Walk to End Alzheimer’s


Consumers Credit Union kicks off support of one of its core charities, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Listen in as host Lynne Jarman-Johnson speaks with one of the credit union’s internal champions of the event, Amy Cook, to learn more about the disease and how you can support its fight.



00:06 Lynne Jarman-Johnson: Money, I’m Home. Welcome in. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union. From finance to fitness, we’ve got it all for you. And this podcast today features something that we’re very proud of, and that’s our partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association and Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Now, it is currently Alzheimer’s month, something that we take not for granted at all here at Consumers Credit Union. And we’ve got a very special guest, one of our organizers of the Alzheimer’s Walk that’s coming up this week. Amy Cook, thanks so much for being with us today.

00:39 Amy Cook: Thanks for having me.

00:41 LJJ: I absolutely love that what we do with our charitable partners is that we have champions in Consumers, and you happen to be one of the champions this year for Walk to End Alzheimer’s. But I’ll tell you, it’s been a really different year, hasn’t it?

00:56 AC: It has been different in so many ways.

01:00 LJJ: Tell us a little bit about what’s been going on with COVID and how that has impacted the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

01:05 AC: So, like many charitable events, we’ve gone virtual. So the Alzheimer’s Association is doing a really cool online ceremony like we would normally do at the walk itself. So there’s an opening ceremony starting at 11 a.m. Usually they have different speakers. It’s really great and powerful to listen to, and then from there, they do the walk. So you do it on your own. You just do it with your family, with your friends, anybody that really means a lot to you. And you can do it in your neighborhood. You can really do it wherever you want, and then they’re still doing the Promise Garden in Bronson Park, downtown Kalamazoo, and that’s viewable after noon. So, you can do your walk, you can take a drive with your family and see all those beautiful flowers that they put out.

01:55 LJJ: And the flowers do represent Forget-Me-Not. And my mom had Alzheimer’s, and she passed away. We were with her for 20 years in our own home. So we were very blessed to have a very vibrant mind with us that all of a sudden was cut short from Alzheimer’s. You know, it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. And I think that… I don’t mean to say it as a pun, but that’s just mind-blowing to me.

02:25 AC: It is.

02:26 LJJ: So tell us, Amy, how did you get involved?

02:29 AC: So I have been the coach here for Consumers Credit Union for about the last five years. Before that, I’ve been involved in the walk for 12 years, just walking. Before I started working at Consumers eight years ago, I worked in assisted living. So I worked in the secure units for people who have Alzheimer’s and advanced dementia. I started doing that when I was 18 at one place during college, and then I moved to another when I came to Western.

03:00 LJJ: Wow, so you really have seen it all. You’ve seen not only the caregiving that takes place, but then the family unit that is affected and those who have Alzheimer’s and what that really does to a body.

03:15 AC: Absolutely, and I’ll tell you, I loved that job. I really did. I loved building those relationships with those folks and the families, and being there, not just for actual caregiving, like their activities of daily living, but to be there as a support person.

03:32 LJJ: Wow, that’s awesome. Do you know, we have a wonderful partnership with Van Andel Institute, who does quite a bit of research on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia, and they just gave me some stats. And this is alarming to me that in 2018, there were 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, and they expect that by 2050, it will be 14 million.

03:58 AC: Wow.

03:58 LJJ: That then affects people, the caregivers themselves. One other estimate that I find very heart-warming, but also truly, you know, you have cared for those with Alzheimer’s. It is not an easy job. It is a very worthwhile job, but caring is difficult, and caregivers provided an estimated 15 billion hours of care, valued at nearly $234 billion. That’s people in their homes caring for people with Alzheimer’s. You must see and know that what we’re doing for this walk is absolutely essential.

04:38 AC: Absolutely, the Alzheimer’s Association does such a great job of really supporting families and caregivers and making sure that you have somebody to talk to if you need to.

04:49 LJJ: So when you decided to help out, tell us a little bit about how Consumers and how you help organize and rally the troops?

04:57 AC: So what I love is that I’m able to do this while I’m doing my job. So I don’t need to take my personal time off to organize these things. Consumers really supports me while I’m gathering volunteers or thinking of fundraising ideas for our team. What a lot of people don’t know is most of our fundraising really is internal here; it’s just our team raising money. We’re not necessarily asking the public to donate to us. And it’s just great that our team really rallies behind it. So, in the past, we’ve gotten volunteers to help with registration in the walk. I mean, some years it’s 20, 25 volunteers, which is amazing. But this year is a little bit different, so our fundraising isn’t necessarily like where we’re gathering and maybe doing an ice cream social or something like that. We’re actually doing pictures of the Forget-Me-Not that we can gift to our family members or our friends that it really means a lot to. And we’re encouraging our teammates to walk and post their pictures so we can all celebrate together that we’re supporting such an amazing cause.

06:08 LJJ: I know that members who are listening and who would like to donate or be a part of our virtual walk can, it isn’t… We really would like you to head to consumerscu.org and find out how you can hit that donate button and either your time. You mentioned, Amy, the Forget-Me-Nots. I know we have a graphic designer, Haley, who designed that for us, and internally there is going to be Forget-Me-Nots in many, many people’s homes.

06:37 AC: Yeah. And really, I think we’re just so fortunate to have such a great team that really supports this, and my co-chair, Kristen Smith, and I co-chair it together. It’s great that we have each other to support and bounce ideas off of, of how we can really raise money for this.

06:55 LJJ: I hope you don’t mind me asking this question, I didn’t tell you I was going to, but the fact that you have a background in caregiving, are you watching what’s happening with COVID, and are you fearing the actual care, not meaning physical care, but mental and emotional care that is sometimes being withdrawn when you get into places of senior care facilities due to the fact that COVID has shut everything down?

07:21 AC: It’s really hard to see. It’s not like we have much of an option, honestly. COVID would run so quickly through a nursing home or assisted living, and we want to keep those folks safe, but having those visitors is so important. Honestly, I drive past an assisted living home almost every day on the way to taking my kids to daycare, and I do see folks’ families outside the windows visiting that way, so whatever way we can find. I know people have been writing letters to folks that they don’t even know, just to keep that mental health up for our residents.

08:00 LJJ: That’s a really good point that we can all do that, send a cute, a quick note and get it into rooms that possibly they don’t have maybe as many visitors even outside that they could have. So, Amy, give us a little recap of Walk to End Alzheimer’s. It is a wonderful organization, the Alzheimer’s Association, with such amazing information on their website. As somebody who did care for an individual with Alzheimer’s, the more information that you have, you can’t have enough, you just can’t have enough.

08:32 AC: Yep, so on the 20th, so Sunday, we have the 11:00 a.m. opening ceremony. Great speakers, great to listen to. After that, 11:30, plan to walk in your neighborhood or wherever you’re at with your loved ones. And then, if you’re taking a drive, go by Bronson Park and see the Promise Garden there.

08:55 LJJ: So, if somebody can’t walk on Sunday and they’re listening and it happens to be maybe mid-week, hey, it’s okay, get those shoes on and go.

09:03 AC: Fine. Do it.

09:04 LJJ: That’s awesome. Well, hey, Amy and Kristen, who is your co-chair, thank you so much for everything that you guys do to bring attention to this disease, this horrific disease that hits so many of us. But also, thank you for your care and most important, your passion for Alzheimer’s disease and ending it.

09:24 AC: Thank you so much for your support.

09:27 LJJ: I’ll tell you what, this is Money, I’m Home, from finance to fitness. And we sure do appreciate Amy today. If you have a topic that you would like focused on, please give us a call or send in an expert. We’d love to talk to them. Thank you, Jake Esselink, for your wonderful production skills today. And we hope you have a wonderful week. And don’t forget, it is never too late to get involved in something in your community. Today we’re focusing on Walk to End Alzheimer’s, but there’s so many that are out there. COVID isn’t going to stop us from doing that. Thank you so much. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson. Money, I’m Home, from finance to fitness with Consumers Credit Union.



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