It's a mind-robbing disease for which there is no cure, but you can help fight Alzheimer’s one step at a time right here at home.
The number is staggering. Alzheimer’s hits one in 10 people over the age of 65, and one in six after that. It's a problem that is only going to get larger with baby boomers aging.
One South Bend family is fighting this terrible disease and hoping you'll join this weekend's Alzheimer’s family walk at Newton Park.
Paula Abraham knew something was wrong with her 84-year-old mother when she first started forgetting important dates, like her daughter's birthday.
Her mother, Pauline, was formerly a St. Joseph High School teacher. She now spends her days looking at family pictures of people that she no longer knows.
She moved into Morning View nursing home in South Bend after her husband died in January. They were married for 66 years and Abraham said taking care of her mother took a toll.
“It's been a very long journey the last six years she was diagnosed,” said Abraham. “She would forget what day she was subbing. And she would have to call someone and say, I forget how this computer works.”
A brain scan showed Pauline had vascular dementia.
Abraham, who serves on the board of the Alzheimers and dementia Services of Northern Indiana, wants people to know that a lot has changed with medication since her mom was diagnosed.
But there is still no cure, and that is why charity walks, and supporting Alzheimer's and Dementia Services of Northern Indiana are so important.
“All the money raised in this walk stays in this area,” said Abraham.
It goes to services like the one Abraham’s family used when her mother was first diagnosed. They took her to Milton adult day care center, where services are free and there is support for anyone dealing with Alzheimer's or anyone who isn't sure what they are dealing with.
“If it's brand new to you, then you don't know, and it's good to have a professional tell you or people who deal with it everyday, than a friend who, yeah my mom had it,” said Abraham.
Abraham said that Alzheimers services and Pauline's new home at Morning View have been a godsend.
“It has been a blessing for this family and a lot of families that I see come in and out of here and there,” she said
Abraham admits that watching someone you know and love forget all the things that they also knew and loved is difficult, but knowing they are well cared for is priceless.
“The best way we can deal with it is to keep her as happy as she can be,” she said.
And for the rest of us, she said, it's important to remember something her dad always told the grand kids about his beloved wife.
“She's the same person. your grandmother or mother has not lost her mind. She has her mind, her memory might be off but she still has her mind.”
Enough to know when her daughter, who loves her in spite of her disease, needs a hug
The Alzheimers family walk is this Saturday at Newton Park in Lakeville. Close to 500 people are expected to walk, and Abraham's family is walking for her mom with a group called "Pauline's pals."
Breakfast and registration are at 8:30am and the walk starts at 9:30am.
For more information about the walk and the Alzheimer's and Dementia Services of Northern Indiana, click on the big red bar on the WNDU.com homepage.