Alzheimer’s Killed my Mom Five Years Ago

Ida Arnette
Ida Arnette

It was 5 years ago today that my mom, Ida, died from Alzheimer’s.

In thinking about her today, many wonderful memories brought a smile to my face. When asked about one of them, I said I remember as a 10 year-old sitting in the kitchen while she cooked dinner, talking about life.

Even at 10 she ed me like an adult, we spoke like adults and she shared her values with me that define me today in many ways.

As the decades passed and Alzheimer’s took hold of my mom, I became the adult and she became the 10 year-old. I became responsible for helping her know right from wrong, how to people, what to wear, when to brush her teeth. The parallels of life uncanny, uncomfortable and the illness unacceptable.

In the final days, all my brother, my family and I could do was to take care of her, keep her safe and love her as she had us all our lives.

Since 2009 then there has been great progress in understanding the disease but there still is no cure. Many families are still surprised when they get the of Alzheimer’s just thinking their mom or dad, or even husband or wife was just getting old.

And they are shocked when someone in their late 40s or 50s are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Caregivers are the silent victim of this disease often giving up their own life goals to care for their loved one. They often make such financial sacrifices that bankruptcy is required to keep going. This situation is unacceptable yet prevalent across the world.

So it is with that mandate that I continue to raise awareness and funds for research on behalf of Alzheimer’s non-profits.

And it is today, I remember my own mom with love, admiration and with urgency.

Memories are Everything

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13 thoughts on “Alzheimer’s Killed my Mom Five Years Ago

  1. I recently published my article on newly researched natural medicinal plants and their potential for reversing the progression of ALS, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. It can be found at:

    It is the culmination of several years work, having studied ethnobotanical medicine and the field of neurodisease, making connections between the two in the search for something viable in terms of alternative treatment options. I have been greatly motivated by the unfortunate loss of a close friends’ mother due to ALS some years ago. Hopefully, you will find reading it worthwhile.

    Daniel Gustafsson, Sweden

  2. I can’t thank you enough for taking me on this incredible journey to the top of K2. I know this is dumb, but as you showed the panoramic view with the clouds below the top, I kept looking for Gene knowing he was just a breath away from you. It will be 16 years in January that I lost Gene to Alzheimer’s and 15 years this month when I began my own journey to try to make a difference in the lives of so many families who are living with this horrible disease. There were many times when I felt all alone and wondered why I was putting so much effort and energy into running into a brick wall. Through these many years, it seemed like each time I was ready to give up, I would get a call, an email, and most recently a friend invitation on face book from individuals I didn’t know, who shared my passion for the Alzheimer’s cause. Our stories made us friends and their thanks and words of encouragement was enough to keep me going. Good luck Alan in reaching your goal of $1 million for Alzheimer’s. I plan to keep going on my climb until I “conquer” Capitol Hill.

  3. My Dad didn’t die from Alzheimer’s; he remained totally aware as ALS took his body. It’s been 27 years and I still miss him, miss the loss of opportunity. I’m amazed at the amount of research and support funds currently being raised for ALS by the ice bucket challenge and wonder if there might be an attention-grabbing fundraising theme to employ toward AD, in addition to your amazing mountain climbing Alan. I mean AMAZING! Just thinking out loud, and wishing you peace as you remember your Mom.

  4. Hi Alan, Congrats on your successful climb of K2! We exchanged e-mails back in 2006 or so, I climbed Shishapangma with Jamie McGuiness in 2005 and I think you were looking for some info. Anyways I’ve enjoyed your blogs and have checked your web site from time to time. My Dad died this past May 31 and my Mom is in a nursing home. They both have or had dementia/Alzheimers. I had to deal with moving them out of their house and into Assisted Living last May and than to a nursing home. It was a rough time. They were pretty healthy except for their memory. I did donate the proceeds from my Dad’s funeral to your climb/Alzheimer’s Association. My genetics have been pretty good so far but I’ll probably end up like my parents, (hopefully not) my Dad did live to 88 years old and was good up until his last 2 years and my mom is 87. Anyways just wanted to share a few thoughts and wish you good luck and climb on! Ps I’m still climbing hard in the US have not had any excursions outside the US. Good luck, keep up your work for Alzheimers, and climb safe! Ed

  5. I too lost my Dad about 5 years ago Alan. He had severe dementia the last several years although we never got an official AD diagnosis. His doctor nonchalantly told us almost all dementia in North American is AD. He mercifully passed away from a massive heart attack one day. This “greatest generation” was awesome and I’m glad he and even us 60-year-old kids grew up in the Barney Fife era and not this growing police state we’re experiencing today. He never got the hang of computers and other consumer electronics but he was so smart and could build anything with his hands and a little wood. We forget how much has changed in 50 years! The really sad part about growing old is losing so many close friends. They mostly died off one by one or succumbed to dementia or strokes themselves. Eventually, and if they are the lucky ones, they have only us devoted children to help them take that final journey. May they rest in peace.

    1. Mike, as my Dad was in the ICU and my Mom looking on without understanding, I asked their GP what he thought was wrong with my mom. “She has Alzheimer’s” then walked briskly away ….

  6. Alan

    My dad passed in January of the same year from AD, in the run up, through the missed diagnosis, the fear, anxiety, depression dad was dealing with it was difficult for my mom and the rest of the family. Once we figured it out, and I mean we since we asked the dr “don’t you think it’s Alzheimer’s ? The VA medical/psychiatric team never offered AD as a diagnosis, so this definitely made things worse. But I never felt as a victim of the disease, at first I was just happy to have a name for it. Through the time when we finally moved dad from my parents house to the hospital to the nursing home and his end of days at the nursing home from the prospective of history I was honored to help. It was different in the moment of course, some days I would rather have been water boarded then see the suffering, anger, confusion etc. But eventually AD takes even the confusion and anger, what was left reminded me more of a first hatched bird, featherless and angular with oversized joints and hands and not enough muscle. I always looked for that which was left of my father, in the end it was his hands that stayed my fathers hands, I would hold them and remember when his hand were muscled and hard from his daily work with hand tools. AD is really something to go through for everyone, I still miss sitting with my dad holding his hand as he slept, wondering still how his end would come. I would not trade any of those times now, sitting holding his hand was what I could do, I think not knowing what to do, what to expect was the most difficult part of the AD. In our case no one really told us in specifics what was going happen, and when we would ask, the Drs seemed to try to protect us. In the end I told the Drs what medicine to remove him from. Talking about it all now brings up the memories of that struggle “are we doing the right thing?” “Is there more we should be doing?” Those were the haunting thoughts and how little there really was that we could do. So thank you for your post about your mom, and thank you for the K2 adventure.

  7. Alan, your Mother is looking down from Heaven smiling. She loves you for what you’re doing to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. She’s proud of her son.

  8. Your mother Ida would have been proud of your efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Your fund-raising is a loving tribute to her life, and her hopes for yours.

  9. Nice remembrance. I shared it to my Facebook page. You Mom looks like such a kind soul.

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