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November is National Caregiver Month. Shelbi Vidmar shares her story as a caregiver for mom Sue

My name is Shelbi and my involvement in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is a deeply personal and heartfelt journey. It began with the diagnosis and passing of my grandfather in 2007, which was a significant event that drew my attention to Alzheimer’s disease. However, my commitment deepened when my mother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2018. It prompted me to move in with mom and stepdad to provide care and support during a challenging time.

The Alzheimer’s Association played a crucial role in my journey, offering a lifeline for information, support, and connection. This led me to join the Alzheimer’s Walk committee, and found a kindred spirit in the committee head, Alison McEwen, who shared a similar experience with her father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

The impact of Alzheimer’s on my life has been profound. My mother, who was a role model, a successful businesswoman, and my closest friend, was diagnosed at a young age of 57, making it particularly difficult. Being her caregiver for nearly four years presented both challenges and meaningful moments, and it culminated in the difficult decision to place her in a memory care facility in 2022. Despite the hardships, I find solace in the moments when my mom recognizes and lights up upon seeing her family.

I believe that raising funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease is critical. Many people underestimate the disease, viewing it as something that only affects the elderly or as an inevitable part of aging. I am determined to challenge these misconceptions because Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking disease that affects both the individual and their family. I’ve actively worked to raise funds and advocate for the cause through events like my bowling fundraiser, where I raised $2,000, and additional efforts in August, bringing my total to $3,519.97.

I emphasize that Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll, killing more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, and affecting women more than men. My goal is to raise awareness and funds to find a cure for this disease and create more survivors, like my mother, who, despite her challenges, is doing relatively well at the age of 62. I highlight her love for visitors, treats, and being with her family and friends.

My story is a compelling testament to the impact of Alzheimer’s on families and the importance of continued support, advocacy, and research to combat this devastating disease.

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