Meet our Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer's Abbotsford honouree: Barb Raper
On August 16, 2017, high in the Abbotsford sky, Barb Raper glided peacefully through the air, towards her friends and family below. She had dreamed of sky diving since she was a little girl and on her 69th birthday, several years after her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, Barb’s dream became a reality.
In her early 60s, Barb began to struggle finding words. She and her family suspected it was Alzheimer’s disease, but Barb’s doctor wasn’t concerned. As her symptoms progressed, Barb’s family supported her and advocated for her referral to a neurologist.
“It was in the back of our minds,” says her daughter Deanne Matthews. “I think she knew deep down that it was Alzheimer’s, but she didn’t want to believe it because she had seen her mom go through the disease.”
The first year following her diagnosis, Barb, a fiercely independent woman, was able to live as she had pre-diagnosis. She did, however, begin having tough conversations with Deanne, her husband Terry and their daughter Kelly about decisions she wanted made further into her journey, should her communication skills diminish.
“Those conversations are hard and sad but they’re so important,” Deanne says. “For my mom, there’s now peace of mind.”
When Barb’s abilities declined, she and her family accessed several support and education programs through the Alzheimer Society of B.C. She currently attends the fitness and social program Minds in Motion® with Deanne and she continues to participate in social activities with her friends and family.
“I know she struggles with feeling anxious or embarrassed or with not getting the words out, but she pushes through,” Deanne says. “She’s not allowing this disease to own her. It’s like she owns the disease.”
When Barb landed amid the crowd of her loved ones last August, she demonstrated that attitude, and given the chance, she says she’d do it again.
Walk with Barb at the Abbotsford Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer's on Sunday, May 6. Together, we make memories matter.