Agency Funds Research, Provides Hope, Support for Families Affected by Alzheimer’s

 Editor’s note: Due to citywide  restrictions on large gatherings enacted because of the coronavirus pandemic, the AWARE Affair is canceled.

When Kim McDavid began to have trouble remembering which day of the week it was, her husband, David McDavid Jr., chalked it up to stress.

“We were going to move to Colorado, we opened a business there, sent both kids off to college, and just got done treating my throat cancer,” he said. “We were moving at 100 miles an hour.”

In fall 2015, David and Kim stopped for a bite at an airport restaurant. Kim went to use the bathroom and did not come back. David sensed that something was wrong and went to look for her, finding her outside of the restroom, disoriented. When she saw David, she started bawling. They knew something was not right.

Two neurologists gave them the same diagnosis: early-onset Alzheimer’s.

What followed was a lot of confusion, a lot of research, and a lot of crying. Not long after Kim’s diagnosis, a friend of David’s shared some wisdom: “Just remember, you’re in it for the long haul.”

As the initial shock of the diagnosis faded, David prepared himself for the long haul of becoming his wife’s primary caregiver.

For most caregivers in these early stages, it is difficult to figure out what exactly you’re supposed to be doing to care for your parent, spouse, or other loved one. For David, and countless other caregivers in Dallas, the support and community provided by AWARE has made a tremendous difference.

AWARE has been dedicated to fighting Alzheimer’s in Dallas since 1989, providing a gateway to education and resources for caregivers and patients and funding for North Texas nonprofits that research cures and prevention.

Kathleen Powell knew that Alzheimer’s ran in her family but was still completely stunned when her mother was formally diagnosed. Kathleen and her family needed help but weren’t sure where to turn. AWARE connected them with seminars, support groups, and doctors. The assistance provided by AWARE was a huge boost for Kathleen as she worked to step into the caregiver role and develop an effective care program for her mom.

AWARE’s 2019–2020 Grant Recipients include the Baylor Healthcare System and a UT Southwestern program developing a new diagnostic test that will provide earlier and more accurate diagnoses. Casa de Vida, another recipient, uses music, art, and games to engage individuals with Alzheimer’s, providing their caregivers with precious free time. Stomping Ground Comedy has implemented a free program, Improv for Caregivers, which uses improvisational comedy to teach caregivers effective strategies for communicating with their loved ones. Much of the value in these programs comes simply from helping families affected by Alzheimer’s know that they’re not alone.

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