"Why I Walk": The Personal Stories That Shed Light On Alzheimer's Disease

Vivian Wharton with her mother Potsie Vinet surrounded by their family

Vivian Wharton with her mother Potsie Vinet surrounded by their family

September through November is a very important span of the year in the fight against Alzheimer's- all over the country, the disease's biggest fundraising and awareness-building event is held in most major cities: The Walk to End Alzheimer's benefiting the Alzheimer's Association.

As a specialized memory care provider, Schonberg Care is passionate about each of our communities being heavily involved in their local Walk to End Alzheimer's as both a sponsor & participant. We recognize the vital importance of the work that the Alzheimer's Association does from a research, education, & family support standpoint, and we advocate, promote, & raise money for the cause throughout the entire year.

Given that so many Walks are taking place this month, we feel that it is the perfect time to showcase the importance of supporting the Alzheimer's Association & the vital support they provide to community members in need. We feel there is no better way to do this than through sharing the personal story of a member of our local community who recently lost their loved one to Alzheimer's disease to showcase the devastating impact that Alzheimer's disease has not only on the individual, but also on their loved ones.

As the Northshore Walk to End Alzheimer's is coming up this Saturday, October 7th at Fontainebleau State Park (click here to learn more) and that is where two of our communities, Beau Provence in Mandeville & Park Provence in Slidell, are located, we asked a Beau Provence family member to share the story of her beautiful and vibrant mother Potsie's journey, and she graciously agreed. Thank you, Vivian, for shining this light onto Alzheimer's disease through you and your family's experience:

WHY I WALK, BY VIVIAN WHARTON

 "My family and I realized that something wasn't quite right with my mother Potsie around the time that she turned 80 years old. She expressed to me that she felt her memory was slipping away from her, and she was scared and upset because she didn't understand what was happening to her. It wasn't long after that conversation that she voluntarily gave up driving, and we watched this talented and beautiful woman slowly slip away from us over the course of the next seven years.

We soon realized that we needed extra assistance caring for my mother and her changing needs, and after doing some research, we learned about Beau Provence Memory Care Assisted Living, a memory care exclusive community that was conveniently located very close to where my entire family lived. Upon visiting, we were impressed with the cleanliness and openness of the community. Most importantly, we were impressed with the Executive Director Shelly Jarrell and her extensive knowledge about caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease, as she had dealt with it personally through her own father having had Alzheimer's. We found her to be very compassionate, understanding, and honest, and that was our experience throughout our entire time at Beau Provence.

Beau Provence's support was invaluable to us during the final stages of my mother's journey through this debilitating disease. The nursing staff was competent and accessible, and my mother was assigned one CNA as her caretaker, which comforted us in knowing how well she knew my mother and was able to anticipate her wants and needs. 

If you find yourself in the difficult position of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, know that you're not alone, and you don't have to do it alone. A loving and patient community can and will make all the difference for you and your family. If you do seek the assistance of a community (which I recommend), make sure that it is somewhere in which you have constant access to your loved one, day or night. My family visited my mother all the time, and my father Champ Vinet was there with her every single day! We truly built an extended family within the Beau Provence community that we will always cherish.

Why do I walk at the Walk to End Alzheimer's? I walk in the memory of my dear mother Potsie, who we lost this past July, as well as for the memory of my grandmother and great-grandmother. Just as importantly, I walk so that one day (soon, hopefully) there will be a cure for this devastating and very expensive illness. My parents would have been married 69 years on October 1st of this year. This was a very difficult diagnosis for our entire family- we went through all of the emotions, the first being denial. My mom was physically in great shape, and if not for this disease, she would still be with my dad and her children, watching her grands and great-grandchildren reaching important milestones in their lives.

To quote Nancy Reagan, Alzheimer's disease is "the long goodbye." I walk so that someday others will be spared from having to experience this long, sad farewell."

 -Vivian Whorton, Daughter of Potsie Vinet