for the families of the Memories in the Making artists. They tell long forgotten stories, offer glimpses into a person’s past, and provide families with a treasured memory of a life well lived.

While this painting was featured in our 2013 art auction, there are many wonderful selections available in Memories in the Making Art Auctions being held in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Ft. Collins this May and June. If you are interested in attending this year’s event or sponsoring one of our Memories in the Making Art Auctions, please click here.

Why I Volunteer With The Alzheimer’s Association Of Colorado

Tokunbo Joseph Olowookere
Tokunbo Joseph Olowookere

The threat of Alzheimer’s is real. This is why I volunteer with and support The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado. No immediate members of my family have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but I have some extended family members that have/had the disease. My Pastor’s husband died with Alzheimer’s. I don’t remember the man, because he was ill with the disease when I met him as a child. From what my Pastor speaks about her husband, he was an exceptional man. He was respected by his church as a Deacon, and an excellent provider for his wife and nine children.

I have an Uncle who’s wife’s mom and dad have/had Alzheimer’s. Her mom is still alive, but her dad passed away with the disease. He served as mayor of his city, Altheimer, AR. I wasn’t familiar with former Mayor Fred Martin, but I did meet his wife. I remember during family reunions, my Aunt would have her mom re-fold t-shirts to keep her busy, while others enjoyed the family reunion festivities. I understand eventually, they had to put Mrs. Martin in a nursing home.

These three examples of people with great minds getting Alzheimer’s proves, as Alzheimer’s Association board member, and fellow member of The Association’s African American Advisory Committee, Phillip Heath states, “Alzheimer’s is an equal opportunity destroyer.” There is a form of dementia called “younger-onset Alzheimer’s,” that can occur in the 40-50 age group. This concerns me, because I’m getting older.

I appreciate that the Alzheimer’s Association has a multicultural outreach that caters to African Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities. I’ve volunteered on The Helpline, which is a great first contact for people that have questions about Alzheimer’s. Being a member of The African American Advisory Committee, has granted me great opportunities to meet and engage with important people of our time. People like Dr. Ben Carson, Neurosurgeon and Dr. Huntington Potter.

African American Alzheimer's Risk

Now the Alzheimer’s Association, through staff member, Rosalyn Reese and The African American Advisory Committee, have launched an enterprising plan called, “Purple Power Champions Initiative.” It’s about going to black churches, via their health ministries to bring awareness about Alzheimer’s. Since African Americans are more likely to get Alzheimer’s then other ethnic groups, it makes sense that African Americans, and people in general get educated about the disease [African Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s due to the correlation of the disease to high blood pressure and diabetes both of which have a higher incidence among blacks and Hispanics]. The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado also has many free classes and courses available to the public.

Not only has the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado made me more aware about the seriousness of this deadly disease called Alzheimer’s, the Association is fun! I enjoy the annual fundraisers, Walk To End Alzheimer’s and The Blonde vs. Brunette Flag Football Game. The staff and volunteers I’ve met at the Alzheimer’s Association are good people to know. So whether you are African American, or any other ethnic group or race, The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado is a good organization to utilize and support. I am proud to be associated with this organization.

Sincerely,

Tokunbo Joseph Olowookere

50 Marathons At Age 50 For Alzheimer’s

David KnappHi there! My name is David Knapp and in celebration of turning 50 this year I plan on running 50 marathons in memory of my mother Audrey Jean Knapp who died of Alzheimer’s in 2001. I hope to raise $50,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado and the 72,000 Coloradans living with the disease.

I know what many of you are thinking, “David, 50 marathons at age 50 is an absurd goal.

However, a favorite teacher once told me, “Always chase windmills. Even if they call you a crazy old man – keep chasing windmills. The day you stop chasing windmills is the day you die.” Taking that advice to heart, I firmly believing that the fatigue and injuries one endures during a “noble quest” (to quote Cervantes’ knight errant) are but a small price to pay for all the richness and rewards that the noble quest provides. Watching my Mom deteriorate as the disease progressed was undoubtedly the most emotionally painful experience of my life. But watching the physical, mental, and emotional toll it took on my father as he tried to care for her was a close second. So the challenge of running 50 marathons in one year will pale in comparison to what Dad went through as her caregiver.

David Knapp - Running Chicago Marathon
David Knapp – Running the Chicago Marathon

Just so you know, I’m no stranger to marathon challenges. In 2004, I ran 40 marathons during the calendar year to celebrate turning 40 years old. So running 50 to raise money for this incredible organization is a natural progression. I know it won’t be easy, but I want to complete next year’s quest to help others – the individuals who are dealing with this terrible disease, as well as their family members who are facing the difficult and heart-wrenching experience that my family went through with Mom.

Please help me reach my “50 Marathons for $50,000” goal by donating whatever you can. Keep in mind that many businesses and corporations have donation-matching policies in place – so if you could ask about that at your workplace, I’d greatly appreciate it. Also, I’m looking for corporate sponsors to help offset the tremendous costs involved in registering for and traveling to races, so please let me know if your organization would be willing to help with that aspect of the marathon quest.

Thank you in advance for your generosity. Together, we can help researchers find the critical medical breakthrough that one day will lead to a world without Alzheimer’s.

-David

You can follow David’s adventures before, during, and after the marathon quest at:

Fundraising page: act.alz.org/goto/DavidKnapp
Twitter: twitter.com/DrDavidKnapp
Facebook: facebook.com/ChasingWindmills50

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

This month is National Caregiver Month and National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. It can also be a hard time of year for those living with Alzheimer’s.

Bill with the whole family at Christmas in 2006
Bill with the whole family at Christmas in 2006

My own family was impacted 12 years ago as my husband Bill began to develop symptoms of the disease at only 52 years of age. Thanks to my healthy active parents, two wonderful sisters and a strong community network, we were able to care for Bill at home for most of the years he lived with the disease. The holidays were the most stressful for me however. We tried to keep our traditions alive for the first few years, going to the Nutcracker Ballet, cutting our tree from nearby forest land, walking in the annual Golden Holiday Parade. However, as the disease progressed Bill got more anxious about many of those cherished traditions. He worried about buying and wrapping gifts for me and other family members. Party invitations had to be carefully considered if there would be a lot of people because he was easily confused as well as embarrassed at not remembering names. He got frustrated at not being able to make the delicious meals he had enjoyed creating each year during the holidays. I found the tasks specially associated with the holidays as well as many others household chores falling to me alone. With advice from the Alzheimer’s Association, I finally took a hard look at what we were continuing to do each year that was causing me added stress and contributing to a general sense of exhaustion. Once we stopped to think about all the things we were doing, we refocused on what we truly loved the most and looked how to make those things just a little easier for both of us. By changing things a bit we could still manage to keep the joy in the holidays. Cutting the tree on forest land was still manageable if I was the one who used the saw, homemade items could be supplemented with store-bought goodies, friends could take Bill shopping for gifts and help him manage the money, and we could spend time celebrating with smaller groups of people that we really cared about.

This time of year will always be bittersweet for me having lost Bill to Alzheimer’s four years ago this coming February but his legacy lives on every time I share our story and offer insight about caregiving.

This month, take some time and look around your own life. Find the caregivers who need your love and support this holiday season. Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help. If you can be specific and suggest some ides of your own, you may find your offer is received and with a great deal of appreciation and relief. Offer to do errands like grocery shopping or picking up medications at the pharmacy. Drop by with a ready-to-cook meal. Give the gift of your time to sit with the person who is ill or needing a companion so the caregiver can take some time off. Offer to wrap gifts or do the decorating. Caregivers are often too busy to think about themselves and what they need in order to keep going. Let them know they aren’t alone. If you know someone who needs help caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia make sure they know about the Alzheimer’s Association. All of the services for individuals and families are free and just a phone call away. 800.272.3900 Many caregivers will tell you there was never any question about whether they would care for someone they love. Each and every day is a gift, every moment, even when things get tough, a treasured memory. Find a way to honor a caregiver in your life this holiday.

Living Life Well with A Diagnosis

Bruce Peterson
Bruce and Marikay Peterson

Yes, my wife’s diagnosis caused confusion at first. Initially we thought the short term memory loss was similar to others our age, but the tests identified a more severe limitation: Alzheimer’s

Candidly we have found many positives to this disease. It caused me to enter retirement at an earlier age than anticipated and found that I really didn’t mind missing work. The exchange from a business attitude to a more relaxed posture created a more solid marriage. Instead of me leaving an empty house to my wife(our children had moved out) at 6 am, I was sleeping longer, with less worries.

Currently we try to do something together, EACH DAY. Often times (maybe once per week) it involves an Alzheimer’s function, like our journey to Mt. Everest today. Friends have volunteered to help when I leave to play golf. It’s important to identify them before a crises, instead of after (when you can’t find them). At a recent Alzheimer’s luncheon 57 friends joined us for lunch to recognize my wife and share their concerns, to offer their prayers. You can imagine the positive impact on our entire family!

We have signed up for three/four programs that meet at the Alzheimer’s office throughout the month. We found out about Active Minds and Café Connect which encourages intellectual stimulation for seniors. Occasionally we receive free tickets to community activities. Never would we have enjoyed these many Denver activities if it were not for the diagnosis. While seeking treatment at the Anschutz Center we take pride in this wonderful expanding facility which means so much to our community. We always leave with a sense of confidence because the staff is professional while at the same time showing empathy.

Our friends have changed from a purely business and political association to new friends where we share something in common: fear about the future while coping day to day with the unknown. We enjoy our new friends as we wrestle with daily issues that are not understood by the public. We have no concerns about telling the same story multiple times or hearing a joke for the 10th time. This sincere friendship and comfort (“I understand what you’re going through”) would not have taken place a few years ago.

My wife is fully aware of her new limitations, something that might not have been admitted while working up the corporate ladder. Daily we work together to understand our feelings and how to better cope with confusion.

At this time I’m not certain of the future, but believe that this could be one of the best blessings of our retirement lives.

-Bruce Peterson

Living Life When the Diagnosis is Alzheimer’s

At the Alzheimer’s Association we often hear from families that their first reaction after a diagnosis is one of relief, because now they finally know what they are dealing with. However, what follows shortly after is a profound sense of loss at what’s to come as the disease progresses.

What many people don’t understand is that while this disease steals so much of the person known and loved by friends and family, changes can happen relatively slowly. Speech, for instance, begins to deteriorate with a person initially having trouble finding nouns and eventually, they may be unable to put sentences together.  Following step-by-step instructions or a recipe may get increasingly difficult. Balance may be impacted so falling down and dropping and spilling things may occur more often. In addition, the ability to use good judgment to make decisions may begin to decrease. That doesn’t mean life can’t be enjoyed, or trips can’t be taken or new adventures can’t be planned. Simple adjustments may just need to be made to the way you’ve always done things.

While the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are progressive, there is still a great deal of life to live after a diagnosis. What activities do you or a loved one continue to enjoy?
While the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are progressive, there is still a great deal of life to live after a diagnosis.

One man, who thoroughly enjoyed cooking in his beautifully-equipped kitchen, enlisted his wife’s help. They removed all the sharp knives, labeled drawers and moved things around so he could easily find what he needed. Then they simplified recipes and used the ones still most familiar to him so he could continue doing what he loved. Another couple who loved to dance was worried the wife’s balance problems would mean they had to stop. In fact, her dancing feet remembered all the right steps.  And yet another family switched to croquet instead of golf and now the grandchildren get out on the course with grandpa, giving them a wonderful new way to play and interact together.

Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease but it doesn’t have to bring life to a screeching halt. You can still do what you enjoy, maybe just a little differently. In fact slowing things down a bit and allowing additional time for an activity creates a more comfortable and enjoyable environment for someone with dementia . Figure out what kinds of activities are available in your area and adapt them when you can. If you enjoy visiting local museums, find out if there are hours when the crowds are smaller and whether there are docents who are trained for groups with special needs. The Denver Art Museum has a program specifically for those with dementia called Art and About that is coordinated with the Alzheimer’s Association.  Tours are offered each time a new exhibit comes to town. Walking trails designed for the sight impaired offer a unique way to follow guided walkways when balance and direction are issues for a friend or family member with dementia. If you’ve always loved to camp, try an RV instead of a tent.  A pop up camper or RV makes things easier on the care partner. More time can be spent enjoying the out of doors than on the set up, cooking and cleaning up involved with tent camping. If gardening is a special hobby, create a special bin for equipment and help mom find it each time she wants to putter with her roses. And try large-print playing cards to keep dad winning at the Bridge table. Keeping your friend or loved one busy, active, engaged and socializing may mean the disease progresses just a little bit slower. Regardless of the activity or the hobby, the real benefit is that by looking for ways to keep someone you love doing what they love, you have been given the gift of time with them to treasure.

To learn about the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s or for ways to keep a loved one active and content go to alz.org/co or call 800.272.3900

What activities do you or a loved one continue to enjoy?
What activities do you or a loved one continue to enjoy?

The Longest Day

Last year my friends and family participated in The Longest Day on June 20, for the first time. We’ve had a Walk team for the past six first walking in honor and then in memory of my husband Bill and wanted to find a way to involve more family and friends in the cause.

The Longest Day
Join us on June 21, 2013 for The Longest Day, as together we honor those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.

After struggling for five years with symptoms, Bill was diagnosed with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s when he was just 57. Our journey lasted a total of nine years and he died in 2010. He was my soul mate and my best buddy on so many adventures. We camped across Colorado and into Utah, South Dakota and Wyoming. We skied resorts from Vermont to New Hampshire to Colorado to Utah and the Tetons. Even in the midst of his disease, we pushed our limits in the search for new, challenging adventures. When the Alzheimer’s Association launched The Longest Day it seemed like the perfect way to continue to honor Bill’s legacy. Along with my friends and family, we took up activities that fit best with what we love to do. My younger sister in Durango rode her horses and her road bike trainer, my parents walked the streets of Vail during what was their anniversary trip, my sister Lynne walked the trails near her home in Lakewood, and my good friend Bob and I rode our mountain bikes near Boulder for four hours. All day, somewhere in the country, our team was doing something they love to raise money and awareness in memory of Bill. Thanks to our generous friends and family, we also raised nearly $1,700 for the Association.

The Longest Day at Vail
My mom and dad walked throughout Vail for The Longest Day.

Did I mention The Longest Day is scheduled to take place on the longest day of the year? The summer solstice occurs each year in June, this year on Friday, June 21. That means there are 16 hours of daylight from sunrise to sunset. The Alzheimer’s Association chose that day in recognition of caregivers, who like me spend every day from sunrise to sunset and into the night providing care for someone they love who is living with Alzheimer’s. The tagline for the event is “for them every day is the longest day, for you it’s just one” and it rings true. The Longest Day offers us an opportunity to give up one day to raise money, awareness and an understanding that this disease steals the person you love long before they die. We have to find effective treatments, we have to stop this disease before more spouses, children, grandchildren and friends lose people who mean so very much. Please consider forming a team this year and join us in 16 hours of doing whatever you love to help end Alzheimer’s.

Sara Spaulding,
Former caregiver for best friend, partner and husband Bill Perrin, Jr
Alz.org/thelongestday