By: Leslie Elvebak-Powell
My name is Leslie Elvebak-Powell and I live and work in Anacortes, WA with my hubby Scott, and our chocolate and silver labs Maggie Mae & Odin.
I’ve worked in senior living and memory care communities for many years, helping families who are in the dredges of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It’s an honor for me to walk this journey with them, helping wherever they need. It might be comfort, it might be answers and resources, it might be step-by-step how to…no matter how it is, it feels like I’m building warriors who are going out and helping their neighbors and friends.
We have to stop giving this disease so much power and say it out loud. It’s the only way folks will find the strength to ask for the help they deserve. No one person, family, whatever the unit, should feel alone on this journey. Not when we have learned as much as we have, fought as much as we have and created the networks of support that exist.
I first became involved with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in 2012 while working at a continuing care community in Skagit County. The Alzheimer’s Association was looking to deepen their roots in the county and I volunteered to help find the location for a local day-of education and support event. After being a part of putting that event together, and seeing how the need for education and support for families living with dementia had such a terrifying scope, it was easy to commit myself to being a part of the Walk.
Right now, my Walk team, Team Lighthouse Memory Care, is comprised of my coworkers and teammates, and friends and family members of said team members. This year, our team has decided to put many of our eggs into one basket and have planned a mini-walk in Anacortes on August 10 to raise money for our Walk to End Alzheimer’s team, at our local Storvik Park. We are calling it “Paint the Park Purple!” It’s a day in the park where we will be walking the park loop to honor those living with dementia, those we have lost, and those who serve. It will include a mini memory garden and participants will be able to make a personalized flower to honor someone specific much like a luminaire. Our residents will be hosting a bake sale/lemonade stand and we will have special shirts made that will be for sale, of course with all the proceeds going to the North Sound Walk to End Alzheimer’s. We are excited about the community response so far. The Anacortes Fire Department has agreed to bring out one of their trucks, there is an activity splash pad for kiddos, we’ll have bubbles and hopefully a lot more surprises the day of the party!
I walk for each of the residents, past, present and future. I walk for their families, for everyone in their life who grieves as they provide caring love and support as they watch their very own person disappear. I walk for our caregivers, who provide loving non-judgemental support, and seek out moments of joy with the ones in their charge. I walk so that my nieces and nephews, step children and grandchildren won’t be forced to endure this journey either as a caregiver or care-receiver.
Walk day is wonderful. It’s always full of smiles, tears, shenanigans and fun. It is a wonderful way to draw attention to our battle and to celebrate loved ones lost as well as the heroes who fight hard every day. Throughout the year though, it’s important for us to continue the conversation, demystify all things dementia, and hold up families who need love and support.
Leslie’s team will be raising money for the North Sound 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.