Like a thief in the night, Alzheimer's Disease slowly and quietly robs a person of their memory. It's a heist that erases the recollection of every vacation, the birth of every child, and eventually, the face of every family member.
An estimated 5 million Americans are living with the disease right now.
"I bought her some flowers, and I put them in a vase in the kitchen. I got the water and the vase and set them up. And we went into the other room and did something, you know, and then came back into the room and she said 'where'd these flowers come from?' Explained Jill Himberger.
Every day, Alzheimer's takes a little more away from the memory of Jill Himberger's mother, who has been living with the disease for more than eight years now.
Like in most cases, 83 year-old Anne Himberger's short term memory loss was the very beginning of an illness that will eventually wipe her slate of memories completely clean.
"The hardest thing is when she picked up a photo of my father and didn't know who he was," said Jill.
Jill uprooted her life in Idaho, and moved 1,300 miles across the country to be closer to her mother. She says that Anne is still an extremely happy person, but, worries about when Alzheimer's will take that away.
"When we're doing activities together, she really finds joy in it. She finds joy in the moment, she's happy to see me. I think the hardest moment in looking at the future would be that there's going to be a time when she's not going to find joy," she said.
Once an Alzheimer's diagnosis has been made, the path each family is forced to travel is one full of trials and tribulations.
Facing the inevitable, Jill credits the amazing work and resources that the local Alzheimer's association has for families trying to cope and make the best decisions when dealing with this disease, from taking away the car keys to looking into a care facility. She says one profound bit of advice has made an impact on her life even outside of caring for her mother.
If you'd like to show your support for families like the Himbergers, you can do so Saturday, June 7th. The annual Walk to End Alzheimer's starts at 10am at First Lutheran Church at 1234 SW Fairlawn.
Find out more information on the walk by clicking the link below, or calling 785-271-1844.