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“Life can be full of darkness, until you walk a sunlit path”: Alzheimer’s Volunteer Fights for Dad

“Life can be full of darkness, until you walk a sunlit path”: Alzheimer’s Volunteer Fights for Dad
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September 26, 2022
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This blog is in the voice of Carlos Olivas III, a son, caregiver, advocate and Walk to End Alzheimer's volunteer.

I recently read something akin to this: ‘Life can be full of darkness, until you walk a sunlit path.’ Alzheimer’s has taught me that joy can be found in deep, dark crevices. The Alzheimer’s community is its own bright light, bringing the best out of people. It allows families to connect to honor those they love, support one another, and show future generations that making a difference can be done just by taking the first step forward in the right direction. 

A New Vista

In 2016, I left my life in Ventura, California and moved north to Sacramento to become the primary caregiver for my dad, a U.S. Navy vet who is living with Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer's Association has been my go-to resource for support as my dad battles the disease. I have attended educational workshops and classes and am part of a monthly Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support group. I have called the free 24/7 Helpline when I needed to vent, cry or seek advice.

I knew nothing about Alzheimer’s when my dad was diagnosed, so I set out to learn as much as I could. I had to learn about dignity, communication, self-care and resilience. I had to learn about myself, as a human, a son, and about what I was capable of as a caregiver.

Today, I focus on caring for my dad, and for myself. The care and support I have received from the Alzheimer's Association and countless others going through similar situations inspired me to volunteer as part of the logistics committee for my local Walk to End Alzheimer's. I work behind the scenes to help organize and generate awareness for this important event. I do this in honor of my dad, myself, and all the other families going through these experiences.

A Community of Caring

There is a lot that can be said about being supported by like-minded people. As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, I am surrounded by other caregivers in communities of need striving to overcome challenges as they, too, navigate the disease. 
The beauty is that we are all still human. We still love, laugh and share precious moments. And by walking together as a community, leading the way to the end of Alzheimer’s — a sea of purple T-shirts and beaming faces — I gain so much joy. 
My dad has been creative since he was a young boy. Today, Dad creates art. It is beautiful to watch. Despite the fact that he isn’t who he used to be, and can’t do many of the things he used to do, his creativity thrives, and he finds so much happiness in sharing his creations. He is always drawing and bringing his special array of colors to light. 
Dad has taught me more in the past six years than I learned in the first 50 years of my life. He continues to teach me new things about himself and myself every single day. And today, because of the support I have been given, I am more confident in how I care for him, and his passions.
My Walk to End Alzheimer’s planning committee supports me. They relate, they empathize, and they see when I am stressed or full of joy. Getting involved in this cause has helped me accept and receive support and give back to the community that supports me—a community that means more than I can put into words.

Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's® is the world's largest fundraiser for Alzheimer's care, support and research. Learn more about Alzheimer’s Association advocacy volunteer opportunities through the Alzheimer's Impact Movement (AIM), an advocacy affiliate that advances and develops policies to overcome Alzheimer's disease.

About: Born and raised in California, Carlos Olivas III is a caregiver for his father, Carlos Olivas, Jr. A passionate advocate for elder health policy, Carlos is a committee member for the Sacramento Walk to End Alzheimer’s, a research study participant, and recently received a six-month fellowship that educates caregivers about caring across generations. Carlos is a proud father to a 25-year-old daughter. He pays respects to his brother, Cesareo Olivas, who he recently lost. Cesareo was an integral part of their father’s family care team.

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