Nancy Mora was only 44 years old when she got the news. Her husband, Enrique, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
At the time, Enrique himself was only 58. Their boys were 11 and 13. With the shocking diagnosis, they went from children, to instant caregivers.
“He no longer can be the husband and father he once was. Over the last 10 years, the disease has robbed him of the ability to do simple things such as use a phone or a TV remote,” Mora explains. “Most recently, he seems to be struggling to walk.”
This time last year, there were 65,000 people with dementia in San Diego County. Now, that number has skyrocketed to 84,000 – in a large part due to better diagnostic tools, according to the latest county statistics.
On Saturday, October 20, Alzheimer’s San Diego will walk to support local families and research for a cure at the annual Walk4ALZ at Balboa Park. Registration opens at 6:30 a.m., and the walk begins at 8 a.m. You can register for free here: http://bit.ly/2PiCHjD
Alzheimer’s San Diego is a local nonprofit organization. It provides free services such as counseling with dementia experts, social activities and a volunteer respite program to give family caregivers a weekly break. It also awards grants to research projects working to find a cure.
Over the last few years, Mora herself has taken advantage of several services, including caregiver education and support groups.
“The staff has been so compassionate and caring. I realized I couldn’t continue being a caregiver without support,” she says.
Mora will be walking on Saturday as the captain of Team Hope Heals.
“The Walk4ALZ inspires me to continue the fight. It brings a voice to the disease and gives us an opportunity to meet other families who are suffering the same, and I take comfort in that,” she adds. “I pray every day that we find a cure before either of our boys gets this diagnosis.”
The Walk4ALZ is also a passion project for Alpine resident Linda Cioffi. She’s been a top fundraiser for years, but was especially motivated when Alzheimer’s San Diego became a local and independent organization, with all funds staying in San Diego County. Her Walk4ALZ team, Quest for the Cure, raised more than $76,000 this year.
“All those thousands of people who walk care – and care deeply,” she says. “They are there that day both giving and receiving support. After the walk is done, I always feel so joyous. We can do this. We will do this. We will find a cure someday.”