Out of the Heartache of Alzheimer’s, Passion Leads to a Legacy

My name is David Myers, and my wife Cheryl was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2012 at the age of 47.  Being diagnosed at such a young age creates many issues that I was not prepared for.  We have two children who were 20 and 17 when Cheryl was diagnosed and were at the age where they were just starting to enjoy hanging out with their mother.  Our family and friends rallied around us and supported us through her Alzheimer’s journey, trying to fill the void. 

If you had told me the kinds of things I’d have to do for her, I would have said I couldn’t do it. But I did do them, and I overcame things that I would’ve struggled to do for anyone else. After 32 years, I truly believe that there was nothing I wouldn’t do for her.

It takes an emotional toll.  But there is a financial toll as well.  There are many things I worried about financially.  We prepared for the worst and hoped for the best.  

We were able to keep Cheryl at home throughout her journey by utilizing in-home care.  We received assistance from the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services, which came in and evaluated our situation.  This service is available for people under the age of 60 that receive a dementia diagnosis.

What happened to us wasn’t something you’d expect.  No one would expect it.  But there are many unexpected things that happen in life.  I would encourage others to get their financial affairs in order before there’s ever a need.

I was afraid to talk to anybody about my finances for fear that they would say to me “what were you thinking?”  I didn’t want anyone to tell me I should have done better.  Luckily, we had life insurance, and after Cheryl passed away, I needed help in making sure that money was there for my kids.  

I did not know anything about finances, so I finally bit the bullet and scheduled an appointment with a financial advisor, and we had a conversation about priorities, passions, and future plans.  We really didn’t talk about money until the end just so they knew what I had.  They gave me things to think about that I had never contemplated, like when you take social security and things like that.  

I am now better prepared for my future, and I have options I never knew were possible.  But it’s not just about finances, it’s about a cause I believe in and spend an abundance of my time and efforts giving to the Alzheimer’s Association for the work they do and the desire I have to walk alongside others on this journey we call Alzheimer’s.

I have had many roles with the Association as a volunteer, organizer, and a leader.  From organizing the   Cheryl’s Holy Walkamolies Alzheimer’s Walk Team (follow link for information on the walk or to donate), to providing educational webinars and educational programs to groups that want to know more. 

I even helped start a support group just for men that are taking care of their wives. I’ve found only men going through similar circumstances understand, and it’s easier to open up and share.  This all led to being asked to join the Illinois Board of Directors for the Association to assist with building Alzheimer’s support down state.  In this role, I’m committed to making a difference in helping others with the best way to care for those affected by this disease.  

A very personal part of my mission in fighting Alzheimer’s was born out of a personal experience my wife and I shared together.   Cheryl and I got our first motorcycle as a married couple right after she was diagnosed and spent many hours together just riding and enjoying our time even after she couldn’t communicate.  Because that was something we enjoyed, I started the “We’re Alz Ridin For a Cure” Motorcycle ride to raise support and awareness for the disease.  July 23 we are adding a car show to the ride and will be starting and ending at BloNo Pizza in Bloomington, Il.  If you ride, or just like cars, trucks and motorcycles, please come out and support us.  We will have silent auctions, pizza, and the bar will be open.

 My number one goal is to raise money and awareness for the support of those living with Alzheimer’s and all the money raised stays here in central Illinois.

If you have questions or need assistance, please call 800-272-3900 anytime and someone will help you.  Seriously, these phones are manned 24 hours, 365 days a year.  Also, if you would rather check out the Alzheimer’s website, you can go to ALZ.org.  And finally, If you would like to talk about any of the above, please reach out to me at davem9@frontier.com.

This article first appeared on McBeath Financial Group’s website. Read the full article here.

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