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You Don’t Have To Walk The Road Alone

The community support programs of the Alzheimer & Parkinson Association of Indian River County offer a lifeline to those in need

Every Monday afternoon Dawn Miller (center, dressed in black), Vero Beach Museum of Art’s “Art for Health’s Sake” program manager, leads a movement class for those with Parkinson’s. Photo by Greg Hills

Every Monday afternoon Dawn Miller (center, dressed in black), Vero Beach Museum of Art’s “Art for Health’s Sake” program manager, leads a movement class for those with Parkinson’s. Photo by Greg Hills

Chris Loftus saw little signs, the increased forgetfulness, but didn’t fully grasp what was going on with her husband Don until he was well on the road to dementia. The man she had been married to for 24 years, her former business partner and past CEO of Treasure Coast Community Health had mentally wandered off course and there was nothing she could do to bring him back.

“The ironic thing is I thought I knew all about dementia. I was on the board of the Alzheimer & Parkinson Association of Indian River County, I wrote the newsletter, I counseled people, never dreaming that one day I would be walking that road with my husband,” says Chris, who has been involved with the local nonprofit since she and Don moved to Vero Beach 17 years ago to care for her mother who had Alzheimer’s. 

“Most of us learn about dementia through our parents, very few of us learn about it from our spouse. Nobody wants to talk about it until you put shoes on and take the journey. You don’t really ‘get it’ until somebody in the family gets it,” says Chris. “Connecting with others who are going through what you’re going through is so important. The support groups here are my life line.”