Speaking on Caregiving, Alzheimer’s and My Journey

On March 24th, I was invited to speak at a Mental Health Symposium hosted by the Nassau Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. The Theme was “Real Talk about the Elephant in the Room: Eliminating the Stigma of Mental Health with Facets, Education and Resources.” 

The focus of the day was to address different areas of mental health and discovering ways to eliminate the stigmas that keep people from talking about or taking action such as shame, phobia, anxiety, rejection, depression, stress and more. While I always intend to be timely with my posts, and yes, this one comes two months later, in all honesty, I needed to take care of a few of my health concerns that were and are draining and hence sometimes delaying what I want to do.

I have been very fortunate to educate and bring a smile or laughter to people through this blog as well as having the opportunity to write for a national magazine and websites, but on that day, as the first speaker and with it being my first foray into public speaking about Alzheimer’s, caregiving and my journey, I wanted to make sure my words were informing, well received, impactful with some fun.

This opportunity allowed me to show others that it’s OK to have discussions about Alzheimer’s and caregiving. I shared how I became an unexpected caregiver and that the sooner I learned to meet my mom where she was at and to communicate in a way that was better for her, was in turn better for me. I shared that as a caregiver it’s important to make your loved one feel validated as Alzheimer’s is changing them. Include them in house duties, dinner choices, after you’ve narrowed it down to a small few, or sing songs, play music and make activities as stress free as possible. And when unkind words are spewed at you or daily care is a struggle you have to remember that it’s the illness and not the person.

I can’t express enough the overwhelming feeling of joy that I felt in knowing my words, my tips and advice were wanted and needed. As I answered questions after my segment and later that day, it further reaffirmed that conversations about Alzheimer’s needs to find a place at the table and messages such as mine and of the other panelists are ones that need to be heard more frequently.

My cause is Alzheimer’s, it is an unforgiving disease, and I have chosen to be unforgiving too in my fight for resources and information. Alzheimer’s may not be what you or your family are facing, but there are many other forms of mental illness that need a champion and to remove the stigmas, we must first begin to talk. Talk to family, to friends, to counselors, to lawmakers, to one another and to continue these conversations until they are no longer needed.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m not a professional, but I am versed in life, in care and compassion. While I’m still growing in my advocacy, I can speak to so much from my own experience and if anyone has a question, needs advice or other please reach out to me. My mission is to be a support, a voice for others and a source of information and we will either find answers and solutions together or we will create a new thing.

I greatly thank my Soror Angela Banks Jourdain for inviting me to speak and in believing that my voice and story is an important one to be heard.

 

With my Soror Angel Banks Jourdain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement’s Challenge 66

On November 1st the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement launched Challenge  66, a month-long campaign to encourage you to leading a brain-healthy lifestyle.

Every 66 seconds a new brain develops Alzheimer’s. This challenge asks you to take 66 seconds to do something that stops the clock on Alzheimer’s. Get moving, get friends to join in, spread the word, share your story on social media with #Challenge66 and have fun. Lets work together to #endalz!

Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement™, founded by Maria Shriver, is a global alliance of individuals, organizations, researchers, foundations, influencers and industry leaders committed to finding out why Alzheimer’s discriminates against women. We believe that by answering the question of why women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s, we will unlock the other mysteries surrounding this mind-blowing disease and that will lead to a cure for all. Learn more about them here.

To download the challenge, click on the link: Challenge 66 

Late Recap: Summer Solstice Flow

 

While I didn’t get the opportunity to do my own longest day activity, I did participate in one of the largest yoga events in NYC. Every summer solstice, the Times Square Alliance hosts a free yoga in Times Square event. Each year I’ve missed it, this year it was on my radar far in advance.

They don’t shut down the streets, but the middle sidewalk areas are blocked for exercise central. I’ve been in Times Square during rush hour, off-hours, early morning hours for Good Morning America and now I can add exercising. It was a lot of fun and a great way to stretch and ease into the morning. The mats were complimentary, we received a swag bag full of coupons and Aeropostale, one of the sponsors, along with offering great discounts, gave us free monogramming on athletic wear!

Of course I had to represent my Alzheimer’s community on the Longest Day.

Tomorrow June 21st is the Longest Day…Post, Get Active or Wear Purple

 

I go purple all of the time, purple has been my favorite color since I was a little girl and I guess you can say that now for the month of June I bleed purple. I’m sure my fraternity brothers of Omega Psi Phi are going wait a minute?,  (That’s one of their colors), but for Alzheimer’s I live it.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. One of three months (the others are Sept. – World Alzheimer’s Month and Nov. – National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month) designated to further highlight this growing disease. Over five million Americans are living with this disease and that number is expected to jump to 75 million by 2050 and over 47 million people are living with dementia Worldwide.

  • It’s the 6th leading cause of death and the only one without a cure.
  • In the United States someone develops Alzheimer’s every 66 seconds.
  • In 2017, Alzheimer’s will cost the United States $259 billion. This number is expected to rise to over $1 trillion by 2050.
  • 15.9 million family and friends provide care to people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the United States.
  • The annual global cost of dementia is $818 billion in U.S. dollars.

Sadly, this illness is becoming a growing silent epidemic. Silent because it scares people to talk about a disease that can take your mind, have you forget almost everyone and everything that you know, decrease your ability for self-care and one that currently has no cure. But those of us who advocate for the afflicted and their caregivers, as I once was, are fighting every day to remove the stigma, to provide hope and compassion and work every day to end alz.

So what will you do? Will you add the “I Go Purple” frame to your Facebook profile picture? Will you send one tweet, or share one Facebook or Instagram post that you stand with those who are fighting against Alzheimer’s? Will you participate in an activity tomorrow June 21st, that benefit’s the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day? Will you wear purple?

Your life doesn’t have to be affected directly to advocate, but I’m sure you know someone whose life has. Stand for and with them.

Tomorrow, June 21st, the  summer solstice, join in on one of the Alzheimer’s Association’s largest fundraisers, The Longest Day. The Longest Day is a day about love. Select any activity you love — or an activity loved by those affected — and team up with the Alzheimer’s Association to raise funds and awareness for care and support while advancing research toward the first survivor of Alzheimer’s.

All across the US there will be activities beginning tomorrow into the weekend. Lead, join or support a myriad of activities, from dancing, bowling, BBQs, and baking to card games, dinners, running and biking all in an effort to raise funds and awareness. If you would like to participate in a local activity or start one of your own click here.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s, caregiving, the Longest Day and/or fundraising, please feel free to contact me at mizzriv@gmail.com or visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s page.

If you’re posting support use these hashtags #ENDALZ #aworldwithoutalz #thelongestday.

And don’t forget to wear purple.