November 28, 2013
It was after a Thanksgiving meal four years ago when Icscella Wittich realized something was wrong with her husbanded, Ernie. They a saw a doctor and found out he had Alzheimer's Disease.
"Once you get the diagnosis, you can't just sit back and weep about it," Iscella said. "You have to move forward."
They haven't let the disease slow them down. Last summer, they took a four-week road trip, driving to the Grand Canyon and on to California.
"We had a marvelous trip," Iscella recalled. "We shared many wonderful memories and we try to recall them as often as we can."
Married for 56 years, Iscella and Ernie are focused on the future, and making more memories.
"We took those wedding vows and that's what you do, you march forward," Iscella said. "Every day I say 'Dear God please give me the energy and strength to get through this' and I always do."
Like many families coping with Alzheimer's Disease, the Wittichs turned to the Alzheimer's Association. The organization offers several support groups for family members and caregivers. There's also a hotline for information on warning signs and what to do if you think a loved one may have the disease.
November is Alzheimer's Awareness month, and it's also the busiest time of year for the Alzheimer's Association.
"People will often go home for the holidays and maybe they haven't seen their family members for six months, or even a year in some cases, so they will really notice significant changes," said Ellen Phipps, the vice president of the Alzheimer's Association. "Our helpline calls actually increase."
Always looking forward, Iscella organizes a group to walk in the annual Walk to End Alzheimer's with the team "jovial joggers'. Her team is one of the leading fundraisers in Central Virginia. Iscella says her goal is to help fund research with the hope of wiping out the disease in the near future.
"You look at the little children running on the street today and I think, 'Oh, I hope when they are my age i hope this is a long gone thing'."