Nancy, Stephanie and Zeke
Our First Photo Session of 2023
Doggies for Dementia Foundation is thrilled to introduce you to Nancy, Stephanie and Zeke. We enjoyed spending the day with Nancy W and her daughter. We can’t forget about Zeke, our furry four legged friend. We are delighted to honor this beautiful family, raise awareness for dementia by sharing their images and story. We invite you to hear from Stephanie, whose vibrant, outgoing mother’s life was changed by dementia. Her insightful view of dementia is bound to help so many who walk beside her on this often unpredictable dementia journey.
Before I tell you all about Nancy, I’ll remind you a little bit about Doggies for Dementia Foundation. We are delighted to create special photo experiences for families impacted by dementia. Thanks to generous donations, sponsorships and grant from Alzheimer’s Foundation of America we provide the photo sessions, prints, video-slideshows and more at no cost to families. We then share their stories and all they want the world to know about their loved ones on our platforms. We believe the world can be a more kind and compassionate place for those impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. We also support family caregivers in other ways, including our Resource page.
Our Mission Statement
Doggies for Dementia Foundation reduces stigma, isolation, and loneliness for those impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementia by providing beautiful experiences and photographs, a platform to share their stories with others, and education and awareness in order to better understand the diseases.
About Nancy-Written by her daughter Stephanie
Nancy Wharton was the first in her family to graduate from college. She has two brothers who affectionately say she was the pick of the litter. She went on to get her masters degree in school psychology and was a school counselor at Lackland Air Force Base during the Vietnam War.
Nancy was married for almost 52 years to Don, who passed away in June, 2022 after a long fight with prostrate cancer. She has one daughter, Stephanie, son-in-law Jarrett, granddaughter Avery and grandson Evan. Nancy’s passion was animals and flowers. She and Don owed a flower shop in Austin for 30 years and She absolutely loved every minute meeting people, hearing their stories and helping them feel joy through flowers and plants. She won many awards and was on many committees becoming very well known and respected in the Texas floral industry.
Don and Nancy retired in 2011. Nancy suffered a brain aneurysm during a floral lecture she was giving in 2002. Miraculously she survived, but after the trauma and brain surgery her memory was not the same. She continued to work and run her business but after a few years the deficits began to be too much.
Important Note: Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.
Dementia is an umbrella term for a variety of cognitive and communicative problems/deficits. Memory loss, executive functioning deficits, communication problems and behavioral issues are the hallmarks of a dementia diagnosis. This can be very challenging for the person and their family, who have already endured a brain injury.
The link between brain injury and dementia is clear. Dementia affects 50 million people worldwide, and studies show that people who sustain an injury to the brain are twice as likely to develop dementia post-injury.
More About Nancy
Don and Nancy tried to travel some but Don became nervous when Nancy would get lost in restaurants and ask to go see her parents in San Antonio ( who had passed). Nancy’s father passed from Alzheimer’s disease in 1998 so Alzheimer’s had not been a stranger to our family. With new medications, Nancy has been able to ward off some of the effects of the disease but with Covid and Don’s health decline she has declined rapidly in the past couple of years. Nancy loved her life and was known to always find the silver lining in life. She loved meeting and helping people.
Stephanie says, “If she could look back at her life I know she would be very proud. Being her daughter, I know God picked her to be my mom”.
What Do You Want the World to Know about Dementia
Dementia can be very isolating as friends/ family can’t deal with changes. Stephanie and I talked about the impact of the Covid pandemic on her family. Like many others, Stephanie noted a significant decline in her mother’s cognition and mood when she wasn’t able to get out and see people and places. Isolation is difficult for everyone, adn even worse for those impacted by dementia and their families. The worldwide pandemic did significant harm and we continue to experience for ongoing damage.
What Has Been the Most Challenging Part of Your Dementia Journey?
It’s been called the long goodbye. Sometimes I feel like I’ve already mourned her passing. Other times I feel like I’ve had to learn to love someone new.
What Has Been the Best Part of Your Dementia Journey
My mom is still sweet and I think she’s still happy. I get surprised sometimes When she will say my name or I get a glimpse of her former self. I know she’s still in there.
What Else Would You Like the World to Know
My dad kept her at home until the day he passed. He devoted his last days to caring for her. I had no idea what he was really dealing with all these years caring for someone with dementia.
Thank you to Nancy, Stephanie and Zeke. Stephanie, your love and desire to honor your mother in this special way with Doggies for Dementia Foundation. On a personal note, the time I (Carmen Davailus-President of Doggies for Dementia Foundation) and my husband spent with you was a delight. Big thanks to Kelli Hudson with Sundara Senior Living for your support. We are grateful for individual donors and The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.