Beloit family stepping up for Alzheimer’s Support Center
IF YOU GO
What: Walk to Remember to benefit the Alzheimer’s Support Center of Rock County
When: Saturday, Sept. 17. Registration is at 7:30 a.m., life celebration ceremony at 8:50 a.m., two-mile walk at 9:15 a.m., door prizes and refreshments at 10 a.m.
Where: Riverside Park, Riverside Drive, Beloit.
To learn more: Go online to alzheimerssupportcenter.org or call (608) 314-8500.
JANESVILLE Lina Bennett visits her husband, Frank, at Rock Haven Nursing Home every day to feed him lunch and take him for a walk.
Frank, 71, suffers from Lewy body dementia, an incurable illness with symptoms that mimic Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
“He hallucinates, reaches out to grab things and shakes a lot,” Lina said.
They’ve been married 47 years.
The Bennett family will be this year’s honorary family for the annual Walk to Remember fundraiser Saturday, Sept. 17. The walk benefits the Alzheimer’s Support Center of Rock County.
“I just hope we can get everybody to hear how horrible this disease is and someday have the technology to stop or slow the disease,” Lina said.
Dan Wilcox, fund development/public relations coordinator at the Alzheimer’s Support Center, explained the importance of the walk.
“This is our last major fundraiser for the year and due to some grants falling through is more important than ever before,’’ he said.
The goal is to have several hundred walkers and sponsors raise $40,000.
“We need to raise the funds so we can maintain and continue providing services,” he said.
Services include free memory screenings and 10 support groups that serve about 225 people, including caregivers such as Lina.
Memory issues first surfaced with Frank in 2007. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in March of 2010, but seven months later his diagnosis was changed to dementia with Lewy body disease, Lina said.
“He never wanted to admit anything was wrong.’’
Neither did she.
Frank, a Wisconsin Power & Light retiree, began driving through stop signs and stoplights. He didn’t know where to put gas in the mower, could no longer help Lina can fresh produce and started leaving the house at night.
“He just forgot how to do things, and I couldn’t leave him (alone) anymore,” Lina said.
Lina was Frank’s primary caregiver until April 15, when she realized she could no longer give him the care he needed. Frank was admitted to Meadow Park Health Care Center in Clinton and July 24 moved to Rock Haven. Two days later, he could no longer walk, feed himself, shave, comb his hair or open his eyes.
“He went from being totally mobile to immobile,” Linda said.
The dramatic decline was caused by a medication change, the rapid progression of the disease or both, she said.
Lina learned about the Alzheimer’s Support Center two years ago through friends. She attends center support group meetings twice a month.
“You realize you’re not alone dealing with the disease, so it helps,” Lina said.
The support group also provides information, including the importance of getting legal papers in order and facility placement, she said.
Without the Alzheimer’s Support Center, Lina said, she would not have known what to do.
“Those people would always answer the phone and talk as long as I needed,” she said.
Lina praised those who continue to attend the group even though they have lost their loved ones.
“It helps you get through each stage your loved one is going through,” she said.
“People there help you understand the end of life and how it will all play out until the person is no longer. You cannot do this alone.”