By Anita Harvey
The light in my mother’s eyes is the reason I became an advocate and a passionate supporter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Each time I see a joyful expression on her face, I feel compelled to share our story. I am also painfully aware that Alzheimer’s will one day extinguish that beautiful loving light no matter how hard I fight to preserve mother’s quality of life.
For the last sixteen years, my mother has lived with Alzheimer’s disease, the first signs appearing long before she received a diagnosis. As the years passed and her disease progressed, I watched my mother, the rock and foundation of my world, slowly lose the ability to care for herself or advocate for her well-being. Our journey has been difficult but despite tragedy, frustration and doubt, I have learned much about being an effective advocate as our roles reversed and I became my mother’s caregiver.
Angered by the shocking deficiencies and unexpected roadblocks in the healthcare system, I turned to the Alzheimer’s Association for information, guidance and counseling. I can’t remember how many times I called their 24/7 Helpline. Even if I just called to let off steam when I felt I had reached the end of my rope, even when I was told what I didn’t want to hear. I was never disappointed in their gentle wisdom.
Each and every Mother’s Day since her diagnosis has been a treasured gift. My husband and I were looking forward to taking Mother to her favorite restaurant for brunch this year, but our plans were dashed when mother suffered a compression fracture in her spine. Her recovery has been slow and complicated by her Alzheimer’s disease. Instead of making a brunch reservation, I was once again calling the 24/7 Helpline for information and support.
Many lives will be touched by this vicious disease, but thanks to the Alzheimer’s Association, help is available for those who seek it and perhaps a cure will be found in our lifetime. I support their cause through my writing and financial contribution. Together, we can make a difference.
Anita was born in western Washington and has lived in the area her entire life. She is married to an incredibly supportive husband, Lyle. She is a production manager at a local, family owned, company and has been with the same company for over 26 years. She and her husband love and enjoy the beautiful outdoors of the Pacific Northwest. Follow our blog for more of Anita’s story next week.