Evie’s Purpose: Alzheimer’s Disease Took Her Husband, But Not Her Spirit

Evie Vander Meer’s journey with her husband Mark was featured in the Frederick Magazine by Guy Fletcher in November 2019. 

Mark Vander Meer loved to drive and on one day in 2014, amid the shock of finally learning that the source of his mental struggles for the past several years was younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease, he was determined to drive home from his therapist’s office.

“I said, ‘You are not driving home,’” his wife, Evie Vander Meer, recalls. “He said, ‘Oh, yes I am.’” So, Mark drove home, with Evie assisting with the steering from her passenger seat. “I should have forced him to pull over, but I don’t know if I could have … because he was in a zone. He wasn’t staying between the lines [on the road] so I was driving from the side while he managed the accelerator.”

That striking day wasn’t the start of the Vander Meers’ Alzheimer’s journey, nor was it the end. Alzheimer’s, the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, is incurable and diagnosis offers one grim reality. Mark Vander Meer was just 65 years old when he succumbed to the disease last December.

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Our Story – Dave and Kathy Rogers

No one expects their life to be turned upside-down by a dementia diagnosis, but that is exactly what happened to us. In his prime, at only 49, my husband Dave, who is my partner in all things and the father of three, was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia. Dave worked construction and was the hardest working man I ever knew. Building on his reputation of honesty, quality and commitment, Dave developed a commercial construction company from the ground up. Together we had almost finished putting three wonderful kids through college and were looking forward to being empty nesters with time to slow down and relax and build towards retirement. My job as the Executive Director of Absolute Companion Care, an elder care company was something I loved. All our plans shattered into a million pieces on Christmas Eve 2015.

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Life Lessons Learned During Our Dementia Journey

by Anne Barber

On November 28, 2016, I lost my wonderful husband Ron after his (our) 10-year journey with dementia. He was 67 years old and had been diagnosed in his mid-50’s. I knew something was not “right” long before the official diagnosis, and I chalked it up to work stress! He was having trouble with directions while driving, hiring people to do chores he once enjoyed doing, his technical and math skills were diminishing, and I thought he just wanted more free time to golf!

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Lewy What?

A testimonial by Linda Baumler

My husband, Robert Baumler, passed away in 2018 at the age of 63 due to complications from Lewy Body Dementia. His death was accelerated due, in part, to medication errors by physicians who do not understand the disease. Robert’s neurological symptoms began at the age of 42 and he was initially diagnosed with a cerebellar disorder. He was experiencing pain and stiffness in his legs and trouble with balance and fine motor skills. He also began having terrible nightmares where he acted out his dreams by screaming, punching, and throwing things.

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What Sort Of Things Are Lost when Your Loved One Has Dementia?

Reflection by Mary Jones on the loss of her husband Bill Jones, Alzheimer’s disease with Lewy Body 

The slow loss of so much…little by little

For me, many of these were lost long before November 5, 2019:

Future memories with the love of my life

Plans for our future

The loving embrace of strong arms

A thoughtful man who consistently opened doors for me (houses, stores, cars…)

A fun “Pop” for my grandchildren

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Don’t Wait to Fulfill Your Dreams

Judy Marsiglia shares her story and her journey with her husband Ron 

Ron and I met and married in our early 40’s. We had many dreams and quite a long bucket list. We learned through life experiences that we needed to get started on our dreams. First, we bought a house, then Ron bought me my DREAM car, a green Jaguar. We cruised and we traveled; to Hawaii, the Caribbean, up the NE coast to Canada, up the NW Pacific coast, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and many other cities to watch the Orioles and/or Ravens play.

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