Helping Families Impacted by Alzheimer’s

My father-in-law, Jake, began to struggle with short-term memory issues in his mid-to-late 70s. At first, it was subtle. Jake repeated conversations and stories, and at times seemed confused. He’d always been a strong and independent person. So, when the doctors diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s disease, it was life changing for my wife Lori and her family.

Lori was born and grew up in Iowa. She graduated from Iowa State University and then moved to McAllen, Texas where she became the curator at the McAllen International Museum. After Lori and I met, she moved to Los Angeles where we lived for more than 29 years until her death on January 31, 2018.

Even though she spent a good portion of her life away from Iowa, Lori remained close with her father and her four siblings. She spoke to Jake often by phone and traveled to see him every year. She made it a priority to be with her family for the holidays and on other important occasions.

As their father’s disease progressed, Lori and her siblings did their best to care for him. During this time, Lori contacted the Alzheimer’s Association and received helpful information about Alzheimer’s and local options for assessment and care.

Jake’s journey with Alzheimer’s was sad, frustrating and at times, a source of anger. But there were also moments of joy and even humor. Lori’s family took Jake for rides around their small town in Iowa. Even though he had seen the sights for years, he didn’t always recognize them. With a nod to his memory loss, Jake would comment on the scenery with a smile and say, “It doesn’t matter; it’s all new to me.”

As Jake’s condition worsened, the care provided by Lori and her siblings evolved to ensure that he received the necessary help. As a result of her experience, Lori wished to help families like hers who were impacted by Alzheimer’s. To do so, she named the Alzheimer’s Association as a beneficiary of her IRA account, making a substantial donation to be used for family programs in Iowa.

Lori was a business owner and a successful museum consultant. She would always suggest to others that no matter the situation we face in life that we should “live mindfully and be grateful.” I’m so proud of my wife for making a difference in the lives of others facing Alzheimer’s. I know what a caring, kind, inspiring and generous person she was — and now, with her gift, others will know her that way, too.

Written by Jason Kogan, husband of Lori Jacobson. Lori passed away from breast cancer just months away from their 25th wedding anniversary. Jason joins with Lori’s siblings, Kay Stanley of Winterset, Iowa, Rebecca Diercks of Lusk, Wyoming and Jon Jacobson of Cumming, Iowa to honor the memory of both Lori and their father, Norman Amos (Jake) Jacobson.