The Long Goodbye

The Alzheimer’s Walk is coming to Clinton the first Saturday of May.  Read the story below to learn about one local persons experience with Alzheimer’s and how you can get involved and why you should get involved before April 1.  My Grandmother had Alzheimer’s Disease so I have first hand knowledge of how difficult it can be to watch someone you love battle the disease.   I’m sure many of you have experienced the effects of the disease in your family as well.

The Long Goodbye

Never did I dream at the age of 15 I would be a caregiver.  But when you love a family member you do what you have to do to keep them from a long-term care facility. 

I remember the day I realized the greatest woman in the world was truly not ok nor would she ever be the same again.  It was my night to spend the night with her, she was in her kitchen and picked up her cracker canister and tried to drink from it.  I began to laugh and as she turned to me with tears in her eyes, she said, “Christa it is not funny.”  I knew then the Grandma that I loved so much was quickly leaving me.

We took her to live at Westwood Nursing Home in May of 1990.  It was the hardest decision I ever saw my Dad have to make.  As I would later learn, he taught me a wonderful lesson about what you will do to care for a parent.  I had to use the lesson when he was diagnosed with cancer a few years later, but that is for another day’s blog.  Grandma Margaret passed away July 21, 1997. 

This disease is a progressive, degenerative brain disorder that attacks and slowly destroys the minds of its victims.  As many as 5.3 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s and that number is expected to increase to as many as 16 million by 2050.  Today, every 70 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s. There are nearly 11 million individuals serving as caregivers.

In 2007, I joined the West Central Missouri Alzheimer’s Association committee.  I soon became the chairperson.  I continue to chair the walk today and do it in memory of my grandma, Margaret Atchison.  We all walk and unite in a movement to reclaim the future for millions.

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s (formerly known as Memory Walk) is held the 1st Saturday of May each year at Old Country Club Park.  The unique thing about this walk is we do not require you raise any money to participate.  If you would like to raise money, you can register for the walk online at   Anyone that registers by April 1st and raises at least $50 will be entered into a drawing for a great prize!  You can also follow us on Facebook.

One out of every three Americans knows someone with Alzheimer’s.  That is a great reason to get involved….help us Walk to End Alzheimer’s.   For more information about the walk, educational events or getting involved you can call me at the Chamber 660-885-8166 or Mandy Westendorff at 660-885-3368.

About Craig Thompson

I am a young professional with two great sons, and I work in the healthcare setting. I am employed in hospital administration and serve as Chief Executive Officer at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Missouri. At GVMH we care for our families, friends and neighbors. We're committed to providing the safest, friendliest and most compassionate care to all we serve.
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