By Denise Novosel
My family has a history of Alzheimer’s. Both my grandmother and her brother were afflicted by this disease. My mom always worried she too would fall victim to Alzheimer’s. And I worried for her. So in 2007, when she abruptly retired from her job at a large Aerospace company at age 63, five years before she had planned to, I knew.
The timeline of her progression through this disease is emblazoned in my brain as I too was experiencing life-changing events: the birth of my two children. There was nothing in the world that my mom wanted more than to be a grandmother. So when she forgot I was hospitalized for a potential pre-term delivery, I knew. From that moment on, I was on a quest to get her help and find answers.
Of course there were more signs, some subtle, some not so subtle. I kept pushing, kept asking. The response was always the same: “I’m fine. My doctor said I’m fine.” I knew she was not fine and insisted on a neurology referral. The neurologist ordered a CT scan and confirmed what we feared most: my mom had Alzheimer’s disease.
From that point on we have been on a journey that has tested our faith and strength. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for her–how scared and invisible she must have felt. Julianne Moore said it well when she won best actress for Still Alice, “So many people with Alzheimer’s feel marginalized. People who have Alzheimer’s disease deserve to be seen.”
I walk because my mom deserves to be seen. I walk to raise awareness for the 5 million Americans like her living with Alzheimer’s now and for the people like me who love and care for them. I walk so that my children will never worry about me the way I worried about her.
Yes, that is why I Walk to End Alzheimer’s.