TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – A fundraiser Saturday will have participants falling over the edge of a building – safely – to parallel the downward impact of Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s all in an effort to help continue one family’s mission to provide care for those living with the devastating disease.
Stephanie James is no stranger to Alzheimer’s disease. In the 1980s, her mother-in-law, Doris K. James, was diagnosed.
“My mother-in-law was keeping my son while I worked, he was a baby, he was under the age of 1,” James said, “and we started noticing some subtle changes.”
At the time, James said little was known about the progressive disease that causes dimentia and brain cells to die. Because of this, her father-in-law had difficulty finding someone to care for his wife while he was at work. The couple was in their 50s.
“The sitters were not familiar with this disease and it scared them,” said James. “And so, unfortunately, we didn’t have any other avenues but to take her to a nursing home.”
Her father-in-law, Murray James, started a support group where people could share their experiences with the dibilitating disease. Fast-forward 40 years and that support group has evolved into Our Place, a day respite center that provides care for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
And James and her family are grateful for this place.
“Well, the words are difficult because now my mother, you know, is here,” said James. “It’s just a wonderful outlet for her.”
At Our Place, the patients are called “friends,” and volunteers keep them engaged with activities like crafts to break up their day and provide a break for the caregivers.
“Here there are just amazing wonderful people who love and care for her as an individual,” said James. “And obviously help her retain her dignity and just show her all sorts of love.”
For James, these friends have become an extension of family.
In honor of James’s mother-in-law, the Doris K. James Memorial Over the Edge fundraiser will take place Saturday, September 14 at Texas A&M University – Texarkana. Participants will rappel 60 feet off a building on campus.
All funds raised will go toward providing respite care.
For more information or to donate, visit alztristate.org.