Strategic planning, sustainability and structure are all in a day’s work for one West sider – but the diagnosis of her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease was something she didn’t have a blueprint for.
Jenifer Reiner, a California native and president of the Camp Bowie District, Inc, turned to the Alzheimer’s Association – North Central Texas Chapter to find answers and is now walking her way to find a cure – Reiner created a team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Fort Worth.
Reiner was kind enough to answer some questions for West FW Lifestyle about her journey with her mother, Jan, and the devastating disease, which kills more people than breast and prostate cancer combined each year.
What was the First Major Sign that your Mother had Alzheimer’s?
The first serious sign was when mom, who lives in California, went to Lowe’s to get something for a home project. She’s been to Lowe’s a billion times. She walked out of the store and became disoriented and couldn’t find her car. A Lowe’s worker went up and down the parking lot and eventually found her car. She was extremely embarrassed and flustered. As soon as she pulled out, she immediately got into a fender-bender.
Mom was completely undone – hysterical. When she got back into her car after the accident, she had no idea which way to turn to get home.
That’s what spurred my sister to take her to the doctor. My mother was officially diagnosed with the disease at 80 years old in 2013.
Has the Disease Progressed since the Diagnosis?
It’s progressed and I’ve gauged it by talking on the phone with her regularly.
We used to talk on the phone for an hour and at first there would be just one “I don’t remember what you said,” moment but now we can only talk for about 20 minutes before her memory lapses.
How has the Alzheimer’s Association – North Central Texas Chapter Helped?
When she was diagnosed I went to the Fort Worth chapter immediately.
When I came to the chapter, I realized there’s a lot of people struggling with this in their families and that’s why I feel so tied to this chapter – it’s a sense of community and I don’t feel alone.
Through my fundraising with the chapter, I get to listen to other people’s stories and that’s important because, in some instances, what they’ve shared with me I haven’t yet experienced with my mom. But when it does happen, I’ll be better prepared. There’s that sense of knowing what to expect in advance which gives you strength – because I know people ahead of me have persevered.
What does The Walk to End Alzheimer’s Mean to You?
The Walk is about honoring my mom and step-dad, but more importantly that we need to find a cure and figure this out. If walking a little can help raise money, than I’m all in.
I like the fact that I get to walk and talk with others that are in the fight against Alzheimer’s – that’s when you know we’re all in this together.
Because of the chapter’s resources and support groups, I can easily connect with others in my situation.
My hope for the future is that there will be a Camp Bowie District team because some business owners and their clientele have a personal connection with Alzheimer’s. I’ve realized that everyone has been affected some way with the disease.
What Do You Want Other People who are Dealing with the Disease to Know?
I’d tell them to reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association because they’re the ideal resource no matter what stage you’re in. Not only do they have the latest information, but they have a comforting and qualified staff to aide in your unique circumstances.
To visit Reiner’s team page, please visit: http://bit.ly/reinerteam.
The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.
To start or join a team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, please visit act.alz.org/NCTCwalks. To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and available resources, call the 24/7, toll-free Helpline at 800-272-3900.
The North Central Texas Chapter covers a 40-county service area and Fort Worth serves as headquarters for the chapter, which has regional offices in Abilene, Waco and Wichita Falls.
The chapter is a nonprofit, donor-supported organization. The programs and services are made possible through contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations.