Lisa Hurley, Advocacy, Community Education, Walk Co-Chair, Random Lake (Sheboygan County)
“The more resources and knowledge that the families have, the easier it will be for them to navigate.”
Lisa has been volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association since 2012 in many capacities including Advocacy, Community Education, and as the Walk Co-Chair for Sheboygan County.
Lisa volunteers in the Alzheimer's Association Community Education serving as a co-facilitator for Living with Early Stage Dementia and other Dementia-Friendly training. She’s also a community leader and involved with Dementia-Friendly Sheboygan and the Dementia-Crisis Care Task Force in Sheboygan. “In my classes, I ask people how many have been impacted by this disease – even with young people in the room – and 95% of the people raise their hand,” says Lisa. “My goal is that they learn something new that they didn’t know. The more resources and knowledge that the families have, the easier it will be for them to navigate the disease and the know what to expect.”
Lisa has a personal connection to Alzheimer’s disease, as her father Glenn passed away from it. Lisa reflects, “My dad was diagnosed in 2010 and he passed in 2017. My parents stayed in their home and my mom was his caregiver – they compensated for each other. Three months before dad died, my mom took a fall, was hospitalized and passed away at the age of 87. With the help of Home Care and my sibling, my dad stayed at home for 3 months until he fell and broke his hip and began hospice care at home. He passed 3 months to the day after my mom – actually to the minute at 2:52 p.m.”
“As I work with families, we talk about the fact that you are mourning the loss of the person when they are alive,” says Lisa. “They are not the same person. When a loved one passes, families feel guilty for saying ‘it was a blessing,’ but unlike other terminal diseases, you can’t fight it. I encourage families to discuss the past with loved ones or memories that may still be active. Personally, I enjoyed talking with my dad about his childhood growing up with 17 siblings, his experience during the depression and about her grandfather. While his short-term memory was lost, we focused on long-term memories.”
Lisa has also attended three State Advocacy Days for the Alzheimer's Association. “It’s an amazing learning experience, but also very emotional,” says Lisa. “We had planning meetings in the morning then met with legislators. It was interesting to hear from family caregivers about their stories and how they have been impacted.” She has also attended the Annual Caregiver Conference and the Leadership Summit for the Alzheimer's Association. “At these meetings, there is a real passion for helping those who are living with dementia,” says Lisa.