Joy Lofquist was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1997 and passed away from the disease in 2015. What defined Joy, though, was not the disease but the woman she was. “I have stated many times that my mom was a force of nature. All 4’11 ½” of her,” said her son, Brian Lofquist.
For the past six years, Brian and his family have been participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, the last three years under the name “Team Joy.” Brian and some of his family members are on the board for the Whatcom Beer and Wine Foundation. This year, proceeds from the Whatcom Beer and Wine Foundation’s Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival on August 10 will help benefit “Team Joy.”
Watching his mother experience Alzheimer’s was tough for Brian, but he used the Alzheimer’s Association as a resource.
“There are no good diseases, but watching the decline of someone you love is horrible. You look back at the pictures and see the life and vibrancy. It just isn’t there anymore,” said Brian. “The Alzheimer’s Association was a great resource, explaining the reasons for the changes. Mom as an avid reader and always doing crossword puzzles. That all slowed to a stop, along with things like using the phone. It was so helpful to have a resource to help us understand what was happening.”
Joy was a changemaker before her battle with Alzheimer’s. She was living with Crohn’s disease and was a founding member of the first local chapter of the National Foundation of Ileitis and Colitis. She also volunteered at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue.
As Joy’s experience with Alzheimer’s worsened, her husband and daughter had a hard time, Brian said. “My dad had to watch the changes over so many years. My sister was my mom’s full-time caregiver. Mom lived at home. It was a blessing having my sister there. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it was. My dad never stopped researching. These are the lessons we learned from mom and dad: You don’t give up.”
Brian’s advice for people caring for a loved one with dementia? “There isn’t anything you can do, except provide love and support. As far as advice, get all of the research and support you can. There is so much to understand. Reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association. They have so many resources. It goes far beyond understanding what is going on. There are things you would never think of or plan for. Reach out. The help is there.”
To learn more about the Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival, click here.
Team Joy is Walking in the Pacific Northwest Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. This inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to join the fight against the disease! Find your Walk and start your team at alzwa.org/walk.