Former Indiana University Chancellor Opens Up About Life With Alzheimer's
Sharon Brehm is becoming a known name in households across the United States this week. On September 9, Brehm, former Indiana University chancellor and former president of the American Psychological Association, shared her experiences with Bloomington’s The Herald-Times as a woman living with Alzheimer’s disease. Since then, the Associated Press has picked up her story and allowed it to travel around the nation.
Brehm has been hesitant to share her diagnosis with others until recently. "I thought the diagnosis was really awful, and I wanted it to just go away," she said. "I was very depressed and afraid. But now I've embraced the disease because it's me, and that makes things easier."
You can hear her speak at Bloomington’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday, September 14, at Bryan Park. She will introduce the Walk during the opening ceremony, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
"This is who I am now, and I want to make a difference," she said. "I think it's important for the community to understand more about Alzheimer's and what happens to people who have it. If I can help with that by going public, then that's what I want to do."
Start or join a team today by visiting alz.org/walk. For more information, call 800-272-3900.
To read the original article at IndyStar.com, click here.
Professional And Student Opportunities For Involvement
The Alzheimer’s Association has two exciting opportunities to announce, aimed at professionals working in the field of Alzheimer’s and students who are interested in the study of Alzheimer’s.
The first opportunity is for qualified professionals working in the field who would like to present at our upcoming Education Conference. Interested individuals are asked to submit a proposal to be considered to present at the Alzheimer’s Association Education Conference on April 25, 2014, at the Indianapolis Marriott North. We are looking for presentations on a wide variety of topics that will be presented to various audiences at the conference. For details on how to submit a proposal, . Submission deadline is November 1.
The second is for students who are interested in the study of Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter is launching an Early Investigators Research Program. This program encourages, recognizes and awards promising research projects in basic biomedical, patient-oriented, or social-behavioral research made by students enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, or post-doctoral programs in an Indiana academic institution. Three cash awards of $2500 each will be given to the students selected and they will have an opportunity to present their project at the Alzheimer’s Association Education Conference on April 25, 2014. For submission details, . Submission deadline is November 27.
Jason Hatke Represents United States at the Younger Alzheimer’s Discussion Initiative
Mike Hatke, who lives with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, escorted his son, Jason Hatke, to London for the Younger Alzheimer’s Discussion Initiative (YADI) at the end of June. YADI is a worldwide organization for adolescents affected by Alzheimer's disease, and it is in the developing stages of launching yadi.org, an Alzheimer's support website.
The YADI design team consists of representatives from The Netherlands, Australia, The Kingdom of Morocco, Indonesia, and the United States. The London trip was planned to begin designing yadi.org, and Jason was the only representative (and the youngest in the World) representing North and South America.
The site, expected to be online in 2014, will be a worldwide network for ages 8 to 30 to discuss, learn, receive and offer support. Yadi.org is currently in English and more languages will be added in the future. The site will be full of information provided by professionals and caregivers alike, such as: research progress, studies, support and shared personal stories. It also plans to encourage people from similar regions to connect and advocate ways to end dementia. Jason welcomes suggestions for yadi.org; please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sun on My Face
Sometimes we have days that make us stop and realize that we need to enjoy the simple things in life, to let go of petty things - the grudges we have, the bills that need to be paid, or the person that cut in front of you at Starbucks. Days like the one I had today remind me of some of the blessings that surround me that I too often take for granted.
Today I was taking my mom to get a haircut and to lunch. I never know how that might go, but today she was in a good mood when I picked her up. She was excited that I was taking her out. I was feeling it. It was bound to be a great day with her.
While driving to the salon, I realized just how important it is to get her out of the facility. Things that we do every day of our lives become a special outing for my mom.
I was right. It was a good day. As we drove to get her hair cut, I let her talk about whatever she wanted. Rambling away about babies, and googly wooglies, people and things I knew nothing of. She asked me questions, and I answered as best I knew how. One time she asked, “How are your brother and sister?” Well, I have a sister, but not a brother. At first I tried to figure out whom she was talking about. When she asked me the same question again, I just answered, “They are great! Keeping themselves busy!”
I never figured out whom she was talking about, but it didn’t really matter. I gave her the answer she needed to hear, the conversation that she needed. I think she just wanted to connect with me and talk and although most of what she said were bits and parts of thoughts and words, which together made little sense, I made sure I answered her in some respect. I wanted her to feel as if she were able to have a “real” conversation and that I was truly interested in her and what she was saying.
We had music on in the car. It wasn’t someone that she had ever heard, but she enjoyed the music anyway. She hummed along to the tunes. She really loved two of the songs and we played them over and over. They were “3,000 Miles” and “One Day”, sung by Emblem3. I always try to play her something that she might recognize, but today made me realize that it no longer mattered. If she liked it, she liked it, whether it was jazz singer Chris Connor or a new band on the scene, Emblem3. We sang along together, just enjoying our time.
At one point she had a true moment of clarity. This hasn’t happened in a long time. When we were about to get some lunch, she said to me, “I am so glad that you can come and spend some time with me. It is good to get out. I am really having a wonderful time.” I had to swallow back the tears of joy. I responded by telling her that I was having a wonderful time and loved spending time with her. But alas, our moment was gone. She suddenly said, “What are we doing now? Where are we?” I simply explained that we were getting lunch and she was happy about that.
After having lunch and her telling me how good the chicken was, “probably the best she had ever had,” we headed home. Again she was humming along to the same music while eating a warm, chocolate chip cookie. Her hands were smeared with the melted chips and she licked her fingers like we used to do as kids. Pure joy is what I saw in her. It was the kind of joy that only comes when you are truly in the moment, and not caring what anybody else thinks. Then she was pointing out the trees and the flowers that she was seeing. Again making me truly see those things that we take for granted, that we pass by every day, but rarely take the time to absorb their greatness, their simple beauty.
As we got out of the car to walk across the parking lot, she stopped, looked up and closed her eyes, letting the sunshine warm her face. She told me that it felt good to be in the sun. And she is right, it does. How easily we forget.
Take a lesson from my mom- stop and let the sunshine warm your face, breath in the fresh air, truly enjoy that cookie, find the wonderment in the simple beauty of nature, and sing along to the music and act like you know the words, even if you don’t. Enjoy the moment.
Molly Godby lives with her family of four in Zionsville, Indiana. In 2007, her mother, Lee, was diagnosed with dementia with probable onset of Alzheimer's. Molly has been caring for her since. Molly is a stay-at-home mother of two. She enjoys writing, doing CrossFit and spending time with her family and friends. She also has a personal blog that you can read at www.abundantlyawesome.blogspot.com.