Love, Life and Memory Loss
When I heard the theme for Paisley’s September issue would be #AgainstAllOdds and since I write about seniors, the first person who came to mind was Ernie Andrus. At age 95, Ernie, a WWII Navy Veteran, has graced us in the Golden Isles at least twice now during his treks across the country. His determination and will to keep going is such an inspiration, but he is not the only senior citizen who makes me think of perseverance.
For inspiration, next is a couple I met a few years ago. The husband called me because he needed help caring for his wife who was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. She was in the early stages then and could still go along on bike rides, yet could not be left unattended. This darling husband needed a break from being a 24/7 caregiver. He needed time to hit the links with the boys, or catch up with pals over cocktails, without worrying that something tragic was going to happen to his wife. Little did he know very soon after seeking care for her, he himself would be faced with a diagnosis of cancer. He knew he couldn’t let it beat him. Who would be left to care for his cherished wife the way he did? He went through many rounds of chemotherapy. He has beaten his cancer and is in remission, but his journey was not an easy one. He now spends his days visiting with the love of his life in a facility because her Alzheimer’s has progressed so drastically that staying at home was no longer a viable option. This December they will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. As a hopeless romantic myself, this story of how he fought cancer and won to be with her until the end is what I consider to be against all odds.
Five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease. There is no known cure at this point, and the only drugs on the market only slow its progression. Nearly 82 percent of seniors think it is important to get their memory checked, but only 16 percent regularly receive cognitive assessments. There are several warning signs to watch out for which can be very subtle in the beginning. Some people live for many years with the disease and once they receive their diagnosis, often begin to plan for their lives when they can no longer remember. Every 65 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s, which kills more people in America than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
On October 19th, the Glynn County Alzheimer’s Association is hosting its annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Neptune Park on St. Simons Island. This is a good way to show support for family caregivers who are actively living and breathing the routine of caring for a loved one who is fighting a battle that there is not yet a way to conquer. Please get involved and register now: The Walk to End Alzheimer’s www.georgiawalk.org.