Before he developed dementia, Jerone Wilder's father, Leland Nathaniel Wilder, was always active in the Spartanburg community as a man in the ministry. That began to change with his diagnosis in 2017. While Leland's social interactions are more limited today, Jerone is following his example in the community as a Volunteer Community Educator for the Alzheimer's Association.
When Leland first started having problems, it took time for the family to put two and two together. His father would misplace his car keys, and sometimes he would call Jerone by the name of another relative. Once, when traveling with the family to Simpsonville, his dad was agitated, asking where they were and wanting to go home.
By the time time that Jerone learned about his dad's dementia diagnosis, his mom already knew. "I told her, 'You don't have to hide this from us.' From my conversation with my mom, I realized that she didn't want to worry us," Jerone said. He encouraged her to let the family assist her as a caregiver, and the experience motivated Jerone to bring education and support to other families facing Alzheimer's or another dementia.
"This is real," Jerone said. "I know what you've been through and how tough it is. For family members providing care every day, it's important to have that support."
Today, Jerone is a trained Volunteer Community Educator with the Alzheimer's Association, and he has a special interest in presenting to local African American churches. Statistically, older Black and Hispanic Americans are disproportionately more likely to have Alzheimer's and other dementias, as well as more likely to have missed diagnoses than older White Americans. Jerone knows that there is a need for more resources in his community, but that many families may not know where to look.
"I volunteer so that I can be a better advocate for my father, and so that other families can, too," he said. "This is something we can't dismiss."
We're grateful to Jerone and all of our Volunteer Community Educators for helping us reach more and more people with information, resources and support. This month, during Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month, we encourage everyone to check out our free educational programs
, including the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's and Understanding Alzheimer's and Dementia. And if you also have a passion for reaching other families in your community, we would love for you to consider our many volunteer opportunities
The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.