I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview Lori LaBey, one of the hardest working Alzheimer's and dementia care advocates that I have the pleasure of knowing.
As we began conversing I was finally able to satiate my curiosity by asking her to verifying something I've heard that absolutely astonishes me. Her mother, now at the age of 85, has been living with Alzheimer's for the past 30 years!
Never have I heard of anyone living that long with this disease. I've known of a few people that have lived a little more than 20 years, but even that is rare. Some may stay in the mid-stage of this disease for 10 years or better, but to go 30 years is amazing.
Having dealt with this disease in her family for so many decades, LaBey undertook an aggressive campaign to help educate others and spread awareness to the general public.
A couple of years ago she began hosting the first radio show that has ever been completely dedicated to Alzheimer's and other dementia-related diseases. It's called "Alzheimer's Speaks," and has now been named the "#1 online influence for Alzheimer's" by Dr. Oz and Sharecare.
She also emcees free "webinars" twice a month called Dementia Chats, where she brings in 2-3 guests who are struggling with cognitive impairment. My opinion has always been that one of the best learning environments regarding this illness is to put caregivers and patients together and have an informative discussion. That's exactly what she has done!
Another fantastic feat this woman has accomplished is that she has started one of the first Memory Cafés here in The United States. Not to be confused with a standard support group, these social gatherings are for those afflicted with dementia. They may not even discuss the disease at these meetings. Instead it gives them an hour or so to just be themselves with others who truly understand what it is they're going through. This concept was initiated in England and is now spreading across the U.S. I have been told that there are now more than a hundred Memory Cafés here in this country.
Lori LaBey also is a proud and loyal promoter of the Purple Angel Logo, which the Alzheimer's/Dementia Hospital Wristband Program have adopted. It is truly becoming the global symbol for dementia.
Everything I mentioned, and more, can be found on the Alzheimer's Speaks website: www .alzheimersspeaks.com
I've had the privilege of being a guest on Lori's radio show several times over the past two years, and I have to say she is a natural at being a host. Her show is broadcast live on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. Just visit her website for the show's informative details.
If you're interested in starting a Memory Café in your community, call the Alzheimer's Association at (800) 272-3900 and they will provide you with the info you need to get started.
If we all work together, we just may make this world more "dementia friendly."