A lot has changed for Laura’s mother since her Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, but one thing that hasn’t changed is her love of singing. In fact, both her mother and grandmother used music as a way to connect to their family during their struggles with Alzheimer’s disease. “Both of them loved singing, so that is one thing I did with my grandmother that I still do with my mom,” says Laura. “She even sings harmony sometimes.”
Since Laura’s family has been greatly impacted by this disease, Laura has participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the past three years. She walks to demonstrate how meaningful it is to care for her mother. “I have been blown away with how generous my friends have been to support us,” Laura shared. She was surprised by how many of her friends also have family members who are impacted by dementia.
People living with Alzheimer’s and dementia experience a variety of symptoms, and the degree to which a person’s life is affected can be severe. Such is the case with Laura’s mother. Laura saw her mom’s ability to care for herself gradually decline to the point that it felt like a burden on her dad, who had been her mom’s best friend for 70 years. It was very hard at first when they had to change their living arrangements so that Laura’s mom could receive the skilled nursing care she needed. But as her mom’s needs continue to increase, Laura saw it is a blessing that both her parents were happy in their new environments. “Dad read Mom poetry and sang to her over an Alexa device during the pandemic and now he visits every evening.” Laura realizes the day may come when her mother is no longer able to speak, but she is hopeful that she will continue singing even beyond that day.
Laura points out that 1 in 3 people have cognitive issues as they age, so many people and their loved ones will be affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia. “If it’s not you personally, it will be a family member,” says Laura. “If it’s not a family member, it will be a neighbor, a congregation member, or a friend.”
She believes that if communities can understand the frequent impact Alzheimer’s disease has on people’s lives, they can provide better support and compassion for those with the disease and their families. “The work that the Alzheimer’s Association does is critical for finding pharmaceutical solutions that will forestall cognitive decline as well as reducing the stigma associated with Alzheimer’s.” Her participation in Walk to End Alzheimer’s is one way to help realize that goal.
In addition to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Laura has participated in the Reason to Hope luncheon which benefits the work of the Alzheimer’s Association. The annual one-hour event gives attendees a chance to learn about the work the Alzheimer’s Association does, including the support it provides to families like Laura’s. It also highlights some of the latest advances in research related to Alzheimer’s disease.
To find out more about the Reason to Hope Luncheon, please click here.
To participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and get more details about creating or joining a team please click here.
Contributor: Ellen Grover, Alzheimer’s Association Volunteer