By Becky Scott, Walk to End Alzheimer’s® participant
My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the spring of 2011. At the time, Mom and Dad were living in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is where they had planned on spending their retirement years. However, Mom’s diagnosis prompted their return to Eastern Washington because, as a family, we felt it was important that Mom be close to us, and we didn’t want our dad to have to go through this alone.
Before Mom’s “official” diagnosis, we, as a family, noticed little things. My mom was always very social, the type of person who could carry on a conversation with anyone, and she loved to read. However, she started becoming less social and wasn’t reading as much as she used to. It was alarming to the family when we saw these changes in her.
When we began seeing the doctor about these changes, one of my biggest frustrations was the lack of urgency her doctor exhibited in finding a diagnosis. The doctors told us several times that nothing was wrong, that this was all just the natural aging process. I believe the medical community is more diligent now in their testing, and I hope they listen to the families seeking care more. No one knows the individual better than their family.
For me, the most challenging part of this journey, outside of losing my mom, was the process of watching her slowly disappear. Here is this person you have looked up to your whole life, who you asked for help with homework and advice on raising your kids, and suddenly they don’t even know who they are anymore. For the last three years that Mom was with us, she didn’t know me, but she knew my dog, and her whole face would light up when my dog would enter the room. As we were going down this road, I lived about 4 hours away, and the dog and I would make visits on the weekends. We always joked that I was the dogs ‘Driver”.
As a family, we were fortunate, and I can’t believe I am using that word in association with this disease, but we were fortunate in many ways. We didn’t have to deal with the anger, frustration and hostility from Mom that many families have to deal with. For the most part, Mom was pretty content and easy to be around. Something that meant so much to our family was that our dad was able to keep Mom at home until the last four months that she was with us. We lost her in December of 2017.
Finding Support Through the Alzheimer’s Association
My dad became aware of the Alzheimer’s Association through Aging and Adult Services in Wenatchee. The support group that the Alzheimer’s Association offered was a big help to my dad. He continued to go to their meetings for about six months after we lost Mom. This connection introduced us to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
Walking to End Alzheimer’s
Our first time participating in the Wenatchee Walk to End Alzheimer’s was in 2015; we have walked every year since. Our team consists of local family and friends, but we even have friends that travel from the midwest to walk with us.
I love having a little competition between myself and one of the captains of another team. We have a lot of fun seeing who can raise the most money and whose team can recruit more people to attend.
I walk because I want people to realize how devastating this disease is to the person fighting and living with it and their entire family. Alzheimer’s and dementia touches everyone who knows the person diagnosed in one way or another. You could be a caregiver, spouse, child, coworker, or just a friend, and this disease will touch you in some way.
I firmly believe we are close to not only finding new ways to fight the progression of the disease but that we will find a cure. That gives me hope. That is why I Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
Join Becky and hundreds of others as we Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Wenatchee, WA, on September 10.