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Daughters of Long-time Goshen Resident Share Story of Alzheimer's Disease

“There is no ‘You Are Here’ on the Alzheimer’s progression chart,” say daughters of long-time Goshen resident, Jacque Grife. Two sisters, Regina Olson and Deborah Harwood, describe a family’s experience as their mother struggled with Alzheimer’s disease in Losing Mother Twice: Facing the Alzheimer’s Journey.

According to Olson and Harwood, the nature of the disease a family faces is not easy to see when in the middle of it, when the disease is taking a loved one away in slow motion. “One minute Mother seemed perfectly fine,” they said, “and the next minute she believed it was 1947.”

Only in looking back over the last ten years could they understand the course of the disease.

The authors will return to Goshen on November 14 and 15 for a series of three presentations at the request of Greencroft Communities.

On Tuesday the 14th at 10:00 a.m., they share their story at Greencroft Goshen Health Care in the Terrace Coffee Shop Lobby. That evening at 6:00 p.m., they will be part of the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Services Caregiver Support Group at the Community Center. On Wednesday the 15th at 10:00 a.m., they present their experiences and research at Jennings Auditorium, also on the Greencroft Goshen campus.

They will be at Better World Books on Main Street from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday the 15th for a book signing. The book is also available at - click here.

According to Olson, writing about their family’s experiences began as personal therapy. The opening chapter was first printed as an essay in 2007, in the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America magazine, AFA Care Quarterly.

Later, the sisters turned to the growing body of Alzheimer’s research to discover more about the disease.They were able to make sense of why their mother refused to bathe, what her behaviors signaled about her condition, and why she could remember the words to her favorite old hymns but could not remember their names.

They learned that dementia is not a disease itself, but a group of symptoms, which include disruption of memory, thinking, and reasoning. Dementia may be caused by Alzheimer’s disease, or it may be caused by any number of other things that damage brain cells, including Parkinson’s disease, tumors, stroke, or vitamin B12 deficiency. Some types for dementia can be reversed, but Alzheimer’s disease is not one of them. Although it can not be cured—at least not at present—it can, however, be treated.

The sisters did not set out to write a memoir of their mother but instead wanted to discuss the disease by placing it within the context of their mother’s life—one person among the millions afflicted by the common tragedy that is Alzheimer’s disease.

Contact Person:

Regina Olson

453-5986 (home)

218-684-0010 (cell)