Living Gracefully With Younger Onset Alzheimer’s

Young onset Alzheimer's Disease

By Susan Frick

Every month for many years, I have had the wonderful opportunity to listen to an amazing group of people. Their knowledge and insights have taught me about living while facing some of life’s most difficult challenges.

Sponsored by the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, this monthly group is for people living with younger onset Alzheimer’s disease (diagnosed under the age of 65). Our group, called Without Warning, is for both the person experiencing memory problems and the family members or friends who are also on this journey. We meet to talk about how to live gracefully with Alzheimer’s. We talk about the difficulties, but also the triumphs. I’m one of the several staff people who help coordinate this growing and vital program.

As you can imagine, having Alzheimer’s disease at such a young age is often unexpected and can be an overwhelming experience. These individuals describe Alzheimer’s as feeling like they have fallen into a pit and can’t find the way out. They talk about feeling disconnected from people who are right around them. They talk about a tired feeling they have never felt before. And, they talk about realizing that they are not the same spouse, parent, child or friend.

Through our monthly conversations, these individuals have taught me profound life lessons. They have shown me how important it is to face life’s challenges with honesty, humor and grace. They have shown me the power of going through life’s journey with others who understand and embrace you unconditionally. They have shown me the courage of being open and truly vulnerable. And, they have shown me that we are so much more than our memories. I am deeply blessed to learn from their immense wisdom.

Susan Frick, MSW, is a social worker with the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center.

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Without Warning is a program for people journeying with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Inspired by someone affected by younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Without Warning supports and empowers individuals and their families who face Alzheimer’s disease early in life.

Designed to enhance vitality and quality of life, Without Warning’s specifically tailored programs offer individuals and their families opportunities for education and support. By realizing that “we are not alone,” we hope individuals and their family members will find purpose, dignity and the opportunity to live each day with meaning and grace.

Meetings for the family

On a monthly basis, individuals and their family members who are living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease are invited for this meeting.

Meetings for the adult children

On a quarterly basis, adult children who are college-age and older are invited for this evening together.

Meetings for the children

Bimonthly, children in first grade through high school are invited for this time together.

* All meetings are at St. Peter’s Church in Elmhurst. Chicago, Illinois.

A prescreening is required for participation in all groups.
For information, call Susan Frick at (312) 942-5359 or cell phone (630) 698-4299

Endear supports the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center (RADC) at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center is one of 29 Alzheimer’s disease research centers across the country designated and funded by the National Institute on Aging. They provide a full spectrum of services in the diagnosis and care of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Endear provides a direct donation link to the Rush University Medical Center to aid in their research efforts. The link goes directly to Rush and they receive 100% of the donations made.

Please help further Early-onset Alzheimer’s research by making a donation here: http://rush.convio.net/endear

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