One Woman’s Journey Becomes a Call to Her Own Community

‘Clarity – Capacity – Cure’ – is the motto that Charlotte resident Joyce Gottlieb has relied upon since her mother Bessie Ledbetter was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. “Mom’s behavior became out of character for her about ten years ago,” shares Joyce. “This disease can really sneak up on the individual living with it as well as family members if you are not paying close attention.” 

In 2010, Joyce’s son moved in with his grandmother as he was attending classes at Central Piedmont Community College. He stayed there a year, but Bessie’s increasing paranoia made him a target when she misplaced items. Shortly thereafter while at her mom’s house, Joyce discovered legal pads with several notes referencing Alzheimer’s disease. “I think my mom knew something was wrong, and understood that she could possibly have the disease.”  

Officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2013, Bessie, a former English professor at Johnson C. Smith University, is no stranger to health challenges. Her fighting spirit, coupled with her keen understanding of how important overall wellness is, have played key a role in her successful battle with cancer.  “Mom was always a health enthusiast, purchasing turmeric in bulk and other healthy supplements,” offered Joyce. “She knew the perils of sugar as well as the significance of total body wellness.”  Similar to cancer statistics, women and people of color have increased chances of becoming impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.  “My sorority really inspired me to get involved with Walking to End Alzheimer’s,” comments Joyce.  “With the added factors of being a person of color and a woman, we need to do what we can to raise additional funds to find a cure.”    

Joyce’s professional role with Charlotte’s Department of Social Services provided her with first-hand awareness of how many people in the community could benefit from learning more about Alzheimer’s. With the help of the Alzheimer’s Association, Western Carolina Chapter, they developed an offering of educational programs.   Some of the individuals who attended those educational programs even formed support groups.   “It can be very overwhelming when you find out that your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,” says Joyce.  “From a caregiver’s perspective, you have a lot of information to learn very quickly.” From insurance, to physicians, to medications, and legal affairs, there are a myriad of resources that need to be explored.

Joyce believes she’s very fortunate, in that she has friends that she relies on for advice in supporting her mom. “I’m lucky in that I have friends who are professionals in many of these areas that I can ask for advice.  Most people do not, however, and that’s why I believe the educational resources and support groups that the Alzheimer’s Association offers are so important.”  Many people may be afraid or hesitant to talk about Alzheimer’s, but they are interested in learning as much about it as possible.  It is also important that individuals do not feel alone when faced with or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

Bessie is now 85 and lives with Joyce and her husband. Between the pandemic and retiring from DSS in June, Joyce has spent more time with her mom.   Outside caregiving support does offer Joyce a break while providing the stable care that Bessie requires.

Joyce anticipates that her mom may join their team’s ‘Walk Everywhere’ format this season as part of Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Charlotte taking place on October 17. “Participating in Walk is such an exhilarating experience for me. I encourage more women to join me in supporting the cause.  While we don’t know the exactly how heredity affects this disease, it’s time for us act now to protect future generations.”

LIKE JOYCE 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 join the movement.

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

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