Reclaiming the future for those affected by Alzheimer's

Published: Oct. 31, 2014 at 9:36 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 31, 2014 at 9:43 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) - Over 150 people in Montgomery are set to gather this weekend to reclaim the future for the five millions Americans suffering from Alzheimer's.

For two women in the River Region, the disease has directly impacted their lives and they're leading the fight for a cure.

"Right now, everything seems pretty normal but I know within the next two to three years it's going to be a struggle," says Carrie Richardson.

Carrie Richardson's journey with Alzheimer's began in the 1950's when her grandmother died from the debilitating disease, her father was just 4 years old.

Her dad and his three brothers all died from Alzheimer's in their early 40's.

When Carrie's cousin lost his battle with this form of dementia at the age of 37, she and her brother had a genetic test done.

"I could see it on the doctor's face so I knew," says Carrie.

At the age of 33, Carrie is living with early-on set Alzheimer's.  A single mother to three children who now have a 50% chance of inheriting Carrie's fate.  Carrie says she participates in Alzheimer's awareness walks mainly so her children will live to see a cure.

When asked if she's scared for the future, she says she's terrified.

Carrie is a part of a St. Louis based research study at Washington University and she recently started taking a trial drug to hopefully delay symptoms.  Her will is set in place and insurance policies are squared away, but the young mother says that's just technical stuff.

"I don't think you can really prepare anybody for what you go through," she says.

Carrie will be at Auburn University Montgomery on Saturday, walking to end Alzheimer's, along with Dutchie Tillis, who up until recently was a caregiver for her mother, suffering from dementia.

“It was hard to see someone go from happy go lucky to just sitting here and barely having a conversation with you,” says Tillis.

Tillis says being a caregiver takes patience, prayer and support.  “Be that friend when I need someone to talk to, be more aware that this disease is here,” she advises.

With Alzheimer's the 6th leading cause of death in the US, both women agree that the conversation surrounding Alzheimer's is lacking.

“Funding, that's what we need to find a cure, we've got the scientists, we've got the brains behind it we just don't have the funding,” says Carrie.

You can support people like Carrie, Dutchie and her mother Diana at the Walk to End Alzheimer's Saturday, November 1st, at AUM.  Registration begins at 8:00 in the morning, with opening ceremonies at 9:00AM and the walk kicking off at 9:30AM.

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