Posts Tagged ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’

Special Mother’s Day gifts to fund Alzheimer’s care

Dear friends and family,
As many of you know, my career path also holds a large part of my heart – I value and desire to serve caregivers and individuals living with dementia.

Me with Grandma Fernsler

Me with Grandma Fernsler

My grandma Fernsler developed dementia while I was in middle school. I know that I am blessed to say that I only have fond memories of her and how our family loved her — even during those last few years — because I have seen and heard many sad experiences completely opposite of my own. I know that I am even more blessed to say that my grandma Ashbaugh, who met Jesus in January, was spared from this terrible disease entirely, which is nearly uncommon these days (1 in 3 seniors dies with dementia).

Because of my experiences, I’ve become very passionate about doing what I can to assist those living with Alzheimer’s. I’m not the best at asking for donations, and I’m very spotty at fundraising, but I do realize the great need to help families touched by this awful disease. During the next few weeks, I’m hosting a couple online fundraisers in memory of my grandma, Jennie Fernsler, and my grandma, Maxine Ashbaugh, leading up to Mother’s Day.

If you have a special mother, daughter or aunt in your life, please consider a gift through one of my online “party” sales to help raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association care and support programs.

I have set a personal goal of raising $1,500 for the fight against Alzheimer’s in 2015. If you are interested in supporting me with a tax-deductible donation, you can give online at my personal Walk to End Alzheimer’s page: http://act.alz.org/goto/leahshattuck.

Thank you for your consideration and support!

Warmly,
Leah Shattuck

Grandma Ashbaugh with Wesley

Grandma Ashbaugh with Wesley

Posted: April 14th, 2015
Categories: Leah
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What happened in June

photo (14)June turned into as crazy a month as May and October. Here’s a little recap of what’s been going on.

– Birthdays: mine came and went and so did Steven’s. Pretty uneventful celebrations, but since we both have birthdays around Mother’s Day (me) and Father’s Day (Steven), we found some clever ways to celebrate for several days, low-key style. Next up, Wes’ 3rd birthday later this month, which will also be low-key. In fact, we aren’t having a party for him, but he doesn’t know any different. I mean, we’ll still celebrate, but it will be conveniently conjoined with other existing family get-togethers. 🙂

– Potty training: Ugh. I took a long hiatus after feeling discouraged. We had great success back in the spring, and then it fizzled as we readjusted back into normal school day routine. We started it back up again over our long July 4th weekend, and even though we’ve been home here and there, we’ve had some positive success. I think I found the key to his determination: after 100 stickers (he gets one every time he uses the potty chair, 2 for #2 success), he gets his very own big boy bed. At each 10s level reached, he gets/helps pick out one item toward his bed – decorative pillows, sheets, etc. We’re at 6 stickers, so we’ve got a way to go, which I’m not too upset about…more on this later.

– Family time: We’ve been to Indianapolis Indians games, visited museums, grabbed ice cream on sporadic impulse, taken long walks (and worn out the dogs), played in the store-bought kiddie wading pool until we had to throw it away from its cheapness, visited my parents’ lakehouse, attended a niece’s play, walked along the downtown canal and enjoyed our little trio family very well during our summer beginnings. Wes is in swim lessons again this summer with a great group of friends and neighbors. We all look forward to Saturday mornings for donuts before the walk to the park, where we pick up friends along the way to the 45-minute class. Stroller brigade!

– Jobs: Because June is the end of the fiscal year, we have been busy with work-related events and meetings. I have a personal fundraising goal of $1,250 toward the Walk to End Alzheimer’s this October, and I’ve been trying to find creative ways to reach it. We had our first-ever garage sale a few weekends ago, which was surprisingly stressful, difficult and yet, highly rewarding and successful. Wes was a champ and very generous to “give away” his toys to other families. I’m still very proud. We also hosted YouTube Party 5 (the first since 2011!) last weekend, which was great fun, and it benefited the Alzheimer’s Association. Steven is scheduled to speak at several conventions in the coming months and will be traveling to fun destinations.

– VBS: Vacation Bible School came and went. I typically despise VBS for all the preparations and irritability it causes within our household leading up to the week. However, I’m always pleasantly surprised and blessed during its course, and I was given yet another eye-opener this year. This was Wes’ first year to attend VBS, and he really understood the lessons and learned songs. I still hear snippets of Bible verses and choruses sung around the house or whispered in bed during naptime. We had a record number of children attend, and many new adult volunteers. Of course it was worth it.

– Vacation: It’s fast approaching! We’re leaving for Holland, Michigan, following Wes’ birthday and large family reunion for a 5-day trip along Lake Michigan in Dutch country. In between all the above activities, I’ve been researching and planning out our possible activities; though, I really wouldn’t be surprised if we just lounged and rested most of the time. I’m terribly excited about where we will be staying – I scored a fab historic house on airbnb.com earlier this year, and it looks inviting and close to most things. I’ve also been gathering my book list, knowing that I will actually have TIME to read, given Wes’ summer nap habit. Yesss.

– Wes: Yikes, he’ll be 3! He’s busy, destructive, bossy and just wonderful. I love that guy. He talks a mile a minute, and it’s surprisingly clear, however, he does have some funky terms and phrases. We’ve had several allergy attacks, and I think it’s mostly from Lucy’s abundant shedding. I can’t keep the house free of her presence. Thankfully the asthma hasn’t been too much of a problem lately, but the hives, swelling and itchiness has been moderately bad. Benadryl is still our close friend, but we may need to address some more serious conversations and tests before something big happens.

We have a few things planned for August and September, but mostly, we’re just homebodies enjoying local “stuff” and being together and/or reading. Seems great to me!

Posted: July 6th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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Hi Grandpa, I understand now

This time of year I’m always emotional. I’ve previously complained about my birthday overlap with Mother’s Day and how the weekend is usually not something I’ve ever enjoyed much. But I think that’s done and past. The emotions don’t quite go completely away, but I’ve grown out of my bitterness.

photo (12)The emotions begin on May 7, which is my late Grandpa’s birthday. May was special to him because he received a grandchild on his wedding anniversary (me!), which was just 3 days after his birthday. Grandma and Grandpa never hid their love for me. They were very verbal about it – especially Grandma. Most of my memories of them are warm and gentle.

But there’s a few memories of Grandpa in there that catch my breath and sting a little.

My memory of all the details is fuzzy because I was a kid, and honestly, the adults around me talked very little about health concerns (now, for which, I’m glad to have been spared some details). Grandma had beat breast cancer in the 70s, and then again later at some point when I was alive (again, fuzzy). When I was older – early teens – the lymph nodes in her arm began to swell and give her trouble with lymphedema, which was around the same time that I started to recognize behavior changes. Mainly confusion. She lost her nouns first. Then some verbs. I didn’t know much about dementia then, and I still don’t know if she had a proper diagnosis.

Before her symptoms were getting worse, Grandma and Grandpa moved across the Indiana border to live in Ohio, closer to my aunt so she could keep an eye on them. As Grandma progressed, they eventually moved from their condo into the house directly across the street from my aunt and uncle. It was sad to see Grandma lose pieces of her vocabulary, but I never felt awkward about it. She was still herself – warm, gentle, loving. Perhaps thankfully, she died of complications other than dementia, so I didn’t see her progress to the late-stages.

I’m not sure if Grandpa was starting to demonstrate behavior changes during this time or if it was after Grandma’s death, but life started to get confusing. Dad was always worried about them, and I’m sure he felt like he was further away in distance than actuality. My aunt became caregiver and helped make their lives comfortable.

I feel like Grandpa gave up after Grandma was gone. Perhaps it was the stress involved with caring for a spouse, or maybe it was some kind of dementia. He was never diagnosed, either, that I know – and certainly, he didn’t have the progression that Grandma did. But things changed, and I saw pieces of a different person emerge – and then isolate and withdraw. It was frightening, and I distanced myself away from him, not understanding what a disease can do to a wonderful, great and compassionate mind.

It’s only been in the last few years that I have “forgiven” Grandpa for doing things I didn’t approve of and becoming someone not-Grandpa. It came up in conversation today, and my mind was again flooded with angry thoughts from adolescence, but they are only memories of anger. I wish I would have known what I do now about neurological and degenerative diseases. It would have helped me properly say goodbye to my grandparents.

I miss them. I miss hearing, “Grandma loves you.” And the older I get, the more I see them in my looks and personality traits. Though neither one had Alzheimer’s disease as an official diagnosis, I am still honoring them each year I participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. When I lead volunteer orientations, I tell others that the Walk is a day of hope. So much distress surrounds Alzheimer’s and dementia, but this is one day that the nation can rally together in hope for a cure.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the disease eliminated from this world? Wes would never have to see anyone – let alone his grandparents – go through such a life-changing journey. This year, on Grandpa’s birthday, I understand, and I have hope.

Posted: May 6th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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