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Living in Amy’s world as the daughter and caregiver of a parent living with Alzheimer’s

At first, my Mom started showing signs of confusion and forgetfulness; my dad wrote it off as old age and told the family we were picking on her. In time, it became more apparent that something was wrong; my Mom had Alzheimer’s. Daily routines were forgotten, showers were dreaded, and the concept of time was lost. 

My Mom could no longer remember how to prepare food, would put away groceries in random locations, and couldn’t tell us about her day. Eventually, she started walking away from home, constantly searching for “home,” even though we never believed she would be the type to wander off. We moved my Mom to Mill Creek Alzheimer’s facility. Many people were surprised – as we hid her Alzheimer’s diagnosis for the last few years.

My Mom broke her hip, and then her personality changed. She slapped and bit the nurses; she didn’t know where she was and why people were helping her in the bathroom. She continued looking for “home,” wanting to go, forgetting she couldn’t walk. Three tips the Alzheimer’s Association shared about talking to your healthcare professionals about Memory and Cognitive concerns are finding the right doctor, being prepared, and getting educated.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 2023 Facts and Figures report discussing cognitive concerns with your healthcare provider can be challenging. Having these conversations with a doctor can help facilitate early detection and diagnosis, offering individuals and families important benefits, not only treatments but emotional and social benefits, access to clinical trials, and more time to plan the future. It is also important to note that some forms of cognitive decline are treatable.

My Mom, Joyce Erickson, passed away from Alzheimer’s in April 2019, days after my 38th birthday. I could no longer help, visit, feed, or sit with her. Someone suggested I join the Alzheimer’s Committee to fill my time, and I was happy to help. This will be my 4th year as Event Chair for Springfield’s Walk. 

Over the years, I’ve always tried to maintain Elite Grand Champion status by fundraising at least $2,500 for team ERICKSON. I’ve posted on Facebook, written letters, hosted dine-to-donate events, sold coupon books and produce from my garden, and even “Flocked my Friends” – placing a flock of pink plastic flamingos in their yards in exchange for a donation. Why? Because there are no survivors. There is no cure because “I don’t want my son to sit with me at an Alzheimer’s facility someday.” Alzheimer’s is more than forgetting a name or a place; it’s scared, angry, frustrated, and helpless. It is a long goodbye.

For the first time in nearly two decades, there are treatments for individuals with early stages of the disease that can slow down the progression and give them more time with their families and loved ones. You can help! We can help! Join us at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and show your support. A few ways you can support is by donating money so the Alzheimer’s Association, organizing free seminars, running a toll-free hotline, continuing research, advocating for government grants, and pushing life-saving bills through Congress. Donate so you are part of the cure. Help end the disease that kills more than breast and prostate cancer combined. Please, because memories matter. 

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Alzheimer's Association Illinois Chapter

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