Debbie M. - I am a Warrior Now

The year 2014 was an extremely hard year for me....
I lost my 86-year mother to a 10-year journey with Parkinson's - - - with the last 3 years in which she also suffered from Alzheimer's. She was so kind, loved to draw and paint. She volunteered as a 4-H advisor and a Girl Scout leader....always sharing her love of art with the children of our community.
JULY 2014:
After an 8-year battle, I lost my loving husband of 44 years to Frontal Temporal Dementia. An alum of The Ohio State University with a degree in History, he had been a teacher and basketball coach, then an international buyer for F & R Lazarus (now Macy's) for 5 years, and a Kroger manager for the next 26 years. Simply put, Tom loved life and lived it to its fullest. Because he loved our hometown so much, he believed in "giving back to one's community." Thus, not only was he a store manager, but simultaneously served 3 elected terms on City Council and then 3 consecutive terms as County Commissioner. Working 7 days a week, he always found time for our family, friends and our church.

Admittedly, I never, ever dreamed I would be a caregiver to my mother (86 years old) and my husband (68 years old) during the same time period in my life. Nor did I ever dream I would lose both of them in the same year.
As I became over-whelmed, I call the Alzheimer's Association in Columbus, OH.  I began attending two (2) Support Group Meetings; i.e., one (1) for Alzheimer's and one (1) for Frontal Temporal Dementia (sometimes called Pick's Disease) at the Columbus Alzheimer's Office. Our mentor, Anne Bare, was wonderful, wise, and a superior confidant, as we each discussed our issues. She was knowledgeable and helped us handle the various problems that seemed unceasing.
I then began attending an Alzheimer's Support Group meeting 50 miles away from Columbus in my own hometown of Mount Vernon, OH. I was immediately contacted by people in my community and learned that many others were dealing with exactly the same issues as I in caring for dementia patients. The leader of our group, Joyce Thomas, is a Social Worker. She has worked for numerous nursing homes and also for Hospice. She is a great friend and has volunteered her time for over 12 years to this support group.
I learned that there are many heroes in life..... and loving caregivers are truly heroes. With over 100 types of Alzheimer's and other dementias identified by our scientists today, we are in the middle of a RISING EPIDEMIC. We are in a CRISIS. Sadly, DEMENTIA IS A ROBBER. It robs each patient of his/her memory, their independence, personality, and the ability to walk, talk, stand up, sit down, etc.  In other words, it robs these people of the very essence of their individual being.
As a caregiver, I can attest to the fact that it can and does rob caregivers of their own health. Six (6) out of ten (10) caregivers die before their loved ones afflicted with the disease. Alzheimer's will bankrupt not only families, but will bankrupt both Medicare and Medicaid. The costs are staggering. A new case is diagnosed every 67 seconds. We don't have enough $$$$ to find a cure.
With the training and knowledge I have gained, I now help mentor our local Alzheimer's Support Group. I've never thought of myself as being a WARRIOR, but I AM A WARRIOR NOW TO HELP FIND CURES FOR ALZHEIMER'S AND ALL DEMENTIAS.
Tags: Spouses and Partners Sons and Daughters Activists