By Faith Henley
When Lois Green’s memory started to fade, her husband, Richard, and their children did not know how rapidly she would forget important dates, how to dress herself or even how to walk.
“To look at her and see the emptiness behind her beautiful green eyes was heartbreaking,” said Sandy Lebeau, the Greens’ daughter. “Listening to her ask about her mother and sister who had been gone for years, heart-rending.”
The Greens were married for 67 years before Alzheimer’s disease stole Lois Green’s memory, and in turn, a piece of Richard Green. During their fight with Alzheimer’s, Green left his wife’s room only for meals and after she fell asleep at night.
Green was just one of more than 15 million people caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, a job that can be physically, emotionally and financially difficult. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that causes memory loss and the inability to complete normal tasks. Alzheimer’s has no cure or method of prevention.
Lebeau said Green’s determined care for her mother until her death has given her a greater appreciation for him as a father and made this Father’s Day more meaningful for their family. She said the loyalty and compassion Green has shown in the face of this disease has been inspiring.
Later this year, Lebeau and her sister will walk for the first time in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Heart of Alabama Walk to End Alzheimer’s. They’ll be walking in honor of their parents, those who will succumb to the disease in the future and all the families affected by Alzheimer’s.
“When you participate in Walk, your fundraising dollars fuel our mission, and your participation in the event helps to change the level of Alzheimer’s awareness,” said Jessy Tucker, the special events coordinator for the Alabama and Florida panhandle chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
“It’s given us a little bit of hope that in the future there might be a cure,” Lebeau said.
The local chapter is hard at work promoting June as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and its upcoming event, The Longest Day. During the June 21 event, participants solicit donations and take part in hobbies or activities they enjoy, either individually or as part of a team.
This year’s Heart of Alabama Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be Sept. 24 at Railroad Park in Birmingham. Registration begins at 1:30 p.m., followed by a ceremony at 3:00 p.m. and the walk at 3:15 p.m. For more information or to register for either event, visit alz.org/ALFL.
Faith Henley is a marketing intern with the Alzheimer’s Association of Alabama and Florida Panhandle.