When Michelle Aldridge retired from a federal government position in Washington, D.C. and moved back home to Columbus to help care for her mother who has Alzheimer’s, she tells people it was not a retirement but a title change.
“My mom was diagnosed with dementia about nine years ago at the age of 72”, added Michelle. “Although her condition is worsening, there are still precious moments when she says or does something funny that makes your forget that she has dementia”.
Michelle provides assistance to her sister and father who are the primary caregivers. They have all armed themselves with knowledge about dementia including receiving support from the Alzheimer’s Association Outreach Center in Columbus.
“This disease requires you to become more knowledgeable about what to expect”, added Michelle. “I have also learned from research and other education that to take care of my mom, I need to take care of myself by eating right and exercising. It’s like what the flight attendants tell you before taking off – you have to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others”.
Michelle is now taking on another role in the fight against Alzheimer’s. She is serving as the volunteer Missions Chair for the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Columbus. She enjoys reminding the other volunteers why the event is important.
“I brought my mother to the committee meeting and she helped with giving the devotional”, added Michelle. “My dad attended the meeting and spoke about what it was like being a caregiver”.
This will make the second year that Michelle and her family will be fundraising for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.. Michelle’s Walk team including her entire family, friends and her father’s card game buddies will be helping her team reach its goal. She even asked the exercise group at the local mall to join the team.
“Watching our mother live with dementia is devastating to our family”, added Michelle. “This is truly a family affair with all my siblings stepping into help. We can continue to help through my family’s participation in Walk to End Alzheimer’s. We know our mother’s voice will heard”.
To donate to Michelle’s family walk team, visit Irene’s WalkStars.
To learn more about how you sign up for Walk to End Alzheimer’s in your area, visit GeorgiaWalk.org