Local Alzheimer's caregivers and advocates hit the road for a special trip to Nashville. It was all part of the journey to make a difference for their loved ones and others suffering from this disease.
Amy French,Alzheimer's Association says "Our goal is to raise awareness and ask them for legislative support."
For those like Olivia Yarbrough, she's speaking for her husband, who sadly after 50 years of marriage barely recognizes her now.
Olivia Yarbrough says "They can't speak for themselves, they can't go to Nashville or Washington or any other place to talk to them."
Olivia's journey to Nashville to meet with state leaders and raise awareness was an easy one.. compared to the one she's been on the past 11 years.. one that was tougher and more painful than she could have ever imagined.
Olivia's husband Bobby was diagnosed with Alzheimer's back in 2002 She eventually had to put him in a nursing home. Her decision wasn't easy, but it was crystal clear after an episode that could have cost her, her life.
Olivia Yarbrough says "I had gone to get the paper came in through the door and I could see the anger and he grabbed me and by the throat, tried to throw me down the stairs, it was strength I had never seen before."
Strength and anger from the man she called her soul mate, a gentle soul.
Olivia Yarbrough says "I felt like I could do it to where he is now, but I see I couldn't"
Olivia says she wants others going through this situation to know that are not alone and it's important to reach out for help.
Olivia Yarbrough says "it is very important, it is important just to contact other people going through it."
And while a lot of those making this trip know that they are facing a long goodbye, there is optimism that others diagnosed in the future will have a much different outcome.
Amy French says "The Alzheimer's Association has made a very bold statement that by the year 2025, we expect to have the ability to stop this disease in it's tracks."
With more than 5 million people suffering from this disease that couldn't happen soon enough.
Only time will tell. While Olivia knows it is too late for her family..The ride with others who are on the same journey brings her peace and comfort. And she says something good actually came out of all of this.
Olivia Yarbrough says "This journey in a way has been a blessing and a curse, because it gave us time together that we might not would have had because we would have worked."
Now she cherishes each moment just a little more.
7625 Hamilton Park Drive Suite 22
Chattanooga, TN 37421