OBERLIN, Ohio — November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month, and it's time to heighten awareness about the disease and show support to those affected by it.
Three sisters from Oberlin, Ohio, captured the hearts of millions when their discussion about potato salad went viral on social media.
On Twitter, users worldwide said it was evident that shrimp definitely did not belong in the potato salad.
What most people didn't know about Reacie, Louise and Linell were that all three were battling Alzheimer's disease.
“We knew that things were starting, but we weren’t ready to take hold and deal with it. It’s a process, and first off mentally, you have to accept, and then you have to take charge."
Alzheimer's is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that destroys brain cells, causing memory loss and the inability to make decisions.
Currently, more than six million Americans are living with the disease.
More than likely, someone you know has it or has someone in their family who is battling the disease.
Right now, over 83% of the help provided to Alzheimer's and dementia patients comes from family members. The disease can take a physical, emotional and financial toll on the entire family.
"You have to remember that they’re not at their best, and you can’t take everything that they say or their actions to heart. Your main goal is to keep them safe and be there and be there for them," said Rose
Debbie Walker, Linell's daughter-in-law, says instead of focusing on the disease, she tries to remember them at their best.
“All of the sisters actually were really spirited people. Strong-willed, but also very giving, and all loved to dance! I remember at parties, they’d be out there line dancing, and I was like, 'how did that come up?' It was always something,” said Walker.
When they are all together, Walker would remind Auntie Wheezy of who she was to her. She says that showing pictures and telling stories helped them to overcome the trials and tribulations of this disease.
“For Aunt Louise, her birthday was about her generosity when our kids were growing up. Our kids are 10 years apart. When our son was in middle school, like most kids, he wanted everything that was super expensive. My husband and I were both working minimum-wage jobs at the time and couldn’t afford that. But Aunt Louise would take him shopping and he would have all the cool clothes."
Mary Ertle, program director of the Alzheimer's Association Cleveland Area Chapter, says they are here to help any individual going through a tough time while caring for a loved one.
“We offer a 24/7 hotline, so anytime you have questions or concerns or want to talk to someone that understands the disease, they can always give us a call. We never close. We also have a program called Care Consultation where there's one-on-one support for caregivers to talk through their specifics with a licensed social worker.”
On Tuesday, Nov. 29, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Cleveland Alzheimer's Association chapter is hosting a free boxed lunch, a 10-minute family portrait session and dementia-friendly activities. More information can be found at https://www.alz.org/cleveland/events.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on Sept. 28, 2022.