Alzheimer’s a learning experience

Published 5:19 pm Saturday, August 11, 2018

For the longest time, Frances Flick didn’t know much about Alzheimer’s and what effect it could have on someone. That all changed very quickly.

Flick’s grandmother was her first experience with Alzheimer’s, and she wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I didn’t know anything except the name. I really knew absolutely nothing about it,” Flick said. “When she was diagnosed in the late 90s I was naïve. I wasn’t the one responsible for her, but I was included in the decisions because I was the oldest.”

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She was never the main caregiver, but she was always ready to lend a helping hand to the family, especially as the oldest grandchild.

Slowly, Flick realized how it was affecting her, and sometimes it was a hard thing to do with.

“I didn’t know how to handle the some of the stuff, and then it got to a point where we ended up putting her in a facility,” Flick said. “She didn’t want to be there and it broke my heart.”

Flick can remember her grandmother crying and asking her to take her home.

Her own grandmother was the first experience she had with Alzheimer’s, but the experiences didn’t stop there. Her mother-in-law was diagnosed, and again she wasn’t the full-time caregiver for her.

This time, when Flick would bring her down to visit she got to see a different side of Alzheimer’s than what her grandmother experienced. Rather than fight the forgetfulness, her mother-in-law was much more accepting of the disease.

Flick’s last experience with Alzheimer’s was with a brother she never knew she had, but by the time she found out who he was, it was too late.

Her brother had no memory, and there was no chance of him remembering her or being able to cultivate a relationship.

“They all had such vibrant lives and Alzheimer’s kicked that to the curb,” Flick said.

She fears that Alzheimer’s is in her future or even her children’s future. The fear is because she doesn’t want to be the burden.

“No matter how much you love someone it’s a burden nonetheless,” Flick said. “I don’t want that to happen to me, and I don’t want to be that burden.”

For the last four years, Flick has been participating in the Western Tidewater Walk to End Alzheimer’s to make sure that she and her family won’t have to be affected by it anymore.

“Alzheimer’s is a nasty, horrible disease. It steals your mind and leaves your body withering,” Flick said. “I can’t say enough bad things about Alzheimer’s. It’s cruel.”

The participants are working to raise a total of $85,800 before the walk on Sept. 15. They have reached 23 percent of their fundraising goal with $20,017 raised with 142 participants and 44 teams.

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