Laura Banasiewicz remembers her father as being very active and sharp. In fact, her father George worked as an engineer well into his seventies. He did all of his family’s finances and was very handy around the house. “He could fix anything,” Laura recalls. It was this drive and attention to detail that first alerted the family to the idea that something wasn’t quite right.
Laura and her mother noticed that it started taking George longer to get home from his errands than usual, a common. “He would fess up and say ‘I got confused. I couldn’t quite remember how to get home’,” Laura shares. George would sequester himself down in the basement of their home to “focus” when working, although Laura suspects that this was to hide a growing inability to use their family computer. The family knew “something was going on, but [they] couldn’t quite put their finger on it.” Difficulty completing familiar tasks is one of the warning signs of Alzheimer’s.
George was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his wife took over his full-time care. Laura remembers how much her mother took on all at once, recognizing how much work was required of her as a caregiver. Her mother had made a promise to her father that she would never put him in a nursing home. George recalls several family members living through this same illness and was anxious about his own journey. Her mother passed away suddenly a couple of years later and Laura moved her father down to N.C. to live with her family, following her father’s care wishes and her mother’s promise.
Laura remembers her father’s disease making him angry and agitated. The caregiver they hired to stay with George during the day, however, was incredibly helpful. “She had a very calming effect on him,” Laura explains. They would stay busy, going somewhere every day. “They would go to lunch, or go to feed the ducks at Tanglewood [Park].” George would go on to live four years with Laura, her husband, and her two teenage boys, before passing away. This experience inspired one of Laura’s sons, who after seeing first hand his grandfather’s struggle and acknowledging their family history, decided to become a doctor.
Laura is a financial advisor with Allegacy Federal Credit Union. She loves her job for many reasons, but takes special care to help her clients plan for a future similar to her family’s journey. She sees many clients that either have Alzheimer’s in their family history, or are starting to see signs themselves. “It is becoming more and more common,” Laura shares. “A lot of [my clients] have experienced this. They know why I’m passionate about this as well.”
After George passed, Laura got involved with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s® to raise funds to find a cure for this disease. Her walk team, Team Banasiewicz, consists mostly of coworkers, and is growing, as more clients join her each year. Last year, her third year walking, her team raised over $3,500! Most of her fundraising comes from targeted emails to coworkers, family, and clients- sharing her story and identifying with an unfortunately common journey. Laura laughs as she admits that this year’s email fundraising technique may be even more effective due to the pandemic! On October 3, Team Banasiewicz will walk in Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Winston-Salem. Their goal this year is $5,000, and Laura is confident that she will surpass this.
Laura’s team raises funds for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s primarily to fund research projects. As a financial advisor, she recognizes that their focus is to the future. “I don’t think that there is enough awareness about this disease. It doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of [financial] conversations. We need to raise money to fund research,” Laura asserts.
Laura shares that her favorite moment on Walk day is “right before the walk starts…everyone is gathered around the stage… seeing that many people passionate about this cause.” Laura doesn’t hesitate to refer her clients to the Alzheimer’s Association after they have a clear financial plan. She remembers how her family used the online resources especially and hopes other families can also find help in this way. Her advice to clients is always to try to “not do this alone. There is help out there. If you start to think you may start seeing signs, don’t ignore this.”
INSPIRED BY LAURA’S STORY AND READY TO PLAN FOR A FUTURE WORLD WITHOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE? Start your own team or join an existing team for one of our nineteen North Carolina walks:
The world may look a little different right now, but one thing hasn’t changed: our commitment to ending Alzheimer’s. This year, Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is everywhere — on every sidewalk, track and trail. Your health and safety are our top priorities. We won’t have a large in-person gathering — instead, we invite you to walk in small teams of friends and family while others in your community do the same. Because we are all still walking and fundraising for the same thing: a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.
When you participate in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, you’re part of a community that cares — and that community, which starts in your backyard and stretches across the country, has never needed us more. With the dollars we raise, the Alzheimer’s Association® can provide care and support during these uncertain times while advancing critical research toward methods of treatment and prevention.
Register today at alz.org/walk and be the first to know about Walk in your area.
2020 WALK DATES
Alamance County – 9.26.20
Asheville – 10.10.20
Charlotte – 10.17.20
Fayetteville – 10.31.20
Gaston/Cleveland/Lincoln – 9.12.20
Guilford County – 10.17.20
Henderson County – 9.26.20
Hickory – 10.24.20
Iredell County – 10.10.20
Jacksonville – 10.17.20
Moore County – 9.26.20
Mount Airy – 9.12.20
New Bern – 10.25.20
North Wilkesboro – 10.10.20
Robeson County – 10.24.20
Rowan-Cabarrus – 10.24.20
Triangle (Raleigh-Durham) – 10.10.20
Wilmington – 11.7.20
Winston-Salem – 10.3.20