This is my brother John LaGrant. He was diagnosed with dementia approximately 3-4 years ago. We thought it was Alzheimers, and was correctly diagnosed, just last year, with Lewy Body Dementia associated with Parkinsons disease.
The day this photo was taken in April 2018, my brother and I were in charge of breaking down boxes and disposing of all the paper, boxes, plastic that is associated with moving. John and my sister-in-law, Sandy, were moving to Nashville from California to be near my niece, Amy. It was a big move and there were hundreds of boxes.
My brother, went from being a fully engaged human being - a father, a husband, a son, a friend, a lover of the outdoors, a former CEO of an international company, a sportsman and the list goes on – to needing a white board to tell him what day it is and spending time in front of a television to keep him entertained. Once a man who made a potter’s bench from scratch for his wife, he now has forgotten how to use the tools that helped him build it. Like our father before him, I am losing my brother to a disease that ravages the brain.
Over these few days of getting the family unpacked, my brother and I connected. We laughed at the number of box cutters he kept losing, we worked as a team to organize and sort all the boxes and bags. Simple work, and my brother was engaged. For those few days he had a purpose, he had cognition and was very capable of the physicality of the work required. It struck me then, we could start a business helping people remove all the boxes, paper, and plastic as a result of moving, and give those with early stages of dementia some renewed purpose and give the caregivers some respite from the constant 24/7 care they need to provide. Wow, that felt like an overwhelming idea.
FAST FORWARD - to October 2019, I’m taking a course in Self Expression and Leadership from the Landmark organization. As part of our course, we are to create an impactful community project. My first thought was my brother and all the other people in our community in the early stages of dementia whose worlds are getting smaller. I could impact that community and other non-profit organizations who have a need for volunteers to assist with simple work at their establishments. DEMENTIA WORKS (a working title) was born. A total grassroots boot strap start up non-profit. I want to impact the senior community as quickly as possible and one way I could do that is to present Dementia Works to a population of seniors that will be attending the Power of Age event at the MD State Fairgrounds on October 30, 2019. The cost to exhibit is $600. I will also need to create an inexpensive yet informative display and have materials to pass out to the approximately 5,000 to 7,000 people that could attend. In addition, I will make connections with organizations who serve this senior population. I also require these early funds to use for fees to file for non-profit status with the State of MD and IRS. ONWARD!
I am building a team of people who are touched and inspired to make a difference with me to impact those with early stages of dementia and their caregivers.
Asking for this $2,000 is just the beginning. The event is on October 30 and our small and growing team could use these funds by Oct 25th to complete the tasks to get Dementia Works off the ground. In the future, we will be asking others to join our adventure, funds to pay for a van for transportation, and future employees...we're thinking big because dementia is a big challenge many of us face in our families.
I thank you in advance for your support - your time, your funds, your ideas and connections.