#StillMe

StillMe-Sandra

Following the release of Still Alice, a movie staring Julianne Moore as a Columbia linguistics professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, several courageous members of our Early Stage Group got together to kick off a new social media campaign, ‪#‎StillMe‬. The campaign aims to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease by putting a face on a disease that affects more than 5 million Americans.

StillMe-Wayne

 

 

Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s, a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over time. In its early stages, memory loss is mild. In the late-stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. The #StillMe project aims to emphasize the individuals behind a disease that slowly robs them of themselves.

 

It is the slow and sorrowful progression of Alzheimer’s disease in a loved one that inspired Brad Torchia, a Denver based professional photographer, to get involved with the project:

A few years ago my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  My family lives across the country from me, and on my trips home every six months I would notice her decline, as well as the devastating effect it was having on everyone around her.  I started photographing her as a way to make sense of the situation, and slow the process in my mind.  Over time, this has turned into a larger scale portrait project that I have been working on in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado. I provide portraits of those living with the disease to their families at no cost, and simultaneously create a personal body of work. With this series, my goal is to convey the personality, and subtle, but noticeable effects that begin to take shape within the first stages of diagnosis, as well as contribute to the growing conversation around this disease.

StillMe-Rick

 

Barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease, by 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple to as many as 16 million. Despite this trajectory, Alzheimer’s remains the most expensive condition in the United States, and one of the most underfunded disease. Hopefully, the #StillMe campaign can shed a light on the individuals behind these statistics, because where there is humanity there is hope.

 

Now it’s your turn! Take a photo of someone in your life fighting Alzheimer’s disease and post it on Facebook or Twitter (@ColoAlzAssoc) with the hashtag #StillMe ‪#‎ENDALZ‬

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Why I Walk To End Alzheimer’s – The Gali Family Story

My grandfather - Ricardo Gali
My grandfather – Ricardo Gali

 

We have chosen to join the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in honor for my grandfather Ricardo Gali who passed away from Alzheimer’s in December 2012 at the age of 97. My family has a unique background story which is why I feel my grandfather fought for so long and so hard.

 

My grandfather, grandmother were born and raised in Havana Cuba. When my mother was 2 years old they began their journey to America. My grandparents went through some very frightening events to get to America, including coming very close to being shot for sneaking milk to my mother and uncle (he was 1 at the time). From the minute my grandfather touched American soil he expressed how grateful he was to be here and how important family was. This was passed on to all of the grandchildren from a young age. I have very fond memories of my grandfather teaching us what it meant to be a part of a family that escaped Cuba unharmed. My grandfather always made sure we did everything as a family.

Growing up I thought it was normal to always have family gatherings with extended cousins, great aunts etc. As I got older I realized how unique we were and cherished it even more. My grandfather was always a very active person and never believed in hiring anyone to do anything, rather do it all himself. As time went on I saw the change in my grandfather and saw him getting more and more frustrated with things that seemed effortless not too long prior. As time went on we all started to see not only the affect on him but also my grandmother as she was the main care taker for him, but never once gave up. We all helped out where we could constantly visiting and staying late to make sure my grandmother had help and had someone to talk to when there were bad days.

My grandfather and Grandmother a few years prior to my grandfather passing away.
My grandfather and Grandmother a few years prior to my grandfather passing away.

3 years prior to my grandfather passing he began falling a lot and my grandmother could not help him back up, so all of the children and grandchildren moved our family’s to be closer so there was always someone minutes away in case of an emergency. Shortly after we all moved I saw the values that my grandfather constantly talked about come to life. My grandfather had fallen, but this time he had hurt himself pretty bad and we had to call the ambulance. Within minutes of us getting the call that he fell and needed a hospital we were all at my grandparent’s house to help out and keep my grandmother calm. As the ambulance took him away we all followed. The hospital had about 30 people sitting in the waiting room to hear about my grandfather. Towards the end things got harder but we never gave up and spent as much time as possible with him knowing time was coming to an end.

 

It will be 2 years in December since my grandfather has passed and our family has only bonded closer and stronger. We are all still hurt over his passing but know he is watching over us. We still gather for every holiday, birthday, and just because, because that is how he would of wanted it and that is how he liked our family, close together and spreading endless love between each other. This is why we will be participating as a family in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Denver City Park on September 20, 2014 to honor Ricardo Gali.

-Mallerie Lapp

The Longest Day 2014

On The Longest Day, June 21, 2014, teams around the world came together to honor the strength, passion and endurance of those facing Alzheimer’s with a day of activity. Worldwide, 2,713 participants  and 1,113 teams raised millions of dollars to advance the efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s largest voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

Colorado had 55 Longest Day teams, the most in the nation! Collectively, Coloradans raised over $62,000. What’s more, team members and communities came together to raise Alzheimer’s awareness from sunrise to sunset. Here are a few of their stories:

Josephine's Team -Team Ceja
Josephine’s Team -Team Ceja

 

Josephine’s Team -Team Ceja honored their mother with a motorcycle rally and poker tournament.  They raised over $1,500 through their Texas Hold ‘Em” tournament.

 

 

Team Climbing For A Cause
Team Climbing For A Cause

 

Team Climbing For A Cause summited three 14ers near Breckenridge,Colorado: Mt.Democrat, Mt.Lincoln, and Mt.Bross.

Team Boulder

 

 

 


Team Boulder partook in 16 hours of running, biking, hiking, lunching at the Farmers Market, and a wonderful Potluck and Sunset Ceremony

 

 

Team NuStepping to End Alzheimer’s

 

 

Team NuStepping to End Alzheimer’s encouraged residents to stay active throughout the day.

Team Supportive Friends

 

 

 

 

Team Supportive Friends walked, ran, and cycled around Lake Arbor during the day. At night, they gathered on the deck for an evening of live music.

 

 

Jan and Warren Spaulding

 

 

Jan and Warren Spaulding celebrated their 62nd Wedding Anniversary on The Longest Day. They hiked the trails with Sara’s Scramblers in Evergreen.

 

Griffin and Lily Reed

 

 

 

Griffin and Lily Reed, raised $191 by telling friends and family, “Our good friend Bill died of this terrible disease and we don’t want that to happen to anyone else.”

 

 

Team Zumba

 

Team Zumba danced from sunrise to sunset.

 

 

 

Ollie From The Top Of Mt.Bross
Dog Kayaking
Mowgli riding a kayak around Lake Arbor.

 

 

 

 

 

Even dogs got involved in the cause!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The energy on the Longest Day was truly contagious with 1,113 teams participating across the country, including 55 teams right here in Colorado. Thank you to all of the teams who were part of such a special event! Together, you are making difference on The Longest Day and every day!

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.

 

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.