My name is Lori Castellani and I am 57 years old. I have been living with my Alzheimer’s diagnosis since 2013.
I knew something was wrong with my memory, at first, through my job. My co-worker and very good friend, Penny, told me that I was forgetting many of my routine tasks. Management didn’t know what to do with me; they didn’t understand and were very judgmental when it came to my forgetfulness. Penny was very helpful getting me to the right people in my union to help me transition out of my job. I wish that my manager and upper management staff was more informed about Alzheimer’s and other dementias and that there was a policy or plan in place to help.
At home, my husband did not believe I had the disease. I looked the same and had no visible signs so it was very hard for him to accept. He said, “Lori, everyone forgets sometimes”. He passed away before he could understand what Alzheimer’s is and how our life would have changed as I move along in my journey. My children are a blessing and are a supportive team. My daughter, Ashley, now lives with me and understands when my days are harder than others to remember. My son, Rick and his wife will soon become parent which means I will be a Grandmother. I am so excited!
My experience with the Alzheimer’s Association has been very rewarding. I am a member of the GAP program (Giving Alzheimer’s Purpose) although at first I was afraid to join the group. I’m somewhat a shy person and opening up is hard. It took a few missed meetings and phone calls from the GAP leader to convince me to keep coming back. One call she said, “we’re having pizza” and that’s what it took! It’s been over two years now and am a proud member and love being with the group.
I am a Women’s Champion for the fight against Alzheimer’s. I want to be one of the voices for those that may be too shy to come forward to say, “I have Alzheimer’s”. We need to find a cure now!