We are excited to introduce Kerry Price-Duffy and Kristin Frossmo as Co-Chairs for the 2021 Pacific Northwest Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Seattle. They bring invaluable experience to their new volunteer roles leading the Walk Planning Committee. They have joined the fight against Alzheimer’s in honor of their parents.
By Kerry Price-Duffy
Picture above: My sister and me with our dad on Easter
Kristin and I are identical twins and are very close. We both went to the University of Washington, worked for Nordstrom for over 30 years and spend lots of time together with our families. We are honored to co-chair the Pacific Northwest Walk to End Alzheimer’s and support this important cause together.
Growing up, my mother was always the hostess and the life of the party. My dad was in the Air Force and Mom was actively involved with the military community, and making new friends in every place they lived and the churches they joined. They frequently hosted get-togethers where my sister and I got to help out with preparation and serving and we loved it! She also became known for hosting her “beer and bratwurst bye-bye bashes,” a nod to her German heritage, when friends moved away. She had an amazing ability to connect with people and build new relationships.
My sister Kristin remembers, “Her Christmas card list was huge as she added new friends with every move. She was a teacher after college, and while she stayed home as we grew up, teaching was part of her life. She taught Sunday school for many years, and it’s so touching to see all the notes she saved over the years from the middle school kids that were impacted by her.”
Our journey with Alzheimer’s began in 2014 when our mother began having noticeable memory issues and had to retire from a job she loved. Over the next several years, mom’s memory continued to decline and her ability to do the things she dreamed of in retirement — travel, puzzles, reading, embroidery — became too difficult. She was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and in 2018, our parents moved into a long-term care community. Within a year, mom was moved to memory care and her decline continued.
She could no longer take care of herself and her personality slowly changed. The gentle, loving mom we knew, who always had a smile and a hug, became more often sad or angry and paranoid. By fall of 2019, she was unable to walk or communicate and could only use her fingers to feed herself. We began hospice care for her. In March of 2020, just as everything was shutting down due to COVID-19, we were told mom had only a couple of weeks to live. Because she had hospice care, we were able to spend time with her in those final weeks and days, and she passed away on April 7, 2020.
Throughout most of those six years, our father was mom’s sole caregiver and he did everything — shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry and more — and had to make incredibly difficult decisions like selling their home and moving to a senior living community. The stress and impact on him was significant and took its toll. Kristin and I did everything we could to help as well, but we both had full-time jobs and our own families with kids to care for. At different points, we each took time off to attend to our parents, and I stopped working altogether last February when things were at a critical point with our mom.
During the last several years of mom’s illness, as my dad was carrying so much of the burden of caregiving, we began to have concerns with his memory and difficulty in making decisions. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 18 months ago and so we are on this challenging journey again. While he doesn’t generally remember his diagnosis, he has allowed us to help manage his responsibilities and we’re grateful he lives in a facility where great care is available. It has been difficult as he has been very limited in his ability to get out or see visitors throughout the pandemic, but he’s fully vaccinated now and restrictions are easing, so we’re trying to make the most of our time together.
We participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in 2019 and 2020 in honor of our parents. The more we learned about the Alzheimer’s Association, the more we wished we had known about the incredible resources they offered and the more we wanted to help their efforts to find a cure.
We’re grateful to everyone who has joined with us to make an impact, whether on a committee, leading a walk team or making a donation. We look forward to the day there is a cure.
We are grateful to Kerry and Kristin for joining the fight to end Alzheimer’s. Lead the way to a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia by joining us this fall at a Walk to End Alzheimer’s near you. Register your team today at alzwa.org/walk.