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In My Community
Robin Schreck - Committed to Memory on The Longest Day
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Robin and Bruce Schreck

Bruce Schreck was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2010 at age 77. But according to Robin, his wife of 25 years, there were some subtle clues that things weren’t quite right beginning about 15 years before the official diagnosis.  “It always seemed to revolve around food,” said Robin.  “For example, one night we had a BLT sandwich for dinner and Bruce had to ask me how to put it together.  And once when we were eating tacos, he said “these are really good, what are they” as if he had never eaten them before.”  In 2008, Robin noticed that Bruce had begun searching for words quite often.  That’s when she took him to Waukesha Memorial Hospital where he received a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment.  And just two years later, several unwelcome words entered their lives – Alzheimer’s disease.

Bruce was still working at the time of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but had to retire at that time.  “It was heartbreaking,” said Robin.  “In the early stages when he still knew what was going on, it was pretty difficult to deal with.  It was depressing.  And financially it was a disaster – we were living on just my income.”

Robin kept Bruce at home as long as she could.  She sought assistance through the Waukesha County ADRC who connected her to a social worker and a nurse who provided assistance.  Because Robin had to continue to work, she also relied on her mother, who was just one year older than Bruce, to help out.  In 2013, Bruce experienced a stroke.   In Robin’s words, although the stroke was minor, it made the Alzheimer’s disease “skyrocket”.  “He went from the hospital to a rehabilitation facility. It was then decided by his medical team and me that he really needed more care than I could give him at home.”

Right around this time, Robin saw an ad for The Longest Day.  She was intrigued with this new virtual event that brought awareness to the challenging journey of those living with the disease and their caregivers. She was actually familiar with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  In fact, in 2008 when Bruce was diagnosed with MCI, Robin traveled by herself to Milwaukee to participate in the Walk at Mount Mary College.  But The Longest Day spoke to Robin at that moment in time, and she formed a team.  The team, named Committed to Memory, will meet this year on June 18, at Fowler Lake in Oconomowoc. After energizing with refreshments and pictures, they will complete a 2 ½ mile walk around Fowler Lake and Lac La Belle, followed by a picnic in Fowler Park.  Sadly, Bruce, who always was part of the team and completed the long hike in his wheelchair, will not be present.  While the team has traditionally been comprised of family and friends, this year Robin is expanding her outreach on The Longest Day to include her coworkers at Pepsico.  Plans are being made to hold a brat fry for Pepsi Employees on Monday, June 20th, through her involvement in Pepsi’s Culture and Inclusion Committee. 

“Bruce would look at me and say you’re so beautiful,” Robin remembered. “And then he’d ask – are you married?  And I’d say yes, I am married to you! But he didn’t remember.” In honor of Bruce, Robin has committed their lives to a permanent memory in the form on a tattoo she got when he was in skilled nursing.  It is a purple ribbon inscribed with both their names and the words “Hearts Never Forget.”  Those words are also etched on Bruce’s headstone.


 

Alzheimer's Association

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Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.