It started with a few little things.
Grandmom would quickly put on her coat and hat, thinking she was late for choir rehearsal. In fact, she hadn’t been a part of the church choir for years.
After she moved in with my aunt and we would go over for family gatherings, Grandmom would stay in her chair. She occasionally offered a nervous laugh during our conversations, but mostly stared off into space, unsure of her surroundings.
Toward the end of her life, my grandmother wandered aimlessly through my aunt’s house and was finally bedridden until her death on September 25, 2003.
Anyone with an unfortunate connection to Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia knows this story well. Alzheimer’s steals away a person’s memory, dignity and eventually, his or her life. And for the majority of families who either can’t afford or can’t bear to put their loved one in an assisted living facility, the major emotional and financial stress of caregiving falls on them.
There is a place to turn for people struggling with this disease. The Alzheimer’s Association is a national organization with chapters in all 50 states. We are devoted to our mission of eliminating Alzheimer’s disease by advancing research, providing and enhancing care and support for all affected and by reducing the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.
The Maryland office is located in Timonium and provides support services for 19 counties. Here are some good informational items to know:
- For those seeking immediate assistance, either for yourself or a loved one with dementia, please call our 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900. To contact the Maryland Chapter directly, call 410-561-9099.
- Check out the Maryland Chapter’s website:www.alz.org/maryland. If you click the ‘Support Groups’ tab, you will find information on the support groups that meet monthly in Baltimore County.
- On Saturday, October 12, Oregon Ridge Park will host the 2013 Greater Baltimore Walk, one of six annual fundraising walks in Maryland. People can register as individuals or a team and raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. It’s always a day full of inspiration and fun! Check out the Greater Baltimore Walk website: act.alz.org/BaltimoreWalk.
I wish I had known about the Alzheimer’s Association while my grandmother was dealing with a disease that slowly took her away from us. I now work for the Association in her memory to reach out to as many families as possible. The most important message I can give to those people who are currently living a similar story is you are NOT alone.