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In My Community
Winter 2010 Newsletter
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To view the newsletter in its entirety, click here for the print version.

Highlights in this issue:

 

From the Executive director

   
As we begin 2010, I can say with assurance that the drive, passion and effort are stronger than ever among those in this ongoing fight against Alzheimer’s disease!  We start the new year briefly pausing to celebrate the success of last fall’s seven Memory Walks, which set a new chapter record by raising over $500,000 or a third of our annual budget!  More than 3,300 individuals participated in our seven walks across North Texas and more than 5,000 individuals and businesses financially contributed to Memory Walk®.  With this level of support in a still struggling economy, we know the message of the Alzheimer’s Association is being heard!  Over 5 million Americans are currently suffering from Alzheimer's disease, while there is an anticipated explosion in the number of people who will be diagnosed in the near future.  Our local and national work have never been more important!  Our chapter work goes forward in 2010 with great stride!  We locally provide a wide array of education and support services while we support national progress in research and advocacy

Review this first chapter newsletter of the year, and you’ll find many opportunities for information, education and multiple kinds of available support.  Our major annual symposium is coming up on March 25 in Fort Worth.  Day long educational conferences will be held in Abilene and Wichita Falls in April.  There's a whole calendar of education offerings.  You will also find ways you can help advance our mission through advocacy efforts and volunteer involvement.  Please check the website as we continue to add to our education schedule and to find a current list of our many chapter support groups.

The North Central Texas Chapter plans to continue to be the "go to" community resource for those coping with Alzheimer's disease in 2010 and as long as the need persists.  Thank you for supporting us in last fall's Memory Walks and for continuing that support in any way you can.  You will see in this newsletter that there are upcoming spring fund raisers I hope you will consider attending in both Abilene and Fort Worth.  Our fund raisers enable us to continue to keep our programs available and grow them to meet the growing need.  Our fund raisers also tend to generate a lot of fun shared by delightful people committed to our work!  

Thank you for your interest in the Alzheimer's Association.  If we can help you, please call us day or night.  Someone is always available at 1.800.272.3900.   Here's to 2010!

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Why do I Advocate for Alzheimer Families?

   
My name is Libby Embry.  I am 61 years old, and I have Alzheimer’s disease.  At the age of 20, I married Jerry Embry, and we have been married for 41 years.  We have two children, Clint, 37 and Laura, 33.  We have three beautiful grandchildren, Synnott, 10 and Eileen, 8 and Xander, 3 months. 

Jerry served in the Air Force for 23 years, and I taught Jr. High English for 23 years.  During my teaching career, I was the “go to” person when something needed to be done.  In addition to being the English Department Chairperson, I was responsible for fundraising and other activities in school.  A few years ago, I began to feel inundated with the responsibilities I had had for many years.  I could not keep up with my schedule, including scheduling meetings and forgetting to show up at the same meetings.  It seemed my life was out of control.  I asked co-workers to take some of my responsibilities, but they insisted that I was “fine” and they would help me.  I went so far as to say, “If someone doesn’t take some of my responsibilities, I will retire.”  They did not, and I did...retire.  I took a part time job in a department store, and I thought everything would be fine.

Soon my daughter was planning her marriage, and I helped with wedding planning.  After the wedding, I began to notice that I was forgetful and could not keep up with the housework.  I could not find familiar landmarks such as the grocery store.  I thought the store had been relocated.  I found myself in a town 20 miles from home and wondered how I got there.  One night upon returning home from my part time job, I gave my cat a bath at 10:30 p.m.  The next morning I asked why a wet cat was in the bed, and I did not remember giving it a bath.  My husband noticed that I did not remember conversations and became concerned.  He called my family physician, and I was referred to a Neurologist.  Eventually I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. 

My friends ask what it feels like to have Alzheimer’s disease.  The best way I can describe it is by saying that I felt like I was being erased, and my life was becoming vague.  I was less of myself.  I felt like I was not me anymore.  I tried to cover up my deficiencies.  I knew there was a problem, but I did not want to admit it.

Upon diagnosis, my doctor suggested that I contact the Alzheimer’s Association, and that was the best thing that has happened to me in a long time.  I have come to realize that I am not the only one who is in this situation, and it is a comfortable feeling.  I don’t have to hide the way I feel any more.  I realize that the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is not the end of the world.  I have seen others who are further into the progression of the disease, and I realize that it is my job to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, the epidemic of the 21st century.  Also, I am fighting to raise funds for programs and services and research.  We must find a cure for this disease.  Until a cure is found, or I am no longer able to, I will continue to speak out so others will join in this fight. 

That is why I advocate for Alzheimer families.

Libby plans to be an advocate at our national Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum in Washington D.C. this March.  Read more about the Forum.  You too can be an advocate.  Learn more here.


 

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New Beginnings for Early Stage Support Groups

   Early Stage Group picture
   The Rose Cottage of Texas hosted a holiday party for participants and family members of the Early Stage Support Group in Fort Worth.  Pictured above is Gail Phills (center) who facilitates the support group in Fort Worth.  Carolyn Ritenour is on her left and Don Ritenour is on her right
 

 

 

The new year brings a fresh start to the Early Stage Support Groups, now offered in three locations in our chapter's service area.  At the start of February, an Early Stage Support Group will begin in Abilene, Fort Worth and Waco.  Each group will hold ten sessions over a five month period.  These specialized support groups are for individuals diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia.  Participants in an Early Stage Support Group acknowledge their difficulties with memory and are interested and able to share their feelings and experiences with others in the group.  While those in the Early Stage Support Group meet, the caregivers engage in their own facilitated group discussion. 

To learn more about the Early Stage Support Group in Abilene, Fort Worth or Waco, call the chapter's office in the respective area.  All interested individuals and families must visit with staff in the chapter's local office prior to the group's first meeting to assure that the Early Stage Support Group is appropriate for their situation.  Please call right away if you are interested in learning more!

 

 

 

Painting Classes for People with Memory Loss

Last year, our chapter introduced Memories in the Making®, an art program for people with dementia, to residents in select care communities.  Now, we are pleased to offer the program to those living at home.

Memories in the Making particpant pictureEvery Wednesday from 1:00 to 2:00 pm, a small group of painters and their caregivers meets at the Riverside Community Center, 3700 E. Belknap, in Haltom City.  The site is centrally located, safe, comfortable and quiet at mid day.  There is no charge for the class, although participants must purchase a five dollar membership to the Community Center.

Few of the participants have ever painted before, but that doesn’t matter.  Memories in the Making®, is not about teaching technique or achieving a likeness.  Rather, the approach encourages those with varying degrees of memory loss to use their hands, eyes and imagination in the creation of a work of art.  If it’s paint on paper, it’s a painting and anyone who can hold a brush can make artistic-looking marks.

 “Isn’t it funny how these little things are so pretty?” asks Wanda, admiring the clusters of purple and blue dots she has just painted.  “I am really enjoying this.”  As Wanda fills the page with similar blooms in different colors, a beautiful painting emerges.  Wanda is visibly calmer and happier than when she arrived and promises to come again next week.

 
For most participants, painting is an engaging and pleasurable activity regardless of the end result.  In addition, the weekly sessions offer a change of scenery and chance to socialize, which is a welcome opportunity for caregivers as well. 

Memories in the Making® at the Riverside Community Center is ongoing and painters and their caregivers are welcome to start any time.  Please call Lisa Buck at 817.336.4949 to reserve a space.

 




 

Alzheimer's Association

Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.