Mom inspires Alzheimer’s battle

Published 5:53 pm Saturday, July 28, 2018

Hazel Dillman stared at her daughter and asked what the black circles around her eyes were. Her daughter, Lin Harbold, replied it was just eyeliner and that it was supposed to make her look pretty.

Without skipping a beat, Dillman replied, “Well you missed on that one sister.”

Harbold still recounts the anecdote as a humorous moment in her mom’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Email newsletter signup

Dillman was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s more than 10 years ago, and since then Harbold has been participating in the Western Tidewater Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Dillman died in 2013.

Harbold’s experience with the disease was not an easy one, but she has made sure to do what she can to help the Alzheimer’s Association find a cure.

Her family wasn’t sure how to handle the new diagnosis when it happened, but they made sure to try to understand what her mother was going through on a daily basis.

“There is this really great book, ‘The 36-Hour Day,’ and all of us took turns reading it and trying to understand and understanding the changes happening,” Harbold said.

Part of the changes included making the house safer and adding additional locks to the door.

The stress of the diagnosis caused her father’s health to decline, and it causes friction among Harbold and her three siblings.

For Harbold, one of the hardest parts of the diagnosis was when her mother wouldn’t recognize her.

“The first time your mom doesn’t recognize you, it’s hard. I’m an emotional person, and I bawled my eyes out,” Harbold said. “As she went through the stages, it got worse.”

The Alzheimer’s Walk was a way for Harbold to give back to the Alzheimer’s Association to try and find a cure, and she has ramped up her involvement since her mother passed away.

Prior to her retirement, Harbold worked at Smithfield Foods and she would help the Smithfield Foods team, but after her mother passed, she began to participate in the actual walk.

“The first walk was really hard. The whole time you feel helpless, but I’ve dedicated myself during retirement to keep working for a cure,” Harbold said.

In the last few years, Harbold has taken some leadership roles with the event. Last year, she was the event chairperson, and this year, she is on the planning committee as the team retention chairperson.

“It’s satisfying and heartwarming when everyone is there to walk,” Harbold said.

The participants are working to raise a total of $85,800 before the walk on Sept. 15. They have reached 17 percent of their fundraising goal with $14,310 raised.

The walk will be held at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 15 at Constant’s Wharf, 110 E. Constance Road. For more information, visit