Achieve your New Year’s resolution with ALZ Stars – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home Caregivers

Achieve your New Year’s resolution with ALZ Stars – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home Caregiverswww.OptimumSeniorCare.com

If doing healthy activities or giving back to the community is your New Year’s resolution, we have a way you can do both. Challenge yourself to change the course of Alzheimer’s disease by joining our ALZ Stars team and running the 2018 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle or the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Make Your Miles Matter!

Go the distance with ALZ Stars! We’re making moves to end Alzheimer’s Disease one step at a time while we raise awareness and funds to benefit the research, care and support of the Alzheimer’s Association. When you join ALZ Stars, you’ll become part of a team that is passionate about finding a cure and making a difference in the lives of Alzheimer’s patients and their caretakers. You’ll also receive benefits such as fundraising and training support, opportunities for group runs and social activities, event apparel, fundraising incentives and event weekend activities. Most importantly, there is no better benefit than the camaraderie of a team that is striving for the same vision – a world without Alzheimer’s.

Podcast hopes to help people living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home Caregivers

Podcast hopes to help people living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home Caregiverswww.OptimumSeniorCare.com

More than 200,000 Americans live with younger-onset Alzheimer’s, with symptoms developing in their 40s and 50s. Younger-onset Alzheimer’s can put an unexpected strain on relationships and finances; one couple living with the disease created a podcast to help others cope.

When Bella Doolittle heard her diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s last February, she sat in the car outside the doctor’s office and cried. “He said, ‘Well, we figured out what’s going on with you and this is it.’ And I’m like, ‘No, it’s not.’ ”

Doolittle’s husband, Will Doolittle, sits next to her on the couch, recalling how she grilled the doctor. “You asked, ‘How long does this take? How long do I have?’ And he said, ‘On average, eight years.’ That really upset you.”

“That really pissed me off,” Bella says, laughing now at the memory. “Absolutely. I mean, I was pretty devastated. I’m like, eight years? I’m not even wrinkly yet.”

Researchers say as many as 200,000 Americans experience Alzheimer’s younger than the typical age of 65, developing dementia-like symptoms in their 40s and 50s.

For people like Bella, the diagnosis can feel overwhelming and bring feelings of shame. They fear losing memories, careers, and parts of their identity.

Bella is a young-looking 59, wearing a T-shirt and a mop of red hair. On the day NPR visited her home in Glens Falls in upstate New York, where the couple raised four kids, Bella was in the kitchen making her signature Christmas gift. “It’s homemade Kahlúa, the best you will ever drink,” she says. “I have my vanilla beans imported from Madagascar.”

Bella Doolittle remembers how she first became aware that something was wrong. For a while before the diagnosis, she just felt “off.” Her brain would get fuzzy and then it got worse.

Inside Alzheimer’s: A Series On Living With The Disease

“I got lost a couple of times in neighborhoods that I’m familiar with,” she recalls. “It was dark but I thought to myself, that should not have put me out there,” Bella recalls.

After that, the Doolittles started traveling to Albany, about an hour away, for test after test. Her neurologist finally named what Bella has taken to calling “the dreaded disease.”

She and Will, a local newspaper columnist, decided that they would talk and write publicly about her illness to break down some of the stigma of Alzheimer’s. Bella wanted to show that she can be productive and hold onto the best parts of herself, at least for awhile.

The Doolittles launched a podcast together called Alzheimer’s Chronicles. In their first broadcast in November, Will laid out the challenges that younger families experience with Alzheimer’s.

“We’re facing a lot of practical questions about finances and wills and whether Bella will keep working or retire,” he says in the first episode of the podcast. “And we’re facing personal questions as our relationship is challenged by this. And as we react to the changes it brings.” After a pause, he adds, “It’s a journey.”

Bella says the decision to talk publicly about her illness wasn’t hard. “I don’t feel like it’s something that’s like some bad secret; it’s not something I brought on myself. But I know that a lot of people who have this are afraid for other people to know.”

One of the hardest parts of the Doolittles’ journey is the uncertainty. Other doctors have told Bella that that eight-year timeline isn’t certain at all. There’s a lot of variation in the way this disease progresses.

But for Bella and Will, things are already moving frighteningly fast. In the first podcast, they debate whether she needs to leave her job at a local community college.

A month later, the decision’s been made, and we hear she’s not happy. “It’s not my condition’s fault,” Bella says during the third broadcast. “Society isn’t ready yet to acknowledge that just because you’re not perfect, you’re not as useful.” She says she’s convinced, with a little help and support, she could have kept working.

But as she talks about her future, Bella gets confused and loses the timeline.

“I stayed for a couple more years and I recently retired,” she says.

Will leans forward and says gently, “You didn’t stay for a couple more years, you stayed for 10 more months.”

“That was a couple years ago,” Bella insists, but Will shakes his head.

“No it wasn’t, hon. That was last spring.”

Bella laughed ruefully and said she accepts Will’s expanding role in their marriage. “I appreciate it. I mean, there’s nothing he can do that will make me angry.”

One irony, painful and bittersweet, is that Bella and Will are experiencing a kind of honeymoon during this crisis, a new kind of romance — partly because Bella’s personality is already different. They talk about it on the podcast. “You’re a little more goofy, a little more upbeat and jolly,” Will says.

Bella agrees, telling NPR that one side-effect of the disease is that she’s less of “a boss,” less a “type-A perfectionist,” than she used to be. A lot of the time, she actually feels happier. “I should be depressed and walking around like the world is about to end, because it is,” she says, laughing and shaking her head.

But even this change comes with a sense of loss. Will misses the old Bella, the fierce, hard-driving woman who used to share his life. “I mean, you know, we fell in love. We’ve had a long marriage. It’s not like I wanted parts of her to fade away. I’m not saying I exactly miss our fights, but you know, that’s a part of who we were as a couple. And that’s not there now. It just really isn’t.”

So the Doolittles are making all kinds of adjustments as they try to figure out where this goes next. Will has taken over managing their finances. A lot of that used to be Bella’s job. Early-onset Alzheimer’s is a complicated condition, so Bella will eventually require special care. In the meantime, now that she’s not working, she’s arranging to take art classes and thinking about trying to start a home business.

On the podcast, she sounds committed to managing, maintaining some control, even as her mind changes. “I feel like I can go with the flow, but if the flow isn’t going the way I want it to go, I’m going to change that direction,” she insists.

“So that’s an optimistic way of looking at it,” Will responds.

“Yeah, it is optimistic,” she agrees.

Bella and Will say they plan to continue the podcast as long as possible even as her Alzheimer’s advances, talking candidly about this chapter of their marriage, about their love, and about the complexities of this disease, the things they’re gaining and the things that are slipping away.

“It doesn’t stop me from doing life,” Bella says. “The one thing that I really dislike about the disease is that I’m afraid that I’m not going to have as much time with my husband as I would like. I want us to be really old together. But if I die early, he’ll be on his own and I feel bad about that.”

Fighting Alzheimer’s with every step – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home Caregivers

Fighting Alzheimer’s with every step – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home Caregiverswww.OptimumSeniorCare.com

The Illinois Chapter was fortunate to have a wonderful Walk to End Alzheimer’s® season this year, hosting 27 Walks throughout Illinois and raising more than $4 million for critical Alzheimer’s care, support and research efforts. The success of our Walk events is heavily reliant on participation. This year alone, more than 20,000 people participated in Walk to End Alzheimer’s events across the state.

Fighting Alzheimer’s with every step

The Illinois Chapter was fortunate to have a wonderful Walk to End Alzheimer’s® season this year, hosting 27 Walks throughout Illinois  and raising more than $4 million for critical Alzheimer’s care, support and research efforts. The success of our Walk events is heavily reliant on participation. This year alone, more than 20,000 people participated in Walk to End Alzheimer’s events across the state.We are so grateful to all of our participants, volunteers, donors, committee members, sponsors and all those who support our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s® for helping us create another successful Walk season. We hope you will continue to raise critical funds that benefit our research and education efforts as well as invaluable care and support services.

Thank You to our Walk Partners
The success of our Walk to End Alzheimer’s season would not be possible without the support of our Walk Partners and their dedication to our cause.

This year’s premiere partners were:

  • Bloomington/Normal Walk Premier Sponsors
    Fred Forget Me Nots
    Heritage Health of Normal
  • Champaign/Urbana Walk Premier Sponsors
    Clark-Lindsey
  • Kankakee and Iroquois County Walk Premier Sponsors
    Riverside Healthcare
  • Naperville Walk Premier Sponsors
    BKD, LLP
    ComEd
  • North Shore Walk Premier Sponsors
    Takeda Pharmaceuticals
  • Quincy Walk Premier Sponsors
    Mark Twain Casino

Gene Wilder’s widow talks about caregiving experience – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home Caregivers

Gene Wilder’s widow talks about caregiving experience – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home Caregiverswww.OptimumSeniorCare.com

Karen Wilder never pictured herself marrying, or taking care of, a movie star. Wilder, who lost her husband of 35 years, actor Gene Wilder, to Alzheimer’s in 2017, discusses their bond as well as some of the challenges facing people who care for someone living with the disease.

Let’s Shuffle to #ENDALZ – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home Caregivers

Let’s Shuffle to #ENDALZ  – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home Caregiverswww.OptimumSeniorCare.com

Make your resolution a reality by joining ALZ Stars and signing up for the 2018 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle! It’s a great way to kick off the spring running season while raising funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association!
Want to join the Shamrock Shuffle celebrations, but not quite ready to run? NEW this year – a 2 mile walk option! Walkers are treated to a scenic course along Chicago’s lakefront, starting and finishing in the same location as the 8K run.

Go the distance in the fight against this devastating disease by training for and completing this super fun 8K or 2 mile walk while raising valuable funds to advance the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. Don’t wait – sign up TODAY!

Step 1: REGISTER FOR THE RACE!
Sign up today, before the price increases January 7, 2018!

Step 2: JOIN our team: SIGN UP NOW!