MIAMI COUNTY — Deb Meyer of Covington said she did not know much about Alzheimer’s disease until her father, Don Richard, was diagnosed with it it 2005.
Her family had varied reactions to news of the diagnosis, including shock and disbelief.
“Some of my siblings thought it was a mistake, that maybe it was one of his medications causing issues with his memory,” she said.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death among adults. Currently, 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, with the number projected to triple by 2050.
Her father’s journey was heartbreaking for Meyer’s mother, her siblings, and her, who described watching the stages of her father’s decline as watching a bit of him die with each phase.
What started as gradual forgetfulness turned to confusion and anxiety, then not knowing who he was or even who his closest family members were, to not being able to walk or talk.
Meyer described Alzheimer’s as being a family disease, involving everyone and taking a toll on each person.
“Luckily, we have a big family and everyone helped,” she said. “My mom was there with him 24/7 and she would call for help if she needed it, if she didn’t know what to do.”
Her father passed away on Christmas Day 2013. Meyer and her husband decided to get involved with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, walking in it for several years. This year, “Team Donnie” will be in full force, and Meyer will be volunteering with the walk, setting up the event and helping others get registered.
This year’s local walk will be held on Saturday, Sept. 19, beginning at Troy’s Courthouse Square, 215 W. Main St., Troy. Registration opens at 9 a.m. and the walk begins with a short opening ceremony at 10 a.m.
Participation in the walk or a donation helps support research and provide services to families and care for the patient.
Those who would like more information on registering for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s can contact walk coordinator Katie Mauch at (937) 610-7014 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested can also visit alz.org/walk.
For more information about the Alzheimer’s Association, call the 24/7 Helpline at (800) 272-3900.
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at email@example.com or on Twitter @Troydailynews.