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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

When family says the "long, long goodbye"

Aug 23, 2021 10:59AM ● By Cloie Sandlin
"Celebrate grandparents" next to images of Cloie's grandparents.

My dad was states away when he died. There’s no telling how long he’d been battling Alzheimer’s, as I was in college at the time and had seen him very few times those last few years.  

His mother—my grandmother—provided me with updates after his diagnosis. Phone conversations with my dad were never very long or frequent, but as time went on and his condition worsened, they became even less so. 

My grandmother, who lived in the same city as Dad, was the only person present to witness his decline. Even as she approached her ninth decade of life, she bore the brunt of his mood swings and managed the fallouts that stemmed from confusion and severe lapses in memory. Throughout all of it, she responded with patience and understanding. After all, this wasn’t her first tango with a family member who had the disease. My grandfather also died from it. 

There’s a lot we don’t know about Alzheimer’s disease, including how to prevent it or how to slow it down once diagnosed; however, research suggests that genes are at the center of everything we know about it. 

Since I’m at higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s later in life, it’s important to know the signs. Just like the rest of our bodies, our brains change as we age, but Alzheimer’s is NOT a normal part of aging. 

Learn more about the disease while raising funds for Alzheimer’s research at the upcoming Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Grand Junction and Montrose. Also, read John Coleman’s article about “the long, long goodbye” and how he helped his father hold onto the stories he was afraid of losing. Given my own experience, I got a little misty-eyed when I read it. Prepare yourself for a real tear-jerker! 

Thank God for grandparents!

For my father struggling with Alzheimer’s, my grandmother was a godsend. Equally, she helped raise me and my two sisters.

Good grandparents are those who fill in the parenting blanks. My paternal grandparents kept me in line while my maternal grandparents spoiled me with stories, jokes and songs (my Pawpaw was a brilliant jokester and not too bad of a singer either). 

Grandparents sometimes have the most influence in their grandchildren’s lives, so on National Grandparents Day—September 12—please let these important role models know just how much they mean to you. And for you grandparents out there, thank you for your love, patience and wisdom. Your guidance and encouragement last a lifetime. 

Back to back BeaconFests

BeaconFest is our way of saying thank you for reading the BEACON. Come see us in Grand Junction on September 9 and in Montrose on October 14 for a couple of fun days filled with food, prizes and live entertainment! 

We’ll honor some outstanding volunteers at both events, and give away colorful gift baskets, restaurant gift cards, home décor items, weekend travel packages and more every half-hour. In Grand Junction, we’ll be giving away tickets to see The Doobie Brothers live in Denver!

Letters from our readers

“We will always support BeaconFest. It’s a hugely important resource!”
- Maggie Sanders, Mesa County RSVP

“Lots of good information in the August issue! Many thanks!”
- Sharon C.

“You have something in the August calendar for the Montrose Blueberry Festival. There is no blueberry festival in Montrose, Colorado. I went to the website posted for that event and it’s in Montrose, Michigan.”
- Anonymous 

“I was cleaning up after my church service at Lions Park in Montrose, when two ladies appeared looking for the Montrose Blueberry Festival. They showed me the item in the BEACON and I suggested they Google it. They discovered it was at Lions Park in Montrose, Michigan. I recommended they go to the Ridgway Rendezvous instead.”
- Arlyn M.

From Cloie: If only there was a blueberry festival on the Western Slope! My apologies to the readers who showed up at Lions Park for the “festival”. Thanks for pointing out our mistake. 

RE: “Thrifting that makes a difference” (July)
“Important info missing about Melanie’s story on arc: Which local advocacy programs for persons with intellectual disabilities are supported by arc? What percent of arc’s total income (not from the percent left after salaries and other expenses) is given to any programs that actually use the majority of the money for persons with intellectual disabilities? Just wondering.”
- Beth

RE: “As the world spins” (July)
“I read your article on vertigo. I had my first bout this spring. A coworker that works with vertigo patients mentioned several tests and exercises to help alleviate and overcome vertigo. There are options out there. People don’t have to live with it. St. Mary’s Life Center has a therapist who sees vertigo patients. They usually need a referral from their doctor.”
- Anonymous

We want to hear from you!

Email: [email protected]

Mail: P.O. Box 3895, Grand Junction, CO 81502

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