Susan lives in Somerset, Kentucky and works as a court reporter and farmer.
How long have you been involved with the Alzheimer’s Association and in what way(s) do you volunteer?
I have been volunteering with the Alzheimer's Association for three years as a Faith Outreach Representative. Basically, I am a liaison between the Association and the church. I visit churches and speak on Sunday evenings to bring awareness within the church and community about the effects of dementia and how to support those in their congregation, both caregiver and/or member with dementia.
Why do you support the Association?
My mom was never officially diagnosed with the disease. She passed the first initial test at the doctor's office because she was having a "good" day. After pleading with her doctor that something was wrong, and even knowing that my mom showed every sign of Alzheimer's, the doctor failed her. The next five years was spent trying to care for her without the support of her doctor, dealing with criticisms from family and friends, the constant struggles of caring for someone at home with the disease, and then finally, her being discharged from two assisted living homes. Mom passed away in 2014 at the age of 71. She had early onset dementia and had moderate symptoms of the disease for 20 years prior.
What impact do you feel your work with the Alzheimer’s Association has on the community?
I know that God prepared me for this opportunity with the Alzheimer's Association. I am always so excited after speaking at a church. After I give my testimony regarding the disease, so many people approach me afterwards and explain that they thought they were the only one thinking the same dark thoughts, or experiencing the dreadful days. So many people are afraid to share their personal story of caregiving and I feel that speaking to church congregations is a successful way of spreading awareness to several in a community in a short amount of time. Churches are then more aware of those with the disease and those caregivers in their congregations and tend to reach out with support. Some have formed teams for the Walk to End Alzheimer's.
What else are you involved in within your community (if anything)?
Obviously, my community and church are an important part of my life. I am very involved in my church, I teach and volunteer for various activities. I volunteer at the local senior center and the Good Samaritan Thrift Store with food drives and gift giveaways.
Why would you encourage others to support the Association?
My prayer is that as I bring more awareness to the community, it will spark a desire in others to have compassion for those struggling with the disease and their caregivers and they’ll get involved and volunteer. The Bible teaches us to care for others, so I feel it is part of our earthly obligation. Being a part of something that is bigger than yourself is so satisfying. It is humbling and rewarding.
Is there anything else you would like us to include or know about you?
My husband, Russ Adams, is my "silent" partner. He encourages me daily in my desire to bring awareness and attends all meetings, Walks and speaking engagements with me. We have five children and three grandchildren. I think the stereotype is that you volunteer when you're retired or don't have a job or you have a lot of free time, but I can assure you, you have time to volunteer with the Alzheimer's Association in whatever capacity you choose. Do it for the loved one you've lost, do it for the friend that is struggling to care for someone with dementia, do it just because it's the right thing to do. I promise you, the blessings you receive in return will be heartwarming.