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Moskowitz: Why I walk to end Alzheimer’s disease

Michele Moskowitz
Special to the Daily
Michele Moskowitz takes a picture next to a marker in honor of her mother during the 2019 Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This year’s event is on Sept. 26.
Michele Moskowitz | Special to the Daily

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily is running testimonials leading up to the Sept. 26 Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

I never needed Google growing up. I had my mother. She was one of the most curious people I knew. As we sat around the dinner table growing up, anytime we had a question and she didn’t know the answer she would jump up from the table to retrieve the correct letter of a tattered covered Encyclopedia Britannica. Do you remember those books?

Did you want to know what year a famous person was born? Encyclopedia Britannica. What type of flowers bloom in Virginia? Encyclopedia Britannica.

How do you bake the perfect piecrust? Not Encyclopedia Britannica but the Betty Crocker Cookbook, of course.

I am pretty sure her inquisitiveness was passed onto her by her upbringing. Her father seemed to collect just about everything from barbed wire to a lantern collection and everything in between. My mom’s thirst for knowledge morphed its way into collecting not only books but also different objects and treasures including musical instruments, candles, magazines, jewelry and many other things. You could call this behavior resembling one of a packrat or just a lover of all things.

I started to notice a change in her behavior about two years before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I was living out of town so I would come back to visit her and began to see her nervousness and forgetfulness increase. Eventually, she was diagnosed and my dad, who was in his mid-80s at the time, tried to keep her in their home where they lived over 50 years. My mom began falling often and my dad was unable to help her up and it was decided that she needed to go to a memory care unit.

The facility was small and was able to give her the care she needed. Eventually it became too expensive. The costs of health care and long-term care for individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are substantial, and dementia is one of the costliest conditions to society. The average cost for a private room in a nursing home is $280 per day, or $102,200 per year, and the average cost of a semi-private room is $247 per day, or $90,155 per year.

We moved her to another facility that accepted Medicaid. The facility was less than perfect. Employees were overworked, staff turnover was high and the building was older and not very well cared for. My mom was there about a year before she passed away.

According to data from the Alzheimer’s Association:

  • Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $305 billion in 2020. By 2050, these costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion. 
  • 48% of nursing home residents have Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
  • Nursing home admission by age 80 is expected for 75% of people with Alzheimer’s dementia compared with only 4% of the general population. 

I walk to find a cure for Alzheimers. I walk in hopes of finding a quick and accurate diagnosis. I walk in hopes of providing affordable and quality health care for Alzheimers patients. I walk in memory of my beautiful mother.

We are walking on Sept. 26 to help fight Alzheimer’s disease. The annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s Vail Valley fundraising event will look different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Instead of walking as a group, we are encouraging you to get your family or a small group out for a walk or hike wherever you are.

Money raised from this event helps fund research, educational programs, help lines and other resources. Please join us as we strive for a world without Alzheimer’s disease. For more information and to sign up visit alz.org/walk.


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