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The Faces Behind Five Years of Caregiving: Edward Jones Associates Fighting to End Alzheimer's

The Faces Behind Five Years of Caregiving: Edward Jones Associates Fighting to End Alzheimer's
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noviembre 9, 2020
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Over the past five years, Edward Jones associates have made a difference in the fight to end Alzheimer’s in honor of the people they love, as well as in support of all families facing Alzheimer's and other dementia. Meet ten of the Edward Jones associates who are bravely sharing the personal stories that fuel their passion for the cause.

Kris Kumlien, Montana

I love my mother-in-law, Linda. In 2015, when she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, at age 55, it was a shock. I’ll never forget that day. The following year, in 2016, Edward Jones announced a national partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association.

Serendipitous. Fortuitous. Fate. Whatever you want to call it, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s was a lifeline thrown to us at a time we desperately needed information, help and support. Just a few weeks after our first Walk experience in Bozeman, Montana, I reached out to the local Association chapter. How could I leverage my personal experience and my professional contacts to reach more people in our communities? I was invited to a board meeting, where I heard stories from others who had been impacted by Alzheimer’s and other dementia. I realized we weren’t alone. That was a huge turning point for my family.

Today, I am on the Alzheimer’s Association Montana Chapter Board of Directors, participating in public policy as an Alzheimer’s advocate and an ambassador to our state senator in an effort to educate and affect policy change, and because Edward Jones is a true partner with the Alzheimer’s Association, we see the impact we can have. Together, with more than 65,000 Associates over 15,000 offices in communities across the country, we are turning communities purple. Today, I tell my three children: “Things don’t get done by themselves. You have to get involved to make change happen.” 

Nina Kadera, California

I am the regional coordinator for Edward Jones, Region 67. There are four Walk to End Alzheimer’s events within my region: Monterey, Santa Cruz, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. I personally walk in honor of my mother-in-law, Jane Farnsworth, who passed away in February 2019. 

Last year, I sent out emails every other week to inspire my colleagues. I typed from my heart to inspire and motivate them to continue to push forward with building awareness for the cause. I also decorated my office window to look like a garden with the flowers that are traditionally placed in the Walk Promise Garden.

Walk to End Alzheimer’s is just one of the ways that we show our community that we care about them and their families. Pre-COVID-19, at last year’s walk, we set up a welcome tent for our clients to meet, and walked as a large group. It shows people that we are all in this together. The more awareness we can raise across the country, the more likely it is that we can find a cure. It touches my heart that Edward Jones cares enough to say, “We’re going to support this cause and commit to it.” I am very proud to be a part of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and Edward Jones family.

Matt Mikula, Missouri

Edward Jones is in the business of helping families build and preserve wealth. Alzheimer’s disease can destroy all of this. I know first hand, because my mom has Alzheimer’s. It's stealing her health, her memories and her relationships. 

I had no experience with Alzheimer’s prior to my mom’s diagnosis. I started to notice my mom talking less, forgetting recent events and having difficult ordering her favorite meals when we met for lunch. 

About three years ago, when my dad reached a point where he realized he was no longer able to provide her the care she needed, our local Alzheimer's Association chapter was able to provide my family the necessary resources to make one of the toughest decisions of our lives: putting my mom in an Alzheimer’s care facility. Today, she is receiving hospice care.

Almost two years ago, on the day before Thanksgiving, I realized that my mom no longer knew who I was. I don’t want this to happen to me or my family, or to you or your family. My mom is my WHY I walk to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s as part of the Edward Jones team.

Matt McDonald, Michigan

Being a regional coordinator has been an enriching experience for me, particularly as I’ve helped more clients and families who have been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. 

One of the reasons I walk in the Walk to End Alzheimer's is in honor of a longtime Edward Jones client. This client was always quick to lead our conversations when he came into the office to meet with me. However, over time, that started to change. 

Instead of being proactive and vocal about what he wanted to discuss, I noticed that my client started sitting back and listening more. Then during one visit, he told the same joke within a 15-minute window. That was when I knew something else was going on. Then, at a subsequent visit, when he went to visit the restroom, his spouse broke down crying.

Edward Jones associates always take our responsibility for our clients very seriously, but when a client like mine and his wife leave the office after each visit, I feel that there’s a greater urgency and importance to having trusted contact, beneficiary and, if applicable, power of attorney information up-to-date. This client was my first of now six clients who are impacted by Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, that number will likely get bigger before it gets smaller. I am here to help in any way possible to make the financial aspects of this disease as painless as possible as families face this challenging, life changing disease.

Cheryl Wright, Texas

“Alzheimer's.” I've almost become numb to the word. My Mamaw Mabel, my dad’s mom, had Alzheimer's. At the time, we did not know what it was, or what to call it. It was 1973, and the truth about Alzheimer's was hidden from me; I was 10 years old.

In February 2011, my dad was given a 20-question cognitive test during a routine doctor’s appointment, and he only got nine answers correct. We found ourselves, once again, facing Alzheimer’s. I had no idea how many slippery slopes we'd have to climb, a situation that so many families affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementia find themselves in each and every day.

Mom was Pop's primary caregiver until he passed away on September 13, 2015. Then, in July 2017, Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, too. This disease has robbed my family of our grandmother and our father, and now our mother, who we lost this October.

In honor of my mamaw, pop and mom, I am proud to be a part of the fight to end Alzheimer’s. I raise awareness on behalf of my entire family and millions of other families who find themselves facing this disease. I continue to support the Alzheimer's Association, as I have for more than 10 years. I keep fighting, hoping, praying — and yes, sometimes cursing — for a cure.

Shelley Hall, Maryland

The Alzheimer’s cause is so near and dear to my heart, and it’s why I was a regional coordinator for the first two years I participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I fight to end Alzheimer’s in memory of my grandmother, Helen Lusby, whose favorite color was purple, the signature color of the Alzheimer's Association.
Grandma passed away this past January at age 84. She had been living in a nursing home facility for several years while battling Alzheimer's and cancer, and my daughter and I visited her just days before her passing. She was awake long enough for me to show her some photos of her newest great-grandson. She may not have understood what I was saying, but it was important that I did that for both of us.

I recall, with a smile, that she and my grandfather called the property they lived on "Bluebird Hill," as they had various bird houses across the property where we would search for blue eggs.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s cut any future memories like this short. Many of my 12-year-old daughter's memories are of the nursing-home she lived at. 

This year, I also lost a wonderful client to Alzheimer's. I thank Edward Jones for continuing to support this cause that will likely impact every client and associate we have in one way or another. Let's end Alzheimer’s — together!

Valerie Collier, Phoenix

My father-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 60. My husband — his son and caregiver — watches as his dad's once-strong personality and memories diminish daily. 
This disease impacts people mentally, physically and financially. While we are blessed to be able to provide 24-hour care to my father-in-law, we still face challenges in caring for him while raising our children. What we do and don't do as a family is directly impacted by his devastating disease; spontaneity is no longer a luxury in our lives, because disrupting his schedule and safe space at home generally leads to physical and behavioral issues. 
Alzheimer's is devastating for all families affected by it, no matter what their personal situation looks like. Our hope and prayer is for a world without Alzheimer's so future generations won't have to see their loved ones' memories fade.

Penny Sanchez, Virginia

Many years ago, my mom, Lucy, started to forget current events and recent experiences. It was my sister who recognized the signs of dementia. Ultimately, Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
As time went on, Mom continued to decline. Ultimately, she moved in with me so we could provide her with better support, even though she no longer recognized us. As a family, we prepared to support her for the rest of her life. Her sudden death was a shock to us all.
I'm committed to supporting the Alzheimer's Association because of my personal experience with this disease. I'm optimistic that with the right funding from Edward Jones and many others and the continued support from our medical community and scientists, a cure will be a reality in my lifetime!

Debbie Flanagan, Massachusetts 

My name is Debbie, and I am living with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

On my first date with my husband John, he shared that his father had been diagnosed with dementia and was declining. His dad was very prominent in his industry, the head of a brokerage firm on Wall Street. Now he was getting lost coming home on the train, a commute he had made for decades. The disease didn't care a bit about his plans. After his passing, his autopsy indicated that he had advanced Alzheimer’s disease.

Fast forward 45 years, when my brother Ray began having memory issues. He too was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Now when I ask him how he is doing he can only answer: “I don’t know. Ask my wife.”

I retired from my job as a financial advisor a few years ago; I didn’t want to retire, but felt my brain wasn't as sharp as it used to be. My memory continued to get worse, and after an initial diagnosis showing MCI (mild cognitive impairment), testing has now shown that I am in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Treatments for Alzheimer’s disease have made great strides since my father-in-law passed, but still there is no cure. I am in my first year of diagnosis. Do I have two more years or nine? I don't know. I want to see my grandchildren grow up!

I know that research being done today is getting us closer to answers. We must do everything to speed the development of a cure.

Lisa Veldman, St. Louis

I have lost three of my loved ones to Alzheimer’s disease in the past five years. 
My paternal grandmother, Grandma Brown, passed away in late 2015 due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. This photo (see right) is the last one I have with her. 
My maternal grandfather, Grandpa Ruprecht, passed away in April 2019 from Alzheimer’s. He had been living at Barathaven Alzheimer’s Special Care Center since 2016, after my Granny passed away. That was when we started participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Grandpa was even brought up on stage one year when we all raised our flowers during the Promise Garden ceremony. That was a special moment for my entire family.
Earlier this year, my great aunt passed away from Alzheimer’s as well. Having experienced this disease several times over, I get most scared when I begin to see signs of the disease in someone I love, knowing I can do nothing to stop the trajectory of the disease itself. That is just one of the many reasons the Alzheimer‘s Association is so near and dear to my heart. I am in this for the long haul. I am ready to end Alzheimer’s.

We are excited to share that Edward Jones will continue its investment to enhance the Alzheimer's Association’s care and support programs, provide educational materials for Edward Jones clients and associates and fund critical Alzheimer’s research with a new 5-year $25 million commitment to the cause. Learn more.

Related articles:
Edward Jones - Walk to End Alzheimer’s

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