Dr. Norris Roberts and his mother

Dr. Norris Roberts and his mother

More than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, a leading cause of death in the United States.

More than 11 million family members and friends provide care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

In Missouri alone, there are more than 120,000 people living with the disease and 194,000 caregivers. 

The Alzheimer’s Association is hosting their annual Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s where St. Louisans are encouraged to join the fight to end Alzheimer’s on Oct. 29 at the Chesterfield Amphitheater.

On Walk day, participants honor those affected by Alzheimer’s with the poignant Promise Garden ceremony, a mission-focused experience that signifies our solidarity in the fight against the disease.

The colors of the Promise Garden flowers represent people’s connection to Alzheimer’s, their personal reasons to end the disease. Dollars raised help support local education classes, care consultations with social workers, support groups, and helps fund research for treatments, prevention, and ultimately a cure for this disease.

Dr. Norris Roberts was a caregiver for his mother who was living with dementia. He saw her signs years before her diagnosis, but his mother was good at hiding them.

He's also participating in the St. Louis Walk to End Alzheimer's, Oct. 29, in her honor. Roberts was selected among many to participate in the remembrance ceremony that takes place during the Walk. He will hold the purple flower in the memory of his mother and others who died from Alzheimer’s.

“I am holding this flower in remembrance of my mother, Daisy Roberts, and many others who suffered and died from Alzheimer's disease,” Roberts wrote in his remarks. “Holding this purple flower today symbolizes the hope, faith, and love I apply to raise money for a cure, promote awareness of Alzheimer's dementia and advocate for caregivers of Alzheimer’s recipients.”

The author has written several books about her dementia diagnosis and his caregiving journey. The first book published in 2012, while the second book was published in 2021.

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His mother passed away in March 2014 from Alzheimer’s and his father passed away three years after that time.

“Mama named the first one while dancing around the house on thanksgiving, ‘Mama is Still Here,’ so that’s why I named it that,” Roberts said.

The second book was named “Daddy is Still Here” because Roberts’ father was his mother’s first caregiver.

“He did the best he could,” he said. My father continued to buy her clothes because she lost 40-50 pounds.”

Roberts explained his mother dropped a lot of weight because she thought she was not hungry due to the degenerative disease.

“I tell people if they’re physically mobile, socialize them,” he said. “We took her out to eat and on a trip to Florida because she had her lucid moments.”

According to Roberts, it helped his mother stay social longer through socializing.

‘She became immobile about a year and half before she passed away,” he said. “We did a lot of things for her like feeding and dressing her.”

In his second book, Roberts framed the chapters around the six stages that caregivers go through.

“I was a caregiver for twelve years for my mother, my father and my father-in-law,” Roberts said.

According to the author, it’s the back story to the first book.

“I approached the book from a holistic standpoint from mind body and spirit,” he said.

“A lot of books I found and read had a clinical approach to talking about Alzheimer’s whereas my book includes scriptures and Christian songs.”

The book also includes flash backs to show happy memories to draw strength from the good times.

“I conclude every chapter with a scripture help because it is meant to help them and a prayer for researchers to find a cure for it,” Roberts said.

For more information on The Still Here book series, visit TheStillHereSeries.com.

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