[caption id="attachment_5027" align="alignright" width="214"] Marilyn in Scotland[/caption]
My mother Marilyn was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in her late 60s, but I recognized that something was wrong in her mid-60s. She had been displaying signs of nervousness and was more forgetful than usual. She had always been a very outgoing and confident woman who dressed very fashionably. One day I noticed that her skirt hem was hanging and that she wasn't taking the same care in her appearance. My mother succumbed to Alzheimer's disease one year ago. She was 82 when she died.
Now I am in my mid-60s. After experiencing what happened to my mother, I wouldn't want anyone else to have to go through what she did. When she began wandering and leaving their home, my stepfather couldn't keep up with her, and she was moved to a memory care facility. While there, she broke her hip. That led to three years in bed, never walking or talking again.
Every story about Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking.
We all have to watch someone we love slowly disappear. My family wasn’t even given a respite. One year ago, my stepfather too was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Our family’s first reaction was: "Oh no, not again!" It seems like almost no one we know is unaffected by this disease in some way. That is why I walk.
I have walked in Walk to End Alzheimer’s for eight years and have raised over $35,000.
I am an artist and have put on shows in which I have donated 100% of the proceeds to the cause. I collect for Forget-Me-Not Days and traveled to Springfield, Illinois this year to implore legislators to procure more funding for the Alzheimer’s Association. I never knew that raising funds for Alzheimer's would become my passion. I walk because my mother was my best friend. I walk because she couldn’t walk for herself. I walk because I know she would have done the same thing for me.
It feels like we have rounded a corner. It seems like Alzheimer's is finally getting the attention it deserves.
I have faith that a cure will be found. That takes a lot of funding and research, but I believe that if everyone who has any connection to Alzheimer’s would walk and spread the word by advocating on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Association, the cure might come faster. I have rarely met anyone who hasn’t been touched by this memory-robbing disease. We need to fight for all those people who can no longer speak for themselves, like my mother and so many others. We must walk.
About the Author: Together with her family and friends, Judy Steed is participating in Walk to End Alzheimer’s with her team “Marching for Marilyn.” You can visit Judy’s Walk page here.