I have been following Jim Garner’s inspiring, heartbreaking, well-documented journey with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
He died in April, five years after his initial diagnosis. His mother and brother also died from the disease.
Garner was only 53 years old, and leaves behind a wife and two children. The family showed remarkable strength, grace and selflessness in allowing the Daily Press to document how Alzheimer’s impacted them over the last several years.
In a struggle for aid, Garner, a veteran, was denied access to government programs, including Medicaid, Medicare and social services. Despite 23 years in the Air Force, he Veterans Administration only offered Garner a 30-day respite stay in a one-star facility.
A friend of Jim’s wife set up a GoFundMe campaign with her reluctant approval. Karen, Jim’s wife, was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and donations. The money raised allowed Jim to be placed in a secure memory-care unit for the remainder of his life.
Don’t underestimate the power of a caring community.
Karen wants to dedicate the rest of her life to raising awareness for Alzheimer’s, but knows that she will have to get a job to support her two children. Just by allowing her family’s struggles and triumphs to be documented, she has done so much to personalize the toll that this disease takes on the entire family.
One quote from the interview with Karen really struck me. She was talking about how Jim always was about not sweating the small stuff and taught her to appreciate the seemingly mundane things in life. “We don’t realize how lucky we are that we can empty the dishwasher until we can no longer do it, “she said.
Wishing the Garners love, peace and healing as they mourn their loss.