By Hannah White
A few months before I was born, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Needless to say, I was made aware of this disease at a very young age. My mom, who was one of her caregivers, would always take me for visits to my grandma’s house as she was still functioning at that stage of the disease, but she could not be left alone. My grandma would spend her days with us or my relatives, and at night she would go back home where another family member would stay with her. My mother was very honest with me about what grandma was going through, and taught me to always treat her with dignity and respect. Once she was at the stage where she could no longer be by herself, my family members made the difficult decision of placing her in a nursing home.
Some of my earliest memories are of visiting my grandma at the nursing home. To me, the nursing home was just another place where my grandma lived. As a mother of eleven children, I always felt she enjoyed having me around because she had been so used to caring for own children her whole life. My presence gave her a sense of comfort.
My grandmother passed away when I was only five years old. From that point on, I was very familiar with Alzheimer’s disease and how it affected everyone differently. Not only have I seen how it affects those who are diagnosed, but their loved ones as well. I don’t want anyone else to go through what my family had to go through. I started my own Walk to End Alzheimer’s team four years ago, as I made a promise to my grandma to do whatever I could to help end Alzheimer’s. After volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association on my chapter’s Walk Committee, I turned my passion into a career, and now I work for them as a communications specialist out of the Peoria office. Join me and thousands of other Illinois residents as we lace up our shoes and Walk to End Alzheimer’s this fall.
The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s — Northwoods Community Church — will take place on Saturday, October 12 at 10700 N. Allen Rd. in Peoria. The Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter has 25 different walks across the state. For more information, or to register visit alz.org/illinois or call the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapters’ Peoria office at 309-681-1100.