Couple fights Alzheimer’s disease

Published 7:04 pm Saturday, August 29, 2015

Marianne Blaum and Jimmy Loftlin, like many people these days, have been personally affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Marianne Blaum and Jimmy Loftlin are walking through Alzheimer’s disease one day at a time.

Marianne Blaum and Jimmy Loftlin are walking through Alzheimer’s disease one day at a time.

Loftlin was diagnosed with the disease in 2011. It runs in his family — his father had it, and his sister has it, as well as some other family members.

But that doesn’t make it any less difficult to deal with, say Blaum and Loftlin, who have been together for 23 years and have lived in Suffolk for 16 or so years.

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“It’s a terrible, horrible disease,” Blaum said. “It’s frustrating to deal with daily.”

But both of them have been getting help through the Alzheimer’s Association. They attend EASE — Early Alzheimer’s Support and Education — meetings in Norfolk.

“It helps me to see other people who are going through the same thing I’m going through,” Blaum said of the other caretakers in the group.

These days, Blaum and Loftlin try to savor the moments as they can. They’re both retired from Navy jobs. He retains his sense of humor and spends his days working jigsaw puzzles, and they both enjoy going on cruises.

“People with Alzheimer’s, they live for the moment,” Blaum said. “They can’t really tell you what happened an hour later, but they enjoy it at the time.”

The disease also hasn’t stolen Loftlin’s love for his alma mater, Virginia Tech. He recently became a member of the Old Guard, the club for alumni who have achieved their 50th anniversary of graduation.

The couple walked in the Western Tidewater Walk to End Alzheimer’s two years ago. This year’s installment is set for Sept. 19. Blaum and Loftlin say they might participate again.

“It’s a fun thing to do,” Blaum said.

She encouraged others who are dealing with Alzheimer’s to look into the association and see what kind of help they can get.

“I know there are more people with Alzheimer’s that have no idea there is this organization they can get help from,” she said. “It’s a good vehicle.”

In addition to support groups and advocacy, there’s also a help line that caretakers can call to talk about concerns. Though Blaum has never used it, it’s comforting to know it’s there, she said.

“I know if I need help, I can call somebody,” she said.

The walk will take place starting at Constant’s Wharf, 110 E. Constance Road, starting at 10 a.m. on Sept. 19.

For more information or to register, visit