Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why I Walk-Walk to End Alzheimer's

 ALZ Walk 2012

I am walking in this weekend's Walk to End Alzheimer's for my mother Barbara Brown Boylan.

My mom was diagnosed in 2011 with Early-onset Alzheimer's. We had been noticing changes in her behavior and the prognosis was devastating. My grandparents didn't live long enough for us to know if this was something hereditary and with nobody else in the family having ALZ we were on our own to search for answers.

I walk so that no other families have to face this disease. I walk for funding for more resources for caregivers. I walk so that my brother and I don't have to be fearful of our own health every time we forget something. And I walk because it is therapeutic. When a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's you feel helpless. When they are sundowning and there is nothing you can do to calm them you feel helpless. And as Alzheimer's slowly erases all their memories and abilities and joys you feel helpless.

Walking makes me feel less Helpless.

I am lucky enough to know two women who have been Alzheimer's mentors to me. One is my family physician here in Charlotte. I can go to her for a routine cold and sit in her office for 30 minutes and talk about Alzheimer's for 28 of them. She doesn't know it, but just going to a check up is like therapy for me. She can look me in the eyes and say, "You've been dealt a shitty hand and it is going to hurt all over again every time you see your mother". 
She was right.

The other is my co-worker Martha. She checks in on me weekly to see how things are going and gives me advice on having an Alzheimer's mom and tips on how to help my Dad. She sends random cards, notes, and sent me a great reading list to help me comprehend what battle we are up against.

Both of these women lost their mother's this year. I walk for them.

I also am so thankful for social media. Go ahead and laugh but when my mom was diagnosed  I googled it and then found the Alzheimer's Association and found the walk, blondes vs brunettes, support groups...etc. There are loads of resources out there for caregivers and patients alike. It also helped me find a group called Seniors helping Seniors which we hope to be using soon. I have also met wonderful people at all the ALZ events that I am now in touch with and can go to for advice or stories or just a good laugh.

Mom and Beaupe at Pawleys

My point about all this is that I sometimes wish I had the capability to hold all this in and smile and say we are doing great, but that would be disservice to the Alzheimer's movement. It is not easy, it is not a one man job, and we all need help. And you may not know someone that has been affected by ALZ today, but the scary thing is that it is almost guaranteed you will know someone in the next 10 years. It is an EPIDEMIC. My father definitely won't ask for help. He is the strongest and most patient and loving husband and father I have ever known. He is blessed with a great network of friends in Asheville that are all each doing their part to help us on this journey.

Boylans at Napoleon House

I don't always know how to explain it to my friends. We are in the early stages so sometimes things seem fine. *Sometimes*. Lauren Miller (Seth Rogen's wife) put it best. She said that we are at the point in life where most women become best friends with our mothers. We ask them for parenting advice, we swap stories of marriage, breastfeeding, daycare, being a working mother. If you are currently in this stage with your mother love it and cherish it. Take her out to lunch. Take her out for a pedicure.Soak up every ounce of wisdom and love she is giving you. 

Which is why I walk this weekend. So that no child has to lose a parent to this horrible disease.

Please link-up to this post or forward or donate today! The walk is this Saturday September 28th!


  1. Beautifully written and so moving. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself, Katharine!

  2. Beautifully written. My best friend lost her dad to ALZ last year. What a cruel disease. Thank you for sharing what I'm sure was not an easy post to write.

  3. thank you so much for walking to end Alzheimers. My grandmother had it and it sure was hard on my mom having to go through that with her. i can only imagine how you are faring. i wish you so much luck, and thank you for what you're doing!!!!

  4. SO lovely. I lost my mom three years ago to early onset Alzheimer's when she was 66. The journey was incredibly difficult, some moments were so hard, I thought they might crush me. Thanks for walking.

  5. This made me tear up. Beautiful post! We need a cure.

  6. You are so is epidemic. I pray for all the caregivers who have to deal with this horrible disease. Hang in there girl.....thanks for walking.

  7. A wonderful sweet post. My best friend's father just received the same diagnosis. He is also the first person known to be in his family.

  8. I just came over via Sweet Southern Prep. I cannot even imagine what you're going through and how a diagnosis like this affects a family. I had to comment because my husband works in real estate for senior living housing so he sees the affects of alzheimers on families on a daily basis and he's always telling me stories about how hard it is. We do the Walk to end alzheimers in DC with his company now to help support the families and companies that he works with.