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'We weren't prepared.' Caring for her mother with Alzheimer's: A local woman shares her story

The fight to find a cure for Alzheimer's has become a lifelong mission for one local woman
Green Bay woman shares the heartbreaking story of caring for her mother with Alzheimer's
Posted at 9:13 PM, Aug 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-30 07:42:07-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — The fight to find a cure for Alzheimer's has become a lifelong mission for one local woman who has spent nearly 15 years raising awareness.

Therese Berry-Tanner was an Alzheimer's caregiver until her mother, Helen died in 2008 and spent the following years raising awareness so other families can get the support she says she desperately needed while her mother was sick.

"Things got worse and worse and we weren't prepared."

Green Bay woman shares the heartbreaking story of caring for her mother with Alzheimer's
Green Bay woman shares the heartbreaking story of caring for her mother with Alzheimer's

Therese Barry-Tanner cared for her mother, Helen while she battled Alzheimer's disease.

"I got a phone call one September day. It was my father. I was at work and he said, I just can't do this anymore."

It was that critical moment Therese says when her mother needed to be placed in a nursing home. But, her options were limited making a stressful situation worse.

"It's one of the most difficult things in my life I've ever done," says Barry-Tanner.

The disease took its toll not just on Helen but on the whole family. After years of caring for his wife, Therese's father's health took a back seat.

"My sister said, 'Therese, have you noticed that cough of dad's?' You know maybe I heard it, maybe I didn't pay attention to it," she says.

"We got him to agree to see a doctor and he had end-stage cancer."

Therese's father, Jerry passed away 6 weeks later, just three months after placing his wife in a nursing home. Helen passed away 2 years later.

"This story I'm telling you about my family is replicated amongst many, where a primary caregiver as a spouse is not taking time to attend to their own health," says Barry-Tanner.

"That's why various organizations like the Alzheimer's organization, like the local Aging and Disability Resource Center, are such great places to get assistance," she says.

Therese says local organizations offer a wealth of resources to get guidance and to help with decision-making.

Since her mother's passing, Barry-Tanner has dedicated her life to raising awareness, making documentaries on Alzheimer's research, and making sure other families don't go through this alone.

"Change happens by people banding together, sharing their voices, to create a huge, loud voice and that's what we need,"

The Fox Cities Walk to End Alzheimer's will be held on October 1st. The event raises money for Alzheimer's research.

This year's event will be held at the Fox Cities Stadium at 2400 N. Casaloma Drive, Appleton. The event opens at 8:30 a.m., and the walk begins at 10:00 am. If you would like to sign up click HERE.