Life takes on a new meaning for the Davenport family when their matriarch Mama D. is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in Unforgettable, the new stage play that Gdavis Productions and Films, LLC and the Alzheimer’s Association have joined together to createThe dynamic and emotional stage play will showcase the effects of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and the importance of understanding early detection and participating in clinical trials.

The play will debut in Chicago, Illinois on Saturday, June 10 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center. The performance is free to the public, and in addition to the play, the Alzheimer’s Association and their partners will have information and local resources available.

Gdavis Productions has been touring the country and raising awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and caregiving in communities of color for more than 13 years with the critically acclaimed stage plays Forget Me Not and Mama’s Girls. Over the last decade, Forget Me Not has toured over 27 cities in 10 states in an attempt to close the health disparities gap in underserved and disproportionately affected communities.

“This is the next phase of what we originally started with the Alzheimer’s Association 13 years ago. To come full circle and to be in a position to take the Forget Me Not project to Unforgettable is truly a humbling moment and I am looking forward to the impact that will be made in communities of color across the nation,” said creator and award-winning playwright and filmmaker Garrett Davis.

“This is the next phase of what we originally started with the Alzheimer’s Association 13 years ago. To come full circle and to be in a position to take the Forget Me Not project to Unforgettable is truly a humbling moment and I am looking forward to the impact that will be made in communities of color across the nation,” said creator and award-winning playwright and filmmaker Garrett Davis.

Older Black Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than White Americans. Black Americans are also less likely to receive a timely diagnosis, with many receiving a diagnosis much later in the disease, when their medical needs are greater.

“Unfortunately, there’s a lack of culturally appropriate and tailored programming that resonates with Black and Hispanic/Latino audiences as it relates to Alzheimer’s and other dementia research, care and support,” said Carl V. Hill, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at the Alzheimer’s Association. “This community theater will give us the opportunity to deliver important education, awareness, support and other resources to these communities in a fun and entertaining way that will resonate well with audiences that have been vastly underserved.”

Unforgettable features a stellar cast of characters who were a part of the drama series Daddy’s Boys including Dartez Wright and Kenneth Pierce, as well as American Idol finalist Scott Savol, LeJuene Thompson from Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers, and Yesse Rodriquez from the drama series My Family.

The theme song was written by songwriter and vocalist Blanche McAllister, one of the lead singers from the Grammy award-winning group Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers.

For more information about Unforgettable and to reserve your free ticket for the performance, visit

Honoring Mother’s Day When Mom Has Alzheimer’s

Celebrating Mother’s Day, like other holidays, can be bittersweet and challenging when mom is living with Alzheimer’s. Mother’s Day, however, can remain a meaningful and enjoyable occasion for families facing Alzheimer’s and other dementia. To help these families with Mother’s Day celebrations, the Alzheimer’s Association offers these tips:

  • Take a person-centered approach. Focus on what is enjoyable for the person with Alzheimer’s, such as looking at family pictures or enjoying the person’s favorite food. If they get overwhelmed in large groups, a small quiet gathering may be preferable.
  • Keep it simple. Consider a celebration over a lunch or brunch at home or where the person is most comfortable. Ask family or friends to bring dishes for a potluck meal or have food delivered by a local restaurant or grocery store.
  • Connect with mom virtually. Schedule a FaceTime, Skype or Zoom call with mom and invite other family members to participate. Prepare ahead of time to ensure the platform you use is one your mom can access easily. Consider taking the call to the next level by adding a slideshow with favorite pictures of mom and cherished family photos.
  • Join in. If the person with Alzheimer’s lives in a care facility, consider joining in on any facility-planned activities.
  • Don’t overdo it. Sticking to the person’s normal routine will help keep the day from becoming disruptive or confusing. Depending on the person’s stamina, plan time for breaks so the person can rest in a quiet area away from noise and crowds.
  • Adapt gift giving. Encourage safe and useful gifts for the person with Alzheimer’s. If someone asks for gift ideas, suggest items the person with dementia needs or can easily enjoy. Ideas include: an identification bracelet, CDs of favorite music, comfortable clothing, favorite foods and photo albums of family and friends.
  • Find support. Many adult children may feel grief, sadness or guilt preceding or following a holiday. It can be helpful to discuss these feelings with a trusted friend or family member. The Alzheimer’s Association also offers support groups and tips for coping with caregiver depression and stress.

“It is important to celebrate all of the special mothers who have made an impact on our lives,” said Delia Jervier, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter. “Even though the celebration may be different from past celebrations, families can still provide a special day that their mothers will enjoy.”

More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, with 312,000 here in Illinois Women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s crisis with nearly two-thirds of women living with the disease and more than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers. More specifically, over one-third of dementia caregivers are daughters.

For information and support, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website at or call its 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.

Living in Amy’s world as the daughter and caregiver of a parent living with Alzheimer’s

At first, my Mom started showing signs of confusion and forgetfulness; my dad wrote it off as old age and told the family we were picking on her. In time, it became more apparent that something was wrong; my Mom had Alzheimer’s. Daily routines were forgotten, showers were dreaded, and the concept of time was lost. 

My Mom could no longer remember how to prepare food, would put away groceries in random locations, and couldn’t tell us about her day. Eventually, she started walking away from home, constantly searching for “home,” even though we never believed she would be the type to wander off. We moved my Mom to Mill Creek Alzheimer’s facility. Many people were surprised – as we hid her Alzheimer’s diagnosis for the last few years. 

My Mom broke her hip, and then her personality changed. She slapped and bit the nurses; she didn’t know where she was and why people were helping her in the bathroom. She continued looking for “home,” wanting to go, forgetting she couldn’t walk. Three tips the Alzheimer’s Association shared about talking to your healthcare professionals about Memory and Cognitive concerns are finding the right doctor, being prepared, and getting educated.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 2023 Facts and Figures report discussing cognitive concerns with your healthcare provider can be challenging. Having these conversations with a doctor can help facilitate early detection and diagnosis, offering individuals and families important benefits, not only treatments but emotional and social benefits, access to clinical trials, and more time to plan the future. It is also important to note that some forms of cognitive decline are treatable.

My Mom, Joyce Erickson, passed away from Alzheimer’s in April 2019, days after my 38th birthday. I could no longer help, visit, feed, or sit with her. Someone suggested I join the Alzheimer’s Committee to fill my time, and I was happy to help. This will be my 4th year as Event Chair for Springfield’s Walk. 

Over the years, I’ve always tried to maintain Elite Grand Champion status by fundraising at least $2,500 for team ERICKSON. I’ve posted on Facebook, written letters, hosted dine-to-donate events, sold coupon books and produce from my garden, and even “Flocked my Friends” – placing a flock of pink plastic flamingos in their yards in exchange for a donation. Why? Because there are no survivors. There is no cure because “I don’t want my son to sit with me at an Alzheimer’s facility someday.” Alzheimer’s is more than forgetting a name or a place; it’s scared, angry, frustrated, and helpless. It is a long goodbye.

For the first time in nearly two decades, there are treatments for individuals with early stages of the disease that can slow down the progression and give them more time with their families and loved ones. You can help! We can help! Join us at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and show your support. A few ways you can support is by donating money so the Alzheimer’s Association, organizing free seminars, running a toll-free hotline, continuing research, advocating for government grants, and pushing life-saving bills through Congress. Donate so you are part of the cure. Help end the disease that kills more than breast and prostate cancer combined. Please, because memories matter. 

Alzheimer’s Association Advocate, Abby, Shares Her Grandparent’s Story During Volunteer Week (April 16 – 22)

Grandparents are a crucial part of a young person’s life. Unfortunately for me, at the age of 22 and a year away from getting married, I lost all four of my grandparents, two of whom passed due to Alzheimer’s Disease. Along with this, my Dad, at the age of 70, has been recently diagnosed with MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) and a form of Lewy Body’s Disease. What has most impacted me in this fight is watching someone you’ve known your whole life, forget the core memories that you made together. 

My name is Abby Walker and I want to share my grandparents with you. In November 2017, the Monday before Thanksgiving, my Grandpa Gillespey passed away after a several year long fight with Alzheimer’s with my Grandma being his primary caretaker while both in their 80s living on their own. Some of my favorite memories with my Grandpa include spending the night at his house, calling him on the phone when I was just three years old, and having conversations with him about his time spent in the military back in the 1940s as a U.S. Merchant Marine. As his disease progressed, I frequently had to remind him of who I was and you could always find him in his recliner in the sunroom whenever my family would go visit. On the weekend before Thanksgiving of 2017, my mom sent me a text while I was at the movies stating that we were leaving as soon as possible because my Grandpa was in the hospital and would not survive much longer. A couple of days later, I sat in the room with just my Grandma and watched him take his last breath. As a high schooler, watching someone die in front of you and not being able to do anything about it really affected me and that’s when I began a deep dive in to advocating with the Alzheimer’s Association.

Five months later, my Grandma Walker passed away from Alzheimer’s. This occurred on Mother’s Day and one week before my high school graduation. The pain of her passing hit me in my core as I had always dreamed of having her at my high school graduation. I watched how hard it was for my Dad to be her medical power of attorney while maintaining a full-time job and having a family at home. Some of my favorite memories with her include riding in the basket of her bike and swimming at the pool in her trailer park in Fort Myers, Florida, having her do my hair whenever she came to visit, eating Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day meals at her nursing home, and my favorite by far, teaching me how to people watch by sitting at the front of Walmart while Mom and Dad were shopping. 

In 2017 I participated in my first Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Now in 2023, I am going on my second year of being on the planning committee for my local walk. Throughout the years I have advocated through fundraising for the Walk and the Longest Day and attended Advocacy Day at the Illinois State Capitol. Last month I had the honor and privilege of attending the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement Advocacy Forum in Washington D.C. Along with these activities, I am the 2022 American Royal Beauties National Excellence Miss and speaking about the Alzheimer’s Association is my platform and I have had the opportunity to speak about it on national stages and in the interview room. 

I am most passionate about bringing awareness of this disease to the 18-25 year old population because it is something that affects young people or most likely will in the future. I also advocate so there can be a future where grandparents and parents are there longer and to see their grandchildren and children accomplish major life achievements. If you or a loved one are suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or are a caretaker for someone who is, please reach out for support. We are in this fight together. No one fights alone. We are all praying for the day when there is a white flower in the garden representing the first survivor of Alzheimer’s. As a Political Science graduate student who is focusing on Public Policy and Public Administration, I hope that I can continue to speak for those who no longer have a voice. 

As the size of the U.S. population age 65 and older continues to grow, so too will the number and proportion of Americans with Alzheimer’s or other dementias; therefore, more volunteers are needed to help us achieve our vision. Thank you to all our volunteers throughout Illinois. We honor you and all you do to help us with our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Families Facing Alzheimer’s Find Reason to Hope at Annual Event 

Alzheimer’s Association Reason to Hope Chair, Barry Masek, has been committed to the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association since attending the 2022 luncheon and the passing of family members from Alzheimer’s. “I’m excited to Chair the 2023 Reason to Hope luncheon. I first learned of the critical mission of the Alzheimer’s Association and how they are working to provide resources, education, and hope to families affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia…in just one hour. Knowing that the disease impacts 1 out 3 Seniors and diagnoses are now earlier.  They most likely will know someone who has the disease/dementia.  If not a family member, a friend, a friend of a friend, or someone they know at work, a client, customer, or prospect.  If they don’t know someone today, they most likely will know someone with the disease sooner than later.” Barry is one of many Alzheimer’s Association volunteers dedicating their time and talents to providing hope for all those impacted by Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

Barry shares, “It is terrible to watch a loved one (or someone you know) not know who their children or grandchildren are, not know who they are, no longer can communicate/talk anymore, don’t remember how to chew and swallow food……  It is a slow, terrible death, I wouldn’t want anyone to go through. I have embraced the mission, and will continue to participate in the mission by raising awareness and funds to help achieve the goal of a world without Alzheimer’s!” 

On Thursday, April 27 at 12 p.m., Barry Masek will join hundreds of passionate supporters in changing the path of Alzheimer’s disease at Reason to Hope. “Reason to Hope” a powerful, one-hour luncheon honoring those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. This year’s event, held at the Union League Club of Chicago, is emceed by Ray Cortopassi (WGN-TV Evening News Anchor) and includes a program featuring testimonies from individuals facing Alzheimer’s, as well as updates on the vital work and research of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization providing Alzheimer’s care, support, and education completely free of charge in communities across the nation. As the largest nonprofit funder of dementia research, the Alzheimer’s Association is committed to advancing cutting-edge research around the globe. The research on Alzheimer’s and dementia is staggering. The Alzheimer’s Association 2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures reveals that more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million.

VIDEO: 2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures – 

How You Can Help

Families facing Alzheimer’s need us now more than ever. COVID-19 contributed to a 17% increase in Alzheimer’s and dementia deaths. When you make a gift to Reason to Hope, you are making a difference for the 230,000 people living with Alzheimer’s in Illinois and their 383,000 caregivers. 


Reason to Hope Sponsors are at the forefront of the fight to end Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association is proud to recognize the following Gold Sponsors for making this event possible: Chicago Blackhawks Foundation, George Joseph, and Griffith Foods. Additional support is provided by Silver Sponsors: Amsive, Bank of America Ingredion, Chicago Private Wealth Group, The Clare, Daspin Aument LLP, Dykema, Flying Food Group, Grant Thornton, Innis Law Group, Pfingsten, PNC, Radford Green, Carol Prins & John Hart, Bakertilly, Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC, Monarch Landing, and The Clare. Bronze Sponsors: Chicago Bulls – CIBC Bank – Susan G. Gallagher – Christopher and Jill Genzler – Gozdecki, Del Giudice, Americus, Farkas & Brocato LLP – Hamra Enterprises – Hearing Health Center – Mindsight – Peck Ritchey, LLC – Strategic Partnership Alliance, LTD – Sunrise Senior Living – Vista National Insurance Group, A Division of Brown and Brown of Illinois, Inc 

A brighter future is coming within reach thanks to passionate volunteers like Barry, and the impactful work of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Tammy’s Heartbreaking Journey: Sharing Her Mom’s Story with Alzheimer’s During Alzheimer’s Volunteer Week -(April 16 – April 22)

I thought I’d seen it all, but nothing prepared me for the day in February 2018 when my mom, Joan, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It all happened on the way to a craft show when she started repeating herself, and suddenly I knew something was wrong. My dad had noticed some worrying things like her needing help remembering things and writing checks. That’s when we realized it was time to get her checked out by a doctor.

I looked at the Alzheimer’s website for information and gave my mom some cognitive skill tests at home. It was worse than I had hoped: She could no longer count money back or tell me the time. We decided to go to a neurologist, and that was when it all became official: She had Alzheimer’s disease.

The neurologist confirmed no cure was available, and that’s when it hit me in the face. I felt like my heart had dropped into my stomach. To see the look on my father’s face was the second hit.

I knew this was going to be a long and difficult journey for our family. We had a good year with my mom while she was on the medication, but it started to take a toll on my father; he was tired, run-down, and not eating well. I had my mom at home during the day to care for her, but I was working from home at this time due to COVID and wanted to give my dad a rest.

We took comfort in the fact that we were not alone on this journey. I could always rely on the Alzheimer’s website for many questions and webinars to help my mom. They often had answers for us when we felt like no one else did.

One night, I was with my mom and dad playing cards with my brother. I showered my mom, washed her hair, dressed her, and got ready to tuck her into bed.

While dressing her, she asked me, “Can you get my daughter if she is still here? I want to say good night.” At that moment, my heart broke. Here was this amazing woman, yet she could not remember that I was her daughter. I walked the short distance to the kitchen, returned to the bedroom, and said with a witty yet compassionate tone, “Hi, Mom; I hear you wanted to say good night.” She looked at me lovingly and said, “Good night. I love you.” Tears filled my eyes as I responded, “I love you too, Mom.”

She then asked me if the lady caring for her and the cleaning lady were still there because she wanted to speak with them. I said yes, and at that moment, for a few minutes, we were the same three people – daughter, cleaning lady, and caregiver.

It is horrible when they look at you, and you know they have no idea who you are. Ever since then, I have been telling everyone the same two things: First, “time is the most precious gift in life!” and second, we lose our loved ones twice.

My mother passed away in May 2021, and my father passed away due to lung cancer shortly before that. I was determined to make the most of the time left with them and to help others, so I got involved with the Alzheimer’s Association to raise awareness and funds for research.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 2022 Facts and Figures report, conversations with family members and health care providers outreach and educational messages may empower individuals to seek help when they become concerned about cognitive issues. 

Community-based, participatory educational campaigns are another way to reach people who may not believe their problems are serious enough to warrant a medical visit. A dialogue between individuals with cognitive concerns, their families, and their physicians is a crucial first step on a journey toward understanding the magnitude of the issue.

The report also shows the need for care, support, and research for the 6.7 million Americans with Alzheimer’s. Behind these numbers are friends, family, and loved ones, which is the reason why I fight. My hope is that no other daughter or son ever has to face such grief, sorrow, and despair again. I vow to never forget my parents, their love and dedication, and the hope I have for a brighter future.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers free local support throughout the state, including support groups, education, and the Association’s 24/7 Helpline 1-800-272-3900. This support can be a lifeline to caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association website and the phone number were my lifelines during my difficult time. If you are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease in your family, I urge you to take advantage of these invaluable resources.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is a long, arduous journey. I hope my story helps give you the strength and courage to make the best of this time, no matter how hard it might be. Together, with the help of the Alzheimer’s Association, we can make a difference in this fight.

To our volunteers: You strengthen, empower & inspire our communities. 💜 Your stories of love and hope remind others they are not alone and move the fight to #ENDALZ forward. During #NationalVolunteerWeek and always, we thank you for being the heart of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Granddaughter runs to fight Alzheimer’s

By Rachel Ford, Attorney at Law, Alz Stars Team member

Alzheimer’s Disease didn’t burst its way into my life. It didn’t cause a huge scene when I was first impacted by it. It walked, slowly. But, as we all know, even the slow and steady turtle can make it miles and miles down the road.

My grandad, my mom’s father, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2012. Alzheimer’s took him slowly. At first, he would mix up people’s names (but what 80-year-old doesn’t?). Then, he walked into the wrong house while visiting my family and me. He then forgot people with whom I’d been friends 20-plus years. Finally, he forgot me and my family. Alzheimer’s took him in March of 2022, and he was the same easygoing gentleman he had always been until the very end.

My gran, my mom’s mother, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2021. She had taken care of her husband with Alzheimer’s for almost 10 years prior to her diagnosis, so it seemed incredibly unfair she had to deal with this terrible disease, too. The isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to speed up her memory loss compared to my grandad. She still remembers my family and me on our weekly Zoom call, but she already forgets my friends she has known for decades. She isn’t as easy to deal with as my grandad was; she calls her banks so many times they think she’s fraudulent and freeze her accounts. My mom, her power of attorney, has spent hours on the phone with my gran’s banks, unfreezing her accounts.

My family lives 12 hours away from my grandparents; we live near St. Louis, Missouri, and my grandparents live near Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Even with the distance, my grandparents were a constant in my life. Up until 2015, my grandparents made the 12-hour drive to visit my family at least twice a year for around a month per visit. From around 2015 to the start of
the COVID-19 pandemic, my gran would come by herself. My grandparents didn’t miss my brother’s or my high school graduations. My gran was able to come for both my brother’s and my college graduations. I graduated law school in May 2022, and my gran wasn’t able to make the trip. It was my first graduation without either of my grandparents. I know both she and my grandad would have been there if they could have, beaming with pride in the stands. The distance between us makes it hard, but even now we make it up to visit my gran at least twice a year.

Alzheimer’s Disease takes those moments away. It slowly creeps along, stealing memories from us and its victims as time passes on. I have dedicated running my first marathon to funding research for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease. I may be slow and steady, like the way Alzheimer’s took my grandad, or I may be unexpectedly fast, like the way Alzheimer’s is taking my gran. Either way, I am grateful to be able to run and make a small difference in our hopes to find a cure.

If you would like to support Rachel in her marathon, go to:


The Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter will host Release The Silence Conference on Saturday, April 22, 2023. Conference is designed to educate our community, future caregivers, and the healthcare industry about Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The conference is designed for those who are caregivers of a person with Alzheimer’s, individuals who want to learn more about the disease as well as professionals wanting to understand the health disparities which affect individuals in the African American community.

Alzheimer’s Association Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Carl V. Hill, Ph.D., MPH, will share his insight on the work he is leading to strengthen the Association’s outreach to all populations with emphasis on providing underserved and disproportionately affected communities with resources and support to address the Alzheimer’s crisis.

“Our community is facing a major challenge: how to deal with the growing number of African-Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and how best to support their unpaid family caregivers. Alzheimer’s disease impacts all races and ethnicities, but African-Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared to Caucasians,” said Delia Jervier, Executive Director Alzheimer’s Association, Illinois Chapter. 

Topics covered will include: the Alzheimer’s & dementia journey, managing the caregiving role and navigating healthcare systems, addressing the latest treatment options, myths and misconceptions about the disease, knowing the signs and symptoms, and much more.

In partnership with: Chi Eta Phi, Alpha Eta Chapter – The Kroc Center – Scottish Rite Prince Hall Masons and MyOwnDoctor.

The Alzheimer’s Association is committed to providing access to resources and information to communities who need it the most and this event is part of this effort.  Registration: 

The Kroc Community Center Chicago
1250 W. 119th Street
Chicago, IL 60643  
Saturday, April 22 (10:00AM – 2:00PM)