By: Emily Wisner
Last month, Maureen Murphy hosted a Longest Day event in Fairbury, Illinois called “Purple Lemonade.” She said, “The color purple for Alzheimer’s awareness made me think I could color our lemonade purple to make more of a statement.” One of her coworkers proposed a bake sale to go with the lemonade, and another coworker suggested selling t-shirts. They combined their three ideas into one event and began preparing for The Longest Day.
Purple Lemonade raised just over $2,000 with donations from well over 100 people. Of the money they raised, $1880 went directly to the Alzheimer’s Association, and the remainder, which was raised from the t-shirt sales, will be donated for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in September. “I was hoping we would have a big impact in making more people aware of Alzheimer’s and dementia—and we did!” said Maureen. “With a handful of girls helping at the event and many behind the scenes supporting us, we had an awesome day.”
Not only does Maureen host dementia fundraisers in her spare time, but she also works as a licensed practical nurse at a dementia care facility. “My motivation in dedicating so much of my life to this cause is that I am hoping someday there will be a cure for this devastating disease,” Maureen said. “I have witnessed so many family and friends that have suffered from some form of dementia. Without people like me willing to contribute love, caring, time, and money, there would be no hope for a cure.”
Maureen has worked at Fairview Haven, a skilled nursing facility, for five years. Last August, they opened Serenity Villa specifically for residents living with dementia, which is where Maureen works now as an LPN. “My favorite part of the job is interacting with my residents, learning about them and from them,” she said. “I love to hear their stories, meet their families, and learn about their histories. We are a small, family orientated facility with a family style dining arrangement. Every day when I come to work I love to smell what is being cooked for breakfast, lunch, and supper, and help our residents to eat and engage in conversation.”
Maureen believes that education is critical when caring for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. “The more I learn about this disease, the more I am able to help my residents, their families, myself, and other caregivers to be able to manage all aspects of this disease while caring for those afflicted with it,” she said. “The Alzheimer’s Association has played a big role in my involvement with Alzheimer’s disease through the education I have received through the care training resources and other education programs. I am learning more each day about care and support, communication, behaviors, and dealing with caregiver stress in caring for those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. The more I learn, the more I can and want to make a difference.”