Sue Ewing pauses and thinks. It’s mid-afternoon on a hot July Friday and you can practically hear the wheels in her head turning through the phone. She’s thinking back through the years searching for an answer to a difficult question:
When did you know your mother had Alzheimer’s?
“For her it was different,” Sue says of her mother, Patsy Lause. “Anxiety and vision issues, which lead to not being self-confident and not wanting to try things. Just not my mother at all. It was a whole change in personality. She was a different person.”
Patsy’s diagnosis of Alz-heimer’s in her early 70s was nothing short of heartbreaking for her husband and seven children. There is currently no cure for the disease, and with the diagnosis the family felt their mother slipping away. But, for Sue and family, taking the news sitting down was unacceptable.
To fight back, the family created a team with the Alzheimer’s Association Washington Walk to End Alzheimer’s in 2015. They named their team “Patsy’s Prayer Partners” in honor of their mother. Soon after, they got to work raising money. In 2016 alone, the team raised almost $10,000.
Money from their efforts went toward supporting the Alzheimer’s Association’s plethora of resources available in Washington and around the country. Resources include care, support, research, awareness and advocacy for families affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Being able to contribute to these vital support systems means Sue and her family can help fund research for a cure and make the Alzheimer’s journey just a little bit easier for another family in need.
Even with her family’s fundraising success, Sue insists she and her family get just as much out of the walk as they put in — by connecting with others who have been touched by this devastating disease, Sue believes she and her family can heal.
“The comradery of everyone, the committee members, it’s everyone being a community, coming together, and supporting a phenomenal cause,” Sue says. “It helps people not feel alone in the fight.”
Today, Sue knows just how devastating and far-reaching this disease can be. “Now that I’ve been a part of it, I’m realizing how many people are affected by it,” Sue says.
In Missouri there are over 110,000 people aged 65 and older suffering from Alz-heimer’s disease. By 2025, that number is expected to jump to 130,000.
After experiencing Alz-heimer’s through her mother’s eyes, Sue says she’s learned a thing or two. Her most important lesson?
Take care of yourself, and know you’re not alone.
“Reach out,” Sue says. “Talk to people who are dealing with it. If you’re a caregiver, take time for yourself.”
Patsy, a lifelong resident of Washington, passed in October 2016 from Alzheimer’s disease. Her memory lives on in her family’s efforts to find a cure for the disease that took her.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Washington will take place Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Washington City Pavilion. Participants can register at 8 a.m., with the ceremony starting at 9 a.m. and the walk at 9:30 a.m. Participants can choose from a 1-mile or 3-mile route.
Patsy’s Prayer Partners will be walking in this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s to raise money and give to the organization that has played a crucial role in dealing with their mother’s diagnosis and healing from her loss. “I appreciate all the Alzheimer’s Association has done in helping our family and helping us answer a lot of questions that we were so confused about when we had to jump into this total chaos,” Sue concluded.
Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.
Alzheimer’s disease is a growing epidemic and the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. As baby boomers age, the number of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease will rapidly escalate, increasing well beyond today’s more than 5 million Americans to as many as 16 million by 2050.
To start or join a team today, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org/walk. To learn more about disease and available resources, call the toll-free Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.
The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Since 1989, the Alzheimer’s Association mobilized millions of Americans in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk®; now the Alzheimer’s Association is continuing to lead the way with Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s — the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alz-heimer care, support and research. Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.
Its vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org® or call 800-272-3900.