The annual Walk to End Alzheimer's is personal for me. Many of you know my family's story and our connection to Alzheimer's. My dad was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer's in 2009 and lost his battle in September 2012. The disease took away his ability to make simple decisions, speak coherently, understand the world around him, and take care of himself physically. We watched the decline over a few years and it was a world of frustration and hurt for everyone involved, especially us closest to him.
I cannot even express my hatred for this disease and how it broke my heart to even visit my dad and realize that him and my mom would never enjoy the retirement they thought they would have and he will never get to enjoy his grandchildren and play with them, teach them how to golf, or tell them stories about what a pain in the butt their mother was growing up. (: My mom was my dad's sole care-taker until she physically couldn't take care of him anymore; at which that time he was placed in a nursing home. He went through 3 nursing homes and 2 hospitals, which added to the drama of the disease and highlighted the fact that quality care for people with younger-onset Alzheimer's is hard to find. When my dad passed, he was in a special "last resort" 'nursing home 4 hours away from my mom and 2 hours from me - making it extremely difficult to visit on a regular basis. Care-taking is a saint's job, especially in these instances and with this disease, I think the care-taker can end up worse off than the patient if not approached correctly and if they don't have the necessary support.
The Alzheimer's Association (AA) holds several walks throughout the country to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer's research, care and support. This annual walk has become a way to honor my dad and also remind ourselves there are still many people and families out there suffering with this disease. The disease is not preventable or cureable and it cannot be treated - it is awful. Alzheimer's needs our attention. I'm not saying cancer, heart disease, and other diseases aren't bad - we all have lost loved ones to those diseases- but with Alzheimer's there is no hope. A diagnosis is an eventual death sentence - and in most cases, it's a long drawn out, mentally painful death. Dignity is lost. I want to end this for my other family members, for my friends, for my children - so they don't have to experience this pain.
We know that once a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, it is only the beginning of a very rough road, and the AA provides help and support for families in need. We reached out to their resources before and they truly are an organization that is started a movement to end the disease.
This was the 4th year we had a team in the walk. The team Tough as Bricks was formed to honor my late bricklaying father. This year I technically did not walk as I volunteered my photography services. I got to witness and capture the emotion of the day from a little different perspective. We had a beautiful day for the walk and it was great to see a large turnout! #ENDALZ
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