In 2009, Beverly Taylor-Jones’ mom forgot how to play Bingo.
It was a game that she played weekly, and had loved it since before Beverly was born. But one day, she stared at her Bingo card and couldn’t figure out what she was supposed to do.
“That’s when I knew something was wrong,” Beverly says. “Then, I realized she had been getting lost and couldn’t read anymore, and our conversations on the phone became less often.”
That’s when Beverly’s mom received a devastating diagnosis: Alzheimer’s disease.
At the time, Beverly was living in Rocky Mount, teaching middle and high school special education. Her mom, who was a pediatric nurse, was living in New York, but they were still incredibly close.
“My mom loved to travel, she loved to read, and we talked on the phone all the time,” Beverly says. “Growing up, she was a single mom, but I never felt like I had missed out on having another parent. She was there for every play and every event. She was there in any way she possibly could be.”
But the disease changed her. A woman who was “really outgoing and incredibly smart” became less involved in her community, and got confused following conversations.
Beverly and her sister were her mom’s primary caregivers, but they created a care team to help with daily life when they couldn’t be there. Eventually, they hired an in-home caregiver, and sought help from the Alzheimer’s Association in the end stages of her life.
“She was very mild mannered and didn’t have a lot of outbursts, but toward the end it got hard,” Beverly said. “I turned to the Alzheimer’s Association’s website for research and called the 24/7 helpline, just to help us figure out what to do.”
In 2016, Beverly’s mom passed away, but one of the last things Beverly promised her was that she would take action in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
“In the beginning stages, she expressed to me that she wanted me to do something to help other people facing this disease,” Beverly says. “The way it ravishes your brain…it changes your life.”
“Right before she passed away, I promised her that I would do something,” Beverly says. “Right after she died, one of the first things I did was call the Alzheimer’s Association and asked them if I could help.”
Because Beverly already worked in education and considered herself a “natural-born presenter,” becoming a volunteer Alzheimer’s Association Community Educator was a natural decision.
“When I am in the room with caregivers, I understand how they feel because I was a caregiver,” she says. “Alzheimer’s is very similar to kids who have learning disabilities because no two people have the exact same learning disability. Dementia is the same way. No two experiences are exactly the same.”
Now, she hosts programs in her community, using prepared materials from the Alzheimer’s Association to educate families and those living with the disease about resources and caregiving tips.
“It’s my way of fulfilling that promise I made to my mom, but it also fulfills something inside of me,” she says. “I love that I can help other people because when I was going through what I was going through, I knew I needed help.”
Become an Alzheimer’s Association Community Educator
Across North Carolina, the Alzheimer’s Association is currently recruiting volunteers like Beverly. You too can inspire others and use your gift to help grow the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association from the ground up. To become an Alzheimer’s Association Community Educator and help assure that the general public, caregivers and people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia are linked to Alzheimer’s Association programs, contact Peggy Best (firstname.lastname@example.org | (919) 241-5928). Learn more about all of our volunteer opportunities at alz.org/nc/volunteer.