Norm lives in Louisville, Kentucky and he retired when his wife, Carol was diagnosed with dementia (after 6 years in the Navy and 39 years with the Trane Company).
How long have you been involved with the Alzheimer’s Association?
When Carol was diagnosed with dementia in 2011 we were fortunate to have gotten the suggestion that we may want to check out the Alzheimer’s Association. We were blessed to initiate that “check-out” just when they were starting one of their 8-week training/support groups for early-stage Alzheimer’s/dementia, a very informative exposure to the journey we would likely be in for, and resources available through the Alzheimer’s Association. The availability and benefits of attending a Dementia Caregiver Support Group(s) (DCSG) stuck with me.
In what way(s) do you volunteer?
I am the assistant Facilitator, with David Horn the Facilitator, at Beargrass Christian Church DCSG. In 2018, I spearheaded getting another DCSG started in Southeast Missouri (Carol’s and my home area) “The Greater SEMO Dementia Caregiver Support Group”, under the St. Louis Chapter of the Association. I was the Facilitator for that DCSG through the fall of 2019 and that group is continuing to do very well. In fiscal year 2019, the first full year for the group, out of all the DCSGs under the St. Louis chapter, the Greater SEMO DCSG tied for #2 in highest average monthly attendance for the year. I also serve as a community educator with the KY/IN Chapter and sometimes help man event kiosks.
Why do you support the Association? How has Alzheimer’s disease personally affected you?
Carol passed away in June 2017. Her specific illness was actually Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) dementia, conclusively confirmed in 2014, not Alzheimer’s. This was well after I started taking advantage of the Alzheimer’s DCSGs and other Association resources. Not once was there any differentiation in support because it wasn’t specifically Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association’s culture seems to be; “If you have dementia challenges, we are here to help” and I benefited directly, and Carol indirectly, from their resources.
What impact do you feel your work with the Alzheimer’s Association has on the community?
There is a huge void of knowledge about Alzheimer’s and dementia out there. One at a time, we’ve been able to help individuals, relatives or care partners learn a little bit more about Alzheimer’s and dementia. We’re a conduit for information that has positively impacted quite a few people. To make those people aware that somebody cares and they are not on this journey alone, and that others too have been there, has been uplifting to quite a few people. Also, people learning about what the Alzheimer’s Association is doing, working with research all over the globe to get a treatment and ultimately a cure, gives hope.
What else are you involved in within your community?
I also volunteer delivering meals one morning a week for Senior Care Experts, a non-profit dedicated to helping elders age at home as long as possible. I am currently on the Board of Directors for our Home Owners Association serving as president. I also contribute to that organization with other functions. I am a member of Southeast Christian Church where I frequently volunteer for various activities.
Why would you encourage others to support the Association?
The Alzheimer’s Association is an incredible organization of people dedicated to offering support to the many folks who, in some form or another, find themselves challenged by this demanding disease. The Association is also the number one advocate for finding a treatment and ultimately a cure for this dreaded disease. Our supporting the Alzheimer’s Association is the most effective way of getting the attention and support of our government.