My journey with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s began 10 years ago, in 2010.
I initially got involved with the Alzheimer’s Association to stay busy while my husband was deployed to Afghanistan. At the time, I had no idea that my grandmother would soon be diagnosed with this terrible disease. It was almost like I was being prepared for what was to come.
My Abuela Juana’s diagnosis on February 17, 2011 fueled my passion and desire to end Alzheimer’s. I made it my life mission to do my part in this fight; everything in me said that I just had to. I started a Walk to End Alzheimer’s team, then later joined the Walk Committee and am now a Walk Co-Chair.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s continues to bring me a sense of comfort. Knowing so many others have gone through this or are currently going through their personal Alzheimer’s journey is powerful. Although all of our situations are unique, we have so many relatable similarities as we face Alzheimer’s together.
I remember our last family visit to Puerto Rico in 2009 like it was yesterday. My abuela was so happy to see us and introduce us to all of her friends. She raised six children, loved to feed everyone and was such a strong willed, feisty lady. She lived in Puerto Rico until her children made the decision together to bring her to Florida, which is where the majority of my family resides. Shortly after moving there, she had already advanced so much in her disease process that they had to begin hospice care.
Since I lived in Tennessee, I didn’t physically interact with my grandmother on a daily basis, but we did frequently speak on the telephone. Looking back, there were definitely some signs of her impending disease, but my family was not educated about Alzheimer’s; we thought it was a normal part of her aging process. One of my aunts was the first to mention that she thought something was wrong. Then things began to unravel from there.
My mother, me and my mother’s siblings wish we had been more aware of what Alzheimer’s was back then. Although they were very blessed with an amazing hospice nurse, knowledge is power. It wouldn’t have changed the outcome, but I believe it would have made the journey much more understandable for us all. I implore other families to take advantage of the resources at your disposal, and to educate yourself about the disease as early as you are able to. To those of you who have been impacted by Alzheimer’s but have yet to take the next step, I highly recommend reaching out to your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and getting involved in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
My abuela died at the age of 84. I miss her terribly. The way Alzheimer’s disease changed her and robbed her — as well as all of us, her family, of what I believe could have been many more quality years — is heartbreaking and simply put, extremely unfair. Walking every year reminds me that I am making a difference.
My family has learned a lot about Alzheimer’s since my abuela was diagnosed. If only I knew then what I know now. I may not be able to turn back time, but I can most certainly be an advocate today. I want the Hispanic community and all impacted by Alzheimer’s to know that they are not alone. We need awareness and resources in many languages and in all communities.
For me, for my family, for you, for your grandmothers and abuelas, in this uncertain world, I take one day at a time, and know that we can do anything if we just take that first step. One day, I know that we will live in a world without Alzheimer’s.
Juntos hacemos la diferencia...un paso a la vez!
Together, we can make a difference...one step at a time!
About: This is Brenda’s tenth year participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. In 2020, she will be walking in her own neighborhood on Saturday, September 26. Cheer her on! Visit her Walk page.
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Walk to End Alzheimer's