Alzheimer's is a horrible disease that slowly took our mother's life. That's why I'm still biking (in my 70's) as many miles as I can to raise money for research for Alzheimer's (or any type of dementia)! I am also active in volunteering on the ALZ RIDE NEW ENGLAND committee to help plan for and promote this ride.
I watched as my mother changed dramatically over time. At first, as she began to change, my brothers and I didn’t know what it was, but later we realized something was seriously wrong and we found out that she had Alzheimer’s after bringing her to a specialist. Unfortunately, her regular doctor considered it a part of normal aging, which it was not. Although she was very good at compensating and hiding the things she was having difficulty with in the earlier stages, it soon became impossible for her to cover up these difficulties because of how far along the disease had progressed. It became more evident after our dad died. We understood that it was unsafe for her to be living on her own.
Thankfully, my older brother, Phil, lived nearby and my younger brother, John, and I were able to support him in the difficult decisions that needed to be made. She slowly lost her ability to do things she took pride in doing, like cooking and baking, socializing successfully with others, managing money, and cleaning. Her behavior became more erratic and confusing. Here was a woman who always took care of others and was very independent, but now she needed help with even the most basic of tasks.
Realizing what would happen as the disease progressed, I made my mom a pictorial memory book so she would know her children and grandchildren, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, but soon she couldn’t even recognize them. My mother was always physically strong, but gradually she lost her ability to walk and feed herself.
It was horrible to see such a slow painful decline in her abilities that eventually led to her death on June 3, 2007. One of her sisters had also died from this disease and a cousin recently died, also; it can run in families. Many who have supported me in the past, and many who will support me this year, know someone who has been affected. Over 6 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and as our population continues to age this number will only grow.
This will be my 13th year riding to help raise funds that are desperately needed to further Alzheimer’s research so that others will not need to go through what we experienced. I join a wonderful team of riders every year who share the grief of this disease and who are fighting against it. 90% of the funds raised from this ride go to scientists and doctors to do research, with the remaining 10% for programs to help Alzheimer’s patients and their families. This research is for possible tests that can be used in earlier detection and hopefully a cure at some point. I have participatied in research studies at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's, which are funded through this ride.
I hope to be including YOU on my support team! No amount is too small or too large and all contributions are fully tax-deductible. I appreciate your donation.