Davis: Why I walk to end Alzheimer’s disease
Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily is running testimonials leading up to the Sept. 25 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Brush Creek Park in Eagle.
I walk to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease. I walk to honor those living with Alzheimer’s disease. I walk to support those who have a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
I walk because I Love Lucy.
I fell in love with Lucy’s beautiful, pure heart and kind soul 20 years ago. Lucy and I have had a beautiful life together.
Throughout our love life, we traveled and adventured together, side by side. We saw unimaginable wonders. We experienced lives and cultures of beautiful people, witnessing our common humanity, regardless of where we were all over the world.
Support Local Journalism
Together we shared a rich depth of love of family and wonderful friendships. We also shared the love of skiing, biking, golf, cooking and just hanging out together. We were grateful to call Vail’s Rocky Mountains our home.
Our lives have been rich and abundant. Together we learned about compassion and accepting one another’s imperfections. Lucy has taught me about gentle and loving kindness through her example.
We had our share of suffering … and with our past suffering, healing and forgiveness followed. We grew and we became stronger.
And in this stage, living with Alzheimer’s, Lucy is teaching me what fear looks like. I am learning to cope with uncertainty. I am learning about ambiguous loss.
Lucy’s disease is teaching me how to accept what I cannot change and the patience to live with it. Lucy’s Alzheimer’s is teaching me to receive help from supportive people around me. For that, I am grateful to so many of our friends. I am learning and accepting that I need to find joy in life while living with the pain and sorrow I experience every day.
Today, when Lucy and I visit, I cherish all that we have had. And I wonder what Lucy’s Alzheimer’s afflicted mind is experiencing. She feels to me like a far-off country that we have not yet visited. It’s a private, difficult preparation for what is to come.
One year ago, we made the heartbreaking decision to place my wife Lucy in professional care. Today, Lucy enjoys many stimulating activities in a safe and nurturing environment in memory care. We enjoy outdoor walks together, listening to the birds and appreciating a sunny day.
Lucy loves the outdoors, and when together, we walk and talk. Her short-term memory is gone, so I mainly listen, “Ron, I love you, I have been here three weeks and am coming home next week.” I ask myself what is going on in her mind?
Please join Team Lucy Vail Valley in this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Sept. 25 at the Brush Creek Pavilion in Eagle. The walk benefits the Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization in Alzheimer’s research, care and support. The Alzheimer’s Association is dedicated to finding methods of prevention, treatment and eventually, a cure for the disease.
What does this mean locally to the Vail Valley? At least 720 people in the Vail Valley were supported with Alzheimer’s Association programs in 2020 through bimonthly support groups, with individual calls, thanks to the assistance of Pat Nolan with support from Alzheimer’s Association. It also supported people through Care Consultations, a 24/7 Help Line and with Caregiver Connections respite care programming support.
I hope none of my friends need these services — it is hell on Earth. Caregiver support is so important. Estimates show that between 40% to 70% of caregivers experience symptoms of depression. I sure do! Many caregivers who place their relative in a nursing home report depressive symptoms and anxiety to be as high as it was when care was in the home. I do! Please support this important walk.
Learn more about the Vail Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s at act.alz.org