For 14 years Therese Rohan's husband, Don, has suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Thursday night was about remembering him as the loving and funny guy he was before this disease. “He still reaches out when somebody passes in the nursing home, he'll reach out to them and he laughs,” Therese says with a smile. “He's basically that same wonderful person is still there.”
More than 80 people gathered in front of the Morris Performing Arts Center to take part in the National Commemorative Candle Lighting for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
Joyce Ann Conley shared a song she wrote about her grandmother. “It's called ‘If I forget to love you,’ and it's written from the prospective of someone suffering from the later stages of Alzheimer's,” Conley explains as she strums her guitar.
Joyce Ann hopes her song makes a difference to families who think, “I'm not going to visit them because they don't know me anyway or what's the difference?”
“It makes a difference to them,” she says.
Alzheimer's Services of Northern Indiana offers support groups and education to victims and their families in 14 Indiana counties. “The estimate is about 36,000 people throughout Northern Indiana,” explains director Bill Jack. “We know there's over 7,000 people in South Bend and the St. Joseph County area who are dealing with Alzheimer's, and that is vastly under reported.”
For every one person diagnosed there are dozens more touched, who are family members, caregivers and friends.
The hope is that a reversing treatment can be found someday soon, before victims now suffering are forced to watch helplessly as their mind's light flickers out.
Call the Alzheimer's Services of Northern Indiana at (574) 232-4121; toll-free (888) 303-0180 or visit them online.