Kay’s Why I Walk Story | Tri-Cities Walk to End Alzheimer’s
“Alzheimer’s made me an orphan. My Dad had Alzheimer’s and my Mom was his caregiver. She wore herself out mentally and physically and wouldn’t accept help. It took such a toll on her that she passed away quite suddenly. That’s when we found out Dad’s Alzheimer’s was much worse than we knew. We had 24-hour care in his home for about a year but after he attacked a caregiver, his doctor advocated to move him into memory care. He passed away about 2 years after Mom.”
Kay Lehmann has felt the devastating impacts that Alzheimer’s has not only on the individual living with the disease but on their caregivers as well.
“The first struggle was to get an accurate diagnosis. Dad was just savvy enough to pass the questions about current events and remember some words. The family had to write letters to his doctor explaining all the things we had witnessed and that helped get a diagnosis. The next struggle was trying to get Mom to allow care into their home. We failed at that and I am convinced it cost us Mom’s life.”
After her mom died, Kay became the de facto caregiver and advocate for her dad. She recalls turning to the Alzheimer’s Association website often for resources and information. Since then, her involvement and connection with the Alzheimer’s Association has only become stronger.
Walking to End Alzheimer’s
After initially starting a team 7 years ago for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Kay Lehman has now chaired the Tri-Cities Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the past 5 years. She is also a dedicated board member of the Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter.
“I am determined to see the end of Alzheimer’s before I leave this planet. I tell people that will only happen if I deputize everyone I meet to help me end this disease. To end Alzheimer’s, we have to advocate, raise money, and volunteer for clinical trials,” says Kay.
A Glimmer of Hope
When asked what gives her hope to continue fighting, Kay quickly points to Alzheimer’s research.
“Oh my gosh, the research over the last couple of years gives me real hope! I had full-body chills when Dr. Joanne Pike (Alzheimer’s Association CEO) talked about prevention, treatment, and the glimmer of a cure. No one had ever said “cure” in such an address in my memory. And the research coming out about blood tests, which I first heard about 3 years ago (very preliminary back then), and the new treatments have me believing we can get people diagnosed early, provide treatment, and help them hold on to that cure. Three years ago that was just a wispy dream!”
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is not only an incredible way to bring individuals living with the disease, caregivers, and our community together, but it also raises money crucial to funding research that is getting one step closer to finding a cure for this terrible disease.
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When we share our story, we remind others that they are not alone. Share your story, find your community and inspire others. Share your “Why I Walk” story here.