Alzheimer’s Disease in Naperville

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Holly Riordan’s mother Nancy is one of 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s Disease.

“The decline to me was pretty rapid when it finally hit,” said Riordan.

Nancy currently lives at The Auberge at Naperville, a senior living community that specializes in residents with dementias.

There’s been improvement since Nancy moved to Auberge, but she still struggles to even remember things as simple as family members’ names.

“It’s been hard, I feel like I lost my mom six years ago,” said Riordan. “That’s the hard thing when you’re dealing with Alzheimer’s and the other dementias.”

Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Though she knows her mother’s condition won’t improve, Holly still fights to find a cure – helping to organize Naperville’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, put on by the Alzheimer’s Association.

This year’s event drew out 2,000 walkers who raised more than $400,000, most of which will go to research and patient care.

“I think we’ve come a very long way but it’s one of those things where we may not know how far we have to go,” said Dr. Darren Gitelman, senior medical director at Advocate Memory Center. “I think we’ve learned a tremendous amount in the more than two decades I’ve been caring for people with Alzheimer’s and there’s a lot of hope.”

Garden of Hope

That hope is seen in the colored flowers walkers carry to show their connection to Alzheimer’s: blue for someone fighting the disease, yellow if you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, and purple if someone you love died with the disease.

But recently, they’ve added a new color to their garden. A white flower symbolizes the first Alzheimer’s survivor, which they hope they will find sooner rather than later.

“Alzheimer’s Disease is managed. We don’t yet have a cure. Although the money donated today and the work that’s going on is trying to cure it. The first person to be cured of Alzheimer’s will certainly be in a clinical trial someday. Hopefully someday soon,” said Dr. Gitelman.

“Still a Wonderful Human Being”

Holly’s fight for her mother’s memory continues, motivated by the belief that Nancy still has a lot to give, despite her disease.

“The more I can continue to enrich her life with things, the more she’s still there. It’s not like she’s still the same Mom, but she’s still a wonderful human being,” said Holly.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.