Dementia are able to remember music and the choir is an opportunity for them and those who care for them to enjoy the sound and gift of music.
Dr. Joann Pritchett facilitated a panel focused on the caregivers of local Madisonians living with Alzheimer’s. The panel included Rev. Alex Gee, Jr., Dr. Sheryl
Henderson and Mary Wells.
Dr. Sheryl Henderson, the daughter of Dr. Perry Henderson and Dr. Virginia Henderson, shared her experience caring for her mother. “It is a process that goes over
years.” She shared that she first noticed the signs about 14 years ago. Her father, being so close hadn’t seen the signs at that time. Having an outside set of eyes
helped the family to see the small changes.
“One thing I remember my father doing was recognizing that she may ask questions over and over. He had a little card made that he handed to people in public if
needed to discreetly explain my mother’s condition.” Community members have rallied to support the family.
The community has also supported Verline Gee-Fleming, the mother of Rev. Alex Gee, Jr. whose diagnosis he admitted to denying for some time. “I’m a 55-year old
quintessential mama’s boy.” It was his sister, who urged him to see the truth and to help their mother get the care she needed. With family and community support,
their mom is thriving in an assisted-living facility.
“What’s interesting is mom has very colorful language now. I made the decision that I am going to laugh. Mom is funny. Her humor is impeccable.” Gee uses those
moments to share updates with the community via his blog. His church members also help by taking his mother for ice cream and giving her communion, so Gee
can focus on being her son, rather than her pastor and can enjoy this newfound side of his mother.
Mary Well’s mother, Sara, was diagnosed early eight years ago. “Just hearing the diagnosis, shocked us. Since that point in time, my siblings and I coordinate our
time to make sure our mom is in a good space all of the time.”
Wells, the primary caregiver is thankful for the support that having siblings to step in has provided. “Madison is a very resourceful city. We have been fortunate.”
Wells shared, pointing out the support provided by ADRC and other community organizations.
The final offering of the day, a healthy cooking demonstration by Chef James Bloodsaw, provided a delicious opportunity for attendees to learn how to prepare vegan
meals using non-traditional and traditional ingredients. Bloodsaw shared that a family member’s health scare prompted him to focus more on the food that he was
eating and how it was prepared. The audience asked lots of questions and asked for recipes, praising the tasty dishes prepared by Bloodsaw and his family.
“This was a great partnership between the Alliance and the University. It fomented the interest in creating access to resources, getting good diagnostics and getting
people interested in research.” shared Dr. Carey Gleason. “I am overjoyed. The keynote was fantastic, the caregiver panel was heart wrenching, the chorus was
beautiful and the chef brought us to the finish line.”
The Solomon Carter Fuller Brain Health Brunch is sponsored by the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Alzheimer’s & Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin
and Wisconsin Geriatric Education Center.
Together they have created a strong sense of community around a tough issue affecting families. With their research recently being funded for an additional five
years, we are certain that this work will not be forgotten.