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Granddaughter runs to fight Alzheimer’s

By Rachel Ford, Attorney at Law, Alz Stars Team member Alzheimer’s Disease didn’t burst its way into my life. It didn’t cause a huge scene when I was first impacted by it. It walked, slowly. But, as we all know, even the slow and steady turtle can make it miles and miles down the road. My grandad, my mom’s father, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2012. Alzheimer’s took him slowly. At first, he would mix up people’s names (but what 80-year-old doesn’t?). Then, he walked into the wrong house while visiting my family and me. He then forgot people with whom I’d been friends 20-plus years. Finally, he forgot me and my family. Alzheimer’s took him in March of 2022, and he was the same easygoing gentleman he had always been until the very end. My gran, my mom’s mother, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2021. She had taken care of her husband with Alzheimer’s for almost 10 years prior to her diagnosis, so it seemed incredibly unfair she had to deal with this terrible disease, too. The isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to speed up her memory loss compared to my grandad. She still remembers my family and me on our weekly Zoom call, but she already forgets my friends she has known for decades. She isn’t as easy to deal with as my grandad was; she calls her banks so many times they think she’s fraudulent and freeze her accounts. My mom, her power of attorney, has spent hours on the phone with my gran’s banks, unfreezing her accounts. My family lives 12 hours away from my grandparents; we live near St. Louis, Missouri, and my grandparents live near Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Even with the distance, my grandparents were a constant in my life. Up until 2015, my grandparents made the 12-hour drive to visit my family at least twice a year for around a month per visit. From around 2015 to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, my gran would come by herself. My grandparents didn’t miss my brother’s or my high school graduations. My gran was able to come for both my brother’s and my college graduations. I graduated law school in May 2022, and my gran wasn’t able to make the trip. It was my first graduation without either of my grandparents. I know both she and my grandad would have been there if they could have, beaming with pride in the stands. The distance between us makes it hard, but even now we make it up to visit my gran at least twice a year. Alzheimer’s Disease takes those moments away. It slowly creeps along, stealing memories from us and its victims as time passes on. I have dedicated running my first marathon to funding research for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease. I may be slow and steady, like the way Alzheimer’s took my grandad, or I may be unexpectedly fast, like the way Alzheimer’s is taking my gran. Either way, I am grateful to be able to run and make a small difference in our hopes to find a cure. If you would like to support Rachel in her marathon, go to: http://act.alz.org/goto/RachRuns4ALZ

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