ROCKLAND COUNTY – Ashley Cole knows all too well what it’s like losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s. Her grandmother, Lillian Cole, lived around the corner from Ashley Cole’s home in Suffern when she was growing up, and the two shared some special times together.
“I have really great memories with her,” Ashley Cole said. “The reason why I’m a coffee lover is because of her. She was always there for me. She would always make me coffee.”
But things began changing after her grandfather’s death.
“Her mind slowly began to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease,” Ashley said. “She began to forget things I told her one day, and when I asked her about it the next day, she wouldn’t remember anything I said.”
From time to time, her grandmother would stay at Ashley’s house. Sometimes, as the disease progressed and her grandmother wanted to wander, the stays became challenging. Ashley recalled one particularly frightening incident.
“She came over to my house. I had to watch her when I was in middle school. My dad had to go to work, and she wanted to leave the house. I had to literally barricade her in the kitchen. She never wanted to stay home,” Ashley said.
Later, after her grandmother had to be moved into a nursing home, Ashley found visits there difficult because her grandmother no longer recognized her.
“Going to visit her when she was sick was tough because she didn’t remember me at all,” she said.
Her grandmother was 86 when she passed in 2011, as Ashley was graduating from college.
This year, Ashley decided to get involved with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
“My uncle was part of it last year, and he asked me if I would be interested,” she said. Her uncle, Cliff Cole, is the recruitment chair for the Rockland walk. “Now I’m a chair with my uncle,” she said.
She said the walk is important because it helps raise awareness of Alzheimer’s.
“It’s a great opportunity,” she added, noting that it is a great way to honor loved ones lost to the illness.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research programs. The Alzheimer’s Association’s mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Its vision is a world without Alzheimer’s.
Visit www.alz.org/hudsonvalley or call 800-272-3900.
If you go:
What: Rockland Walk to End Alzheimer’s
When: Sunday, Oct. 8; registration starts at 9 a.m., opening ceremony at 10 a.m. followed by walk.
Where: Provident Bank Ball Park (Home of the Rockland Boulders), 1 Provident Bank Park Drive, Pomona
Contact: Walk Manager Karen Finnegan at 914.839.0684 or firstname.lastname@example.org