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The Weather of Alzheimer’s

When you are organizing an event, say, the Tacoma South Sound Alzheimer’s Walk, there can be an illusion that all moving parts are in your control, leaving you thinking: this event will be successful/fantastic/memorable (insert your favorite adjective here) so long as I check off all items on my to-do list.

We could view life as an event. The event. So the narrative goes, as long as I check-off all of the items: be respectful, do good, establish a career and so on, then I will be successful or (insert your favorite adjective here).

In today’s early Autumn event, there is at least one piece that remained uncheckable. The weather.

The weather, with all of its unknowns and impulsivity is similar to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

During a two-hour period of time, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., there was as much variation in the sky as there were people populating Todd Field, at the University of Puget Sound.

The sky was a solid sheet of arctic blue separated only by two main air streams. Within a matter of minutes, the sky shifted to an admiral blue populated by picture-book clouds and rays of sunshine. The imperceptible breeze shifted to barely detectable rain droplets.

A mildly warm autumn afternoon became disguised by a frigid rain storm too gusty even for an umbrella. In between the dramatic changes were the smaller ones too, warm became cold when some cumulus clouds blocked the now feeble sun, rain became stinging stones.

Miniature purple cowbells chimed. Pieces of synthetic orange, yellow and purple flower petals swirled in the air and decorated sidewalks. Bubbles were attempting to be blown from wands. Umbrellas flipped inside out. The announcer suggested over the loud speaker: 1-milers to the left and 2-milers to the right. Do I go left or right? Make a decision.

In the early stages of diagnosis, one may be hesitant or resistant to know more about Alzheimer’s.

For a moment, wicked freezing wind and sharp sideways rains, laughter, then silence.

You may feel anger toward or shame about a diagnosis.

Drop. Drop. Drop. The rain seems to be subsiding.

When you process new information about your diagnosis it is important to do so at your own pace – one that feels comfortable for you.

Round the corner and the sun shone.

Knowing more about Alzheimer’s can reduce the stigma and increase one’s confidence.

The sun shined and the sky lit up blue – presenting shades ranging from sapphire to cobalt to indigo. And then there were beeping cars like flashes of thoughts. Skies shifted across the gray spectrum from cinder block to pewter to forged iron much like the emotional processing of how one can feel so alone.

Then there were straight away streets, friendly faces and familiar feelings in an oh so unfamiliar state of being.

Experiences with Alzheimer’s, unlike the weather, is a checkable item.

Underneath the unknowns there is comfort in knowing and deliberate calm wrapped around impulsivity.


Adrienne Ione is a dynamic, mindful, high-fiving, cognitive behavioral therapist, certified dementia specialist and senior personal trainer. Founder of Silver Linings Integrative Health, a company with an aim of promoting health, fitness and wellbeing opportunities for people to thrive across the lifespan.

MFN Industry Expert