BOSSIER CITY, LA – Just as sure as a clock keeps time, there will come a time when Lenora Keith won’t remember anything about her life.
“I just dread the day when I don’t remember, and when it’s completely out of my control and out of medicine’s control,” says Lenora.
In 2012, she saw signs of memory loss. She found herself forgetting things, like small conversations.
“I had gotten where I would tell her something like, ‘so and so is going to drive me to the church tomorrow,'” says Lenora. “Then 15, 20 minutes later I’d say, ‘Well, I wonder if so-and-so, someone else, is going to be able to take me to church?’ And she would say, ‘Well, you said so-and-so is going to drive you.”
She decided to get checked out by her doctor and got a diagnosis she dreaded to hear. At 74 years old, Lenora has Alzheimer’s.
“I was very devastated,” says Lenora. “I cried. But I knew before I even went to him that something was wrong. I’d been knowing for about a year that something was just not right.”
The latest research shows that in 2010 there were 83,494 Alzheimer’s sufferers who died across the country. Today, over 5 million Americans are living with it.
Debbie Hayes is the associate director of the Shreveport chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
She says many people are confused about the disease.
“It’s not part of normal aging,” says Debbie. “You know many people just assume that as you get older Alzheimer’s is just part of the natural process, but it’s really not.”
With no exact cause or cure for the disease, Debbie says the association is still hoping to have advanced treatment by 2025.
“It just takes research and of course we need funding for that, and um, we also need participants to get involved in clinical trials to make that happen,” says Debbie.
Until then, Lenora tries to keep her mind as sharp as possible. She reads several books and also occupies her mind by knitting and crocheting.
She knows in the future, she won’t remember how to do any of those things. She won’t even remember her family.
“I try not to let it bother me,” says Lenora. “I tell myself the Lord won’t put more on me than I can handle. Sometimes it seems like an awful lot, but mostly I’m pretty, pretty okay with it, because I figure I know what’s coming.”
For Hile Dake, that part of Alzheimer’s is almost here. His wife Velma was diagnosed seven years ago.
“First year, year and a half, I mean really, it was depressing,” says Hile.
Hile eventually had to put Velma in a nursing home.
“In a period of time, we got to the point of where I had to have help myself in taking care of her,” says Hile.
He knows one day, Velma won’t be able to recognize her husband of almost 50 years.
“I don’t really know, I don’t know how I’ll deal with that, but I feel like within myself I’ll deal with it,” he says.
Even though Lenora’s condition isn’t as severe as Velma’s yet, she knows in due time it will be.
“All I can do is pray and ask my Sunday School class and church to pray with me that they find a cure soon,” says Lenora. “Not only for me, but for everyone else.”
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