Kim Carpenter equates caring for her mom to a marathon, as it is far from a sprint. The book “Once an Adult and Twice a Child” rings true for Kim, a resident of Durham, North Carolina. “Until you experience it firsthand, and more so from a caregiver’s perspective, you don’t realize how much Alzheimer’s disease takes a toll on the entire family.”
Kim’s mom Anna Andrews spent most of career working with a CPA and filing tax returns. “Mom was always a do-it-yourselfer,” shares Kim. “She could fix anything.” Anna’s constant can-do spirit wavered when Kim noticed that her mom began repeating herself, but the most troublesome incident was when Kim asked her mom to go to the store to buy a microwave oven. Anna called Kim when she arrived at the store to confirm that she was to buy a toaster oven. Kim re-confirmed that her mom should purchase a microwave, yet Anna arrived home with the toaster oven. After initially attributing her lapsing memory to stress, Anna finally agreed to an appointment with Duke’s Memory Center in late 2017 during which she had an MRI. Subsequently, Anna was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in early 2018.
Alzheimer’s wasn’t new to their family. Anna herself had been the caregiver for her own parents at one time. But sometimes even previous experience doesn’t soften the blow. “Mom began saying very hurtful things to my Dad,” offers Kim. “There’s a lot of truth behind the saying that ‘you’re hardest on the ones you love the most.’ I know Mom does not realize how hard it was on my Dad [her primary caregiver at the time], but we needed to make a change for his sake.” They made the decision to move Anna into her parent’s home, which is adjacent to Kim and next door to the home her husband remains in. This arrangement thus far has worked well for everyone and is much less stressful for Kim’s dad. “My sister, my best friend and I take turns spending the night with my Mom as she is particular on who stays with her in the evenings.”
Just like preparing to run for long distances, caregiving for someone with dementia takes work and “equipment” to help along the course. “I do not know what we would do without all of the care and support services that the Alzheimer’s Association has provided us in helping us care for our Mom.” Near the time of Anna’s diagnosis, Kim’s sister was living in Atlanta and participated in a Walk to End Alzheimer’s®. She gathered materials and shared them with Kim. “My biggest take-away at that time was realizing that we were not alone. Each of us having the ability to speak with professionals about how to best care for Mom has been invaluable.” Kim’s mission soon became very clear — Making at least one person aware of The Alzheimer’s Association and the variety of resources it offers those who are caring for a loved one and helping them understand that they are never alone in the journey.
To that end, Team Nana was formed in 2019 and successfully participated in the Walk To End Alzheimer’s – Triangle. Between selling pies and hosting yard sales, garnering corporate sponsors and general community support, they raised to $13,000! As they begin to ramp up their team’s plans for the 2020 Triangle Walk taking place on October 10, Kim has already raised more than $2800. “Mom recently asked what we were raising money for. I replied, ‘It’s for Alzheimer’s.’ She then says, ‘Alzheimer’s? Well, I don’t have it!’” While the Walk will look different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its new format provides an opportunity for friends and families, like Kim’s, to still gather and be a part of the fight to end Alzheimer’s. “Mom is walking with us this year and we’re blessed to have had the opportunity to spend more quality time with her during the past few months.” While Kim’s family is still in the race of their own journey, participating in the Walk is just one way they stay grounded to each other during the journey.
LIKE KIM, WE ALL HAVE A REASON FOR WE ARE FIGHTING FOR A WORLD WITHOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE. Start your own team or join an existing team for one of our nineteen North Carolina Walk to End Alzheimer’s events:
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