‘I know you are going to forget me’: How Alzheimer’s disease affects loved ones

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Just months before the biggest day of her life, Kara Hanley never thought she'd hear that her mother would be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

“My mom wasn’t going to be able to be part of the wedding planning, my mom wasn't going to be able to be a part of my wedding day," said Hanley.

At 47 years old, it was news her mother wasn't expecting either.

"It was so hard for both us to look at each other and say the words, 'I know you are going to forget me.'"

Cheryl Myers was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease in 2012. Because she was so young, it took a year and a half before she was officially diagnosed.

"She was having trouble with directions, she was having trouble in her job, just following simple tasks."

Natalie Sutton, the chapter executive of the Alzheimer's Association Greater Indiana Chapter, said early or younger onset Alzheimer's is when someone is diagnosed with the disease before the age of 65.

"This accounts for about 200,000 cases nationwide of the 5.7 million cases of Alzheimer's disease," said Sutton.

After living with Alzheimer's disease for more than six years, Myers is now nonverbal and completely reliant on others.

However, with support from the Alzheimer's Association, she's still able to live at home, where her husband, children and other family members serve as her care team.

"Seeing the effect that it has had on my family and seeing the effect that it could potentially have on my husband or my future children, it's so important to me that this disease comes to an end," said Hanley.

On Saturday, she will take part in the Walk to End Alzheimer's where she will walk in honor of her mother, Cheryl -- a woman she strives to become.

"My mom had this way of making every single person she came in contact with feel important," said Hanley. "She had a way of loving on them. That's my goal, is to be that person that she was. Just to be able to bring that light to someone's day, to enjoy those 15 seconds with someone and to be able to love on them the way she did."

The Walk to End Alzheimer's will take place Saturday, Oct. 6. Click here to register to walk! 

To donate to Cheryl's Walk to End Alzheimer's page, click here.

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