June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. In fact, it is America’s 6thleading cause of death. Alzheimer’s took my grandmother, Doris, from us in 2019. Here is a little about her journey.
Like many aging Americans, my grandmother struggled with her memory and a few years ago had a brain scan done. They discovered after this scan that she had Alzheimer’s and it was rapidly progressing. I watched my grandmother struggle to remember words, what and if she ate, and, eventually, struggle to remember her family. I also had to watch my mother, as my grandmother’s only surviving child, be one of an estimated 16 million Americans providing unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. The amount of work and emotional turmoil that was involved in helping take care of my grandmother as she slowly struggled to remember who my mother was is hard to measure, but the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that in 2020, Americans will provide 18.6 billion hours of unpaid care (valued at $244 billion) to Alzheimer’s or other dementia patients. Alzheimer’s is an ugly disease that slowly strips away the memories that make your loved ones who they are. I will never forget the feeling of visiting my grandmother and her having no knowledge of who I was – she showed no more feelings for me than any other person who was interacting with her that day. Although it was almost a year later before Alzheimer’s took her life, I really felt like I lost her that day.
Help me honor my grandmother, Doris, and all the loved ones that have struggled or are struggling with Alzheimer’s or other dementias by following the Alzheimer’s Association, sharing updates and facts, and partaking in their events in June and throughout the year. You can learn more about Alzheimer’s by clicking the link below and looking at our Alzheimer’s resources.