Why I Walk: Beth Doolan

Beth Doolan is a Tazewell county resident, Alzheimer’s Association volunteer, wife, daughter and sister. Above all these things, she is someone who has directly been affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Beth’s brother had always been her best friend. Being the only children, they had bonded throughout their childhood and stayed close into adulthood. Beth first noticed something wasn’t right with Fred when he had gotten lost one day. This wasn’t typical of Fred, a man who had always had a sharp mind; she knew it was a red flag. As time progressed family and friends noticed his focus fading and memory decreasing. Soon after this, Fred was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the young age of 58.

Fred had always been a light-hearted guy and as the Alzheimer’s progressed, she noticed dramatic changes in his personality. He was mean and hateful and knew her less and less. Beth lived for the moments when his old personality would shine through. One moment stands out to her in particular. As she did on a typical day, Beth went to visit Fred in his nursing home. She walked into his room to see a beautiful embrace between Fred and an aide, but couldn’t help but say, “I wish he’d hug me like that”. With a little encouragement, Fred embraced Beth in a hug and began sniffing her, as if suddenly remembering the scent of her. “That was that last time I felt like he knew who I was,” she expressed, with tears filling her eyes. Her friend who was with her was able to capture this beautiful moment in the picture shown below.

The last time Beth felt like her brother, Fred, knew who he was.

The last time Beth felt like her brother, Fred, knew who he was.

Beth witnessed and lived through the effects of Alzheimer’s and knew she couldn’t just watch this disease effect her brother and so many others. “I can’t sit around and let this eat me up. I have to do something,” she proclaimed. She reached out to the Alzheimer’s Association, Central Illinois Chapter for support and advocacy. Her advice to anyone who is effected by Alzheimer’s is to seek support, get educated and discover what the future will hold. Together we can help #ENDALZ

Fred Laidendorf passed away from Alzheimer’s disease at age 61. She had hated being the youngest kid, but now, she says, it’s worse being the only. Beth participates in the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s for Team Fred in Tazewell County and looks forward to reaching her goal of raising $1,000.

Interested in joining Beth in the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease? Visit alz.org/walk to find a walk near you. 

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