I grew up going to my grandma and grandpa's house regularly - especially during the summers. I was so close with them, but especially my grandma. I have so many wonderful memories of going fishing at Troy Township Park, shopping at St. Clair Square, walking up to Dairy Haven in Caseyville, my grandma doing my hair (she was a beautician), spending holidays together, gardening, making sugar cookies or her coffee cake....the list goes on! While I was in college, I saw my grandma progressing more with the disease. When I moved back home to start grad school is close to the time when we realized she could no longer live on her own - we would get her groceries and visit her frequently, but it was no longer safe for her to be home alone. My grandma moved in with my mom and dad for a while before she transitioned into a memory care unit. We visited her often while she was in the facility - we would play dominoes a lot the first year or two that she was there - it was one of her favorites. I could always still get glimpses of her recognizing little things - even at the last visit we had with her, despite her no longer being verbal at that time. I always hold those memories close to my heart and every year around Christmas, I think of her even more since that is the time of year she passed away.
A big part of the reason I work at the Alzheimer's Association is because of my grandma and knowing the impact the disease had on not just her but also my family. I know how important those calls were from the local chapter to my mom to just check in and see how she was doing as my grandma was progressing with the disease. I work here because I believe in what we do on a daily basis for people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia and their loved ones.
I'm helping to lead the way to the Alzheimer's first survivor by not just the work I do, but also by participating in the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's®. Currently, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's and that number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050. Our future is at risk unless we can find a way to change the course of this disease.
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