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Journey of Coping and Compassion

Alzheimer's Disease

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Kelle Zeiher Riley says "It was somewhere in her 80s when we started noticing the forgetfulness was getting more pronounced."

Kelle's mom was diagnosed with dementia in 2008. She says it brought a sense of relief, but also was the beginning of a difficult journey.

Kelle Zeiher Riley says "You're watching a person you love die over the course of a decade, because little bits and pieces of them go every single day."

Her mother who lived nearly 500 miles away was no longer the same person who had always been there for her.

And in the midst of this painful and difficult journey, things got even worse.  Kelle was diagnosed with cancer.

Kelle Zeiher Riley says  "So it was difficult, I was juggling on the one hand keeping it from my mother, and the other hand trying to decide on treatment, I was frightened."

So Kelle turned to one of her passions writing to help her cope with what was the most difficult time of her life.. her story of coping and compassion can be found in "Chicken Soup for the Soul; Living with Alzheimer's and Dementia".

Kelle Zeiher Riley says "Now when dementia gnawed on her mind and cancer ate away at my body, numb hopelessness enveloped me.  I didn't dare let the word cancer slip into the daily conversations with my mother."

But, she could no longer keep the news from her mom, as she was preparing for surgery,a small miracle.  

Kelle Zeiher Riley says "She had come to me when I needed her most, her spirit was stronger than the disease."

Kelle's surgery was successful, but the fog and confusion soon returned for her mom.

5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease and unless a cure is found, more than 16 million Americans will have the disease by 2050.
The typical life expectancy is 4-8 years after diagnosis.

Kelle's mom survived 5 years, before eventually losing her battle with Alzheimer's.  

Kelle Zeiher Riley says "Even today her spirit whispers to me that nothing, neither death nor dementia can stand in the way of love."

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