SEQUIM — Scary. Sad. Frustrating. While most days are good, Debbie Brady said, emotions tend to run the gamut for her and her husband, Jim, who at 59 is battling Alzheimer’s disease.
“The hardest part is right now,” said Debbie, who lives in Port Angeles and works in Sequim.
“He knows when I have to remind him of something. He knows. It’s very sad for him and scary. We’re doing our best to cherish what we have now.
“I love my husband more than life itself.”
The Bradys are among dozens of locals participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s, collectively the world’s largest event in raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research, on Saturday at Sequim High School, 601 N. Sequim Ave.
The Sequim walk is the only one planned on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Registration will begin at 8 a.m. Ceremonies will be at 9 a.m. and the walk will start at 9:30 a.m.
The event is free and open to the public. As of early this week, 18 teams and 66 participants have signed up with a goal to raise $41,000 in donations for the Alzheimer’s Association at the Sequim event.
As of Tuesday, the top fundraising teams were the East Jefferson Angels, with $2,515; Team Brady, with $1,060; Team 5, with $1,008; Team Kirby, with $1,000; and San Juan Villa Memory Care, with $689.
To find out more, register or support a team, visit act.alz.org.
The Bradys have been married for a little more than six years. Early last year, during a checkup with a doctor on the North Olympic Peninsula, physicians noticed Jim had some memory issues and referred him to a Port Townsend doctor.
By early December 2015, the Bradys had a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Debbie, who works full time, suddenly became a full-time caregiver as well. She allocates medications, attends doctor appointments and calls home from work two or three times a day.
“He can function and days vary, but I’m trying to balance work [and the] bulk of the home tasks as well,” Debbie said.
With Jim dealing with a disability he suffered at his work several years ago, his wife also handles the bulk of the couple’s finances.
“We tend to be positive, and most days are good,” she said. “I try to keep a positive attitude, [but there are] feelings of being overwhelmed, lonely, sad. I can’t do it all. I do my very best.”
She also struggles to find quality time as a couple and time for herself. That’s why she encourages those who know people battling Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia to help not just with kinds words — which are appreciated — but also kind actions.
“Encouraging words are wonderful, but actions [are better],” Debbie said. “Bring a meal. Show up, do some yard work.”
And, she stressed, get educated. Alzheimer’s becomes very real when you’re around a family struggling with it, she said.
Jim’s diagnosis is relatively recent, so Debbie is trying to follow her own advice of “educate, educate, educate” by reading about the disease and other forms of dementia, viewing message boards and making connections. That’s a key reason she formed Team Brady to take part in Saturday’s walk in Sequim.
“To me, [taking part] is to show my support and unity, to get and give support to others that are going through the same thing,” Debbie said.
“Just by seeing you’re not alone, it’s probably going to be a bit emotional and overwhelming.”
For more information about the walk, contact Katie Lamar at [email protected] or 206-529-3898.
For more about the Alzheimer’s Association, see www.alz.org.