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Walk to remember those with faded memories

Albert and Audrey Schultz visit at The Cottages at Heritage. Audrey was diagnosed with Alzheimer's-type-dementia a year ago. The Cottages at Heritage is sponsoring A Walk to Remember to support Alzheimer's research. (Submitted photo)

"Where's Albert?" asks Audrey. "He will be here soon" reassures Nikki Nicholson, resident assistant at The Cottages at Heritage.

Within a few minutes the doorbell rings and Albert Schultz appears for his morning visit with Audrey. After being together for 58 years, the separation of location doesn't stop his devotion. Neither does the dementia that is slowly taking Audrey's memory.

"It is an awful disease," says Albert. "It is hard to watch."

Yet, he knows how important his twice-daily visits are to reassure Audrey that he and their daughter Brinda are still surrounding her with love even when they don't live with her.

Diagnosed with Alzheimer's-type-dementia a year ago, Audrey's disease progressed quickly and it soon became apparent she needed additional care. The family made the difficult decision to find an assisted living especially designed for memory care residents. Audrey became the first resident at the Cottages at Heritage in May.

To be closer to Audrey and to make the daily trips easier, last month Albert moved into Park Villa, which is attached to the Cottages by covered hallways.

Audrey loved to cook and is a fan of the Food Network. Albert remembers her beef roast dinners.

"She was a regular, old-fashioned cook," Albert said. "She always had my meals ready when I got home from work."

While other Cottage residents may read a book, Audrey will open a cookbook and with the help of a staff member, she reminisces about menus and recipes of days past.

As many as 5.3 million people in the United States have Alzheimer's disease and someone new is added to those ranks every 70 seconds. By 2050 experts predict there will be as many as 11-16 million Americans living with the disease. There are no survivors and there is no cure.

To support the research being done by the Alzheimer's Association, The Cottages at Heritage is sponsoring A Walk to Remember at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19 at 611 West 6th Street in Park Rapids to raise money for Alzheimer's research. The walk will not be long, but the spirit of the fight against the devastating disease will be strong.

For more information on participating in the walk or to volunteer, please call Iva at the Cottages at 237-8234.