Facing Alzheimer’s by Phyllis George
[A special guest blog post and life story in honor of International Women’s Day and millions affected by Alzheimer’s from Phyllis George, Alzheimer’s Champion, customer and friend – Gary]
I lost my best friend, my mother, Louise George, to the insidious disease of alzheimer’s – it is the 6th leading cause of death and every 69 seconds someone in this country develops alzheimer’s. Did you know, there are 5.4 million people living with alzheimer’s in the US? Other alarming statistics – 3.4 million of those are women and 60 percent of the caregivers are women!
It’s a family disease, it affects every single person in the family. The first time my mother said to me,”Who are you?,” I almost collapsed. Instead, I went into the bedroom and cried.
As the disease progressed – her memory was like a lightbulb flickering on and off. When it was “on” I hung on everything – every word she said. When the light went “out” I felt such sad emotions.
There is no cure for alzheimer’s, the disease is fatal. But, we are working 24/7 trying to find treatment, prevention and a cure for this horrific disease which is like a “thief” that steals the memory of our loved ones and friends.
My mother graduated college at 19 years old. She was brilliant. As you can imagine, my family was in “denial” at the prospect of her having alzheimer’s.
Until she was diagnosed we lived with the “hope” that it would get better and we would have mother back, my kids would have their grandmother back, like she was before.
Awareness is key – we all must be aware of what is going on with our loved ones and always give them the dignity they deserve.
Mother was always “there” for me, And I had to be “there” for her as her primary caregiver.
I miss her so much today and it’s been 8 years since she passed away from this nightmare of alzheimer’s, but my brother, Rob and I and our families choose to focus on the happy times and wonderful memories we had with her.
It somehow helps us all heal the pain of our loss even today.
Louise George – We miss and love you.
– Phyllis George
Former Miss America, an accomplished television broadcaster, author, businesswoman/entrepreneur and award-winning humanitarian, she’s also a long time member of the Miss America Organization Board of Directors. Phyllis lost her best friend – her mother Louise – to the insidious disease of Alzheimer’s. She was named as an “Alzheimer’s Champion” by the national Alzheimer’s Association. Phyllis was also presented with the “Rita Hayworth Alzheimer’s Award” for her work and advocacy with Alzheimer’s. Every year Phyllis presents the “Phyllis George Outstanding Caregiver and Advocacy Award” in memory of her mother, Louise George. She presents the award with the First Lady of Kentucky at the capitol in Frankfort, KY. Phyllis is now working on an internet project – A website focusing on American handmade art and craft as gifts and collectibles. Phyllis is the proud mother of two children. Pamela is an anchor/reporter for the ABC affiliate in Washington D.C. Her son, Lincoln, is an entrepreneur.