David Babcock, the Knitting Runner, Wants to Make a Trade: Your Alzheimer’s Story for a Scarf

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David Babcock, the Knitting Runner, Wants to Make a Trade: Your Alzheimer’s Story for a Scarf

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babcock_knitrun_sept10Featured in the New York Times and around the world, David Babcock is the Guinness World Record holder for knitting the longest scarf (12 feet!) while running a marathon, which he did in Kansas City last October. Coupled with a great deal of skill and endurance, David credits his choice in using Lion Brand’s Hometown USA as a factor in his amazing accomplishment! Lion Brand is sponsoring David in the New York City Marathon on November 2nd, 2014 and lucky for us, he’s agreed to write for us leading up to race day!

Greetings from the Knitting Runner. I have some knit-while-running scarves I want to give away, keep reading …

It’s hard to believe that the fall marathons are nearly here — it’s just starting to get cool enough that I’m thinking about knitting some new hats. I’ll be running the Kansas City Half Marathon on October 18th and the New York City Full Marathon on November 2nd. And yes, I’ll be knitting as I run! I’m deep into my training runs and testing my multi-tasking dexterity.

I’ve also joined the NYC Athletes To End Alzheimer’s team and am actively fundraising – please donate!

So, about those scarves I mentioned …

I want to hear your stories about Alzheimer’s and knitting. Are you a knitter or crocheter who has Alzheimer’s? Do you care for someone with Alzheimer’s and still find the time to knit or crochet? Please share your story in the comments below. If I have your stories in my head and heart as I run/knit, they will lend me more strength and purpose.

On October 30th, Lion Brand will randomly select five people who have shared stories to receive one of my scarves. At least once a week I knit a scarf while on the run and they’re stacking up!

I really want to get connected with my Alzheimer’s community. I know you’re out there and that, like me, knitting (or crocheting) is something you do while doing other hard things too. I am cheering for you!


David Babcock


Since its creation in 2009, the Alzheimer’s Association’s NYC Marathon teams have raised well over $2 million. The Chapter offers free support and education to the more than half a million New York City residents who either have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia or are caring for someone who does.

:: Support Alzheimer’s research — make a donation today! ::

Photo: David with a recently-made scarf, finger-knit with Hometown USA while running 10 miles in 80 minutes on September 10th!

Congratulations to the following: Susan S., Judy N., Lola E., Jean L., and Margaret B.! Thank you for sharing your stories!

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  • I am a crocheter. My grandmother had alzheimer’s when I was a kid. I remember one Christmas in the early 80s with my grandparents and they had gotten us gifts and grandma was so excited to see what it was, because she did not remember, that she layed on the floor next to me while I opened the gift. She was so excited to see that her and grandpa had gotten me legos.

    • Thank you, Antlisa. Legos should always be exciting. Those bright moments are great to remember.

  • I am a crocheter. My Grandfather was diagnosed with Alzihmers in 2000 he lost his battle with it July of 2013. As bad as he got he never lost the smile on his face and was always a kind man. The world lost someone very special the day he got lost in his own head. Shortly after he was diagnosed my great grandmother was diagnosed she did not live very long after diagnosis she was already weak from just winning a battle against breast cancer.
    Due to Alzihmers my kids never got to met their Grandfather while they were 10, 8, 7, and 6 when he died, he was gone before they were born. He was an educator he worked on a special program that allowed teenagers and adults who wanted to earn a high school diploma an opportunity to go to high school at night so they could work during the day or be with their children. He touched many lives and I believe his story still inspires people. I am proud to his grandchild and I pray I am just a fraction of the person he was.


    • Thank you, Kathy. What a great legacy. K-12 teachers will always be super heros.

  • I have been crocheting for about a year now. My experience with Alzheimer’s started about 14 years ago as my grandfather began his slow descent into the disease. His name was Lehman and he is one of the best people I’ve had the honor to know. The disease began slowly at first with him just being confused all the time. He slowly forgot the names of my family members and myself, often getting us confused with each other. At one time he thought I was his wife. He seemed to have no problem recalling events from decades ago but couldn’t remember what someone had just told him. He was a very devout Christian and deacon of his church. He also loved to play guitar and was the best player I’ve ever known. One thing that sticks with me is when he began to forget how to play guitar and messed up in a performance at church. It was suggested to him that he step down from his role in the music ministry, and this broke his heart. As the disease became worse, he grew very stubborn and violent when he didn’t understand what was going on around him. He was constantly paranoid that everyone was talking about him. My grandmother had to install locks to keep him inside the house. He finally became too uncontrollable for a 70-something year old woman to look after and we were forced to put him into a nursing home. He became a shell of his former self – he forgot how to speak and just sat and stared at the walls, or wandered around aimlessly. He passed away in June 2006 after falling and hitting his head at the nursing home. He was on blood thinners so he bled to death in his brain. While his death was devastating to me, I actually took some comfort in knowing that he is no longer suffering and is with Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Alzheimer’s is such a cruel, agonizing disease and I applaud you for your efforts in finding a cure. I wish a cure had come in time to save my sweet grandfather. As a side note, I also run and I’m training for my 6th half-marathon! I doubt I’ll ever do a marathon and I know I’ll never be able to knit or crochet while running, but I hope to see you at a race one day!

    • Thank you, Amber. Great to hear that you are running. Never say never to a bigger challenge. Thank goodness for belief in an end to suffering. Let’s put more of that balance on this side of death. That must be painful to see your own talents and loves leave you. It is good to get to know Lehman even just a little.

  • I am a knitter. I learned from my grandmother when I was a child but lost the art of many years before picking it back up around 10 years ago. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1998. My father took care of her at home for 9 years. My deepest pain was the first time that she forgot it was my birthday for we shared the same day. Her last 2 years were spent in a world that none of us can even imagine. One that brought her smiles, old lyrics to songs she used to sing, trying to remember names, and even those times of deep confusion, name calling, anger, and frustration. When she finally began to lose her ability to swallow, we knew it wouldn’t be long. I remember the night we received a phone call to come and make our final good-byes with her. As I entered the room I found a penny on the foot of her bed. Knowing that no one else could have been there before me I knew it was a penny from heaven. I knew she would go peacefully, quietly, and her spirit would be at peace as well. My mother always told me that found pennies were a gift from an angel above. This disease is so cruel. I remember finding a wonderful poem after she died. IT told about Alzheimer’s from the patient’s perspective. It said, “although you are sad, don’t be sad for me because I know in my heart I loved you”

    • Thank you Roberta. The memory of love is a powerful thing.

    • Thank you!!! I would be happy to let you share my story of Alzheimer’s Disease and it’s impact on my life for a knitted scarf!

  • For a small window of time, from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2007, I lived with my mom who had begun the descent into Alzheimer’s. Part of what kept me sane during these months was my work as a freelance crochet designer, many of the designs being done for Lion Brand, a train ride from the East End of LI to NYC. My spending a fair amount of time stitches in hand had a much needed calming effect on both my mom AND me, and I know she loved the idea that I was working for a company based in NYC, a place she’d always loved. When I see those projects still on the site, I am able to remember fondly that time which was so strenuous, but also so rewarding and remember my mom at a time when the disease was still in its beginnings, and therefore not as debilitating as it was further along.

    • Thank you Michele. I like how your crochet was a positive thing to focus on.

  • My grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was young. I couldn’t get the hang of it at the time, and often got frustrated. I put it down for years, but often admired yarn crafts. Her husband developed Alzheimers, and they moved into a home four hours away. He passed away soon after, and she was also diagnosed with Alzheimers.

    I picked up crocheting (and knitting!) again in college. It was a soothing thing to do, something to keep my hands busy. I moved back in with my parents after college and brought my now-large collection of yarn with me.

    My mother was recently diagnosed with mild dementia. She is 61. And I’m scared. I watched my grandfather decline and I can’t imagine losing my mom like that. I try not to think about it too often, choosing instead to focus on the good days. The days where we laugh and reminisce and listen to the Backstreet Boys and play with the dog.

    My mother used to knit and crochet as well. She made a blanket I used to wrap myself in as a child, and has another unfinished one in the closet. I love showing her my latest projects because she really appreciates the effort.

    Working with yarn still calms my anxiety. Life is so overwhelming right now, and I know it’s only going to get harder. Sometimes it’s nice to just zone out and focus on the stitches.

    We walked downtown earlier this evening and found some of the trees had been wrapped in yarn. Some were knit, some were crochet, all different colors and patterns. My mom and I both smiled as we examined them. Those are the moments I have to live for now.

    • Thank you Sajori. Good point that we need to take seriously our elder’s willingness to teach us while they still can. I like that you are focusing on those good-day memories. I hope that you crochet and knitting can continue to be a calming influence but with enough realistic frustration to keep your focus. That is such a nice gift that someone’s yarned trees provided a shared smile.

  • My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the same year I got married. He was 59 and I was 30. When I was a rookie knitter, I knit a sweater & hat for my dad, using Lion Brand Fisherman Wool, as it happens. My dad wore them both with such pride, even though the sweater was much too big, and the hat was slightly oversized. He told anyone nearby that I made the hat (which he wore almost every day in Fall and Winter).

    We learned from experience with my my dad that severe emotional experiences lasted in his memory much, much longer than everyday experiences. He remembered that someone special had made his hat for years into his disease. Even when he couldn’t remember that I had made it, he knew there was something about the hat that made him happy. He would ask my mom whether someone had made it, then realize it had been me as my mom reminded him. It always gave him so much pride to tell people I had made it for him.

    My dad died a year and a half ago. I have both the sweater and the hat in my cedar chest to remember that they made him so happy.

    Thank you for the work you are doing for people like my dad.

    • Thank you Judy. A hat made, and worn, with love always fits.

  • I have some patterns that a friend passed to me from her mother’s stash after her mother lost the ability to knit and crochet due to Alzheimer’s. My friend then learned how to do these activities and I gave back the patterns. Her husband is one of the co-authors of “Her Final Year,” talking about dealing with the stages of Alzheimer’s and the decisions you have to make along the way.

    • Thank you Margo. Doing what your loved one loved does seem like a good tribute.

  • I look after an elderly cousin with dementia an elderly mother, work full time and I knit to stay sane, it seems to work. My cousin was a skier until she was 79 so remains physically very well. She describes herself as blessed, she has us and a beautiful view from her flat window just no memory and there are folk much worse of that she is…. I am also blessed, Anna is easy to care for and I know many carers are not so fortunate. Alzheimer’s is a horrible condition it takes away so many of life’s dignities but there are small blessings .. Anna had a hospital admission she hated .. but she could remember nothing of it the day after we got her home.
    Keep knitting and running, one day we will beat the disease.

    • Thank you Susan. You are awesome for your service. Anna is blessed to have you.

  • Nana crocheted from childhood. She told me stories of crocheting sitting on the lap of the Rosenberg statue in the early 1900s, in front of the library in Galveston. She would go to the library with a friend who loved to read, and they would sit there for hours, one racing her crochet needle through thread, the other speeding through the pages of her book. She did not use patterns. She could crochet anything from a swatch. Nana would buy me skeins of Aunt Lydia’s rug yarn. After Pampa held the skein on his hands so I could wind it into a ball, I would sit in the big chair near the kitchen door and finger crochet yards of chain stitches while listening to Nana tell stories and sing hymns. We lost Nana’s stories and songs before her body succumbed to Alzheimer’s.
    Memory of her favorite crochet stitches went early on, frustrating her terribly. My love of knitting, crochet, and all fiber arts is part of her legacy. She died in 1987, but she is always with me when I crochet, or when I remember her stories.

    • Thank you Nelly. I love that you have kept some of your Nana’s fiber legacy, and stories.

  • My Nana taught me to crochet when I was 10. Just a few years later she was forced to give up her home and independence due to Alzheimer’s and move in with our family. I watched as my mother struggled to raise a family of teenaged kids while also providing for the increasing needs of my dear Nana. Now my mother has succumbed to the same disease. She is currently receiving hospice care and will soon die from this illness. These two women have been a mirror for me to look into. I fear that their final years will have been a foretelling of the fate that awaits me. It has become increasingly important to me to challenge myself at every opportunity. My Nana’s love of all things fiber is one legacy that I’m happy to have inherited. Using Nana’s needles and hooks I create complicated lace and beaded patterns. This is my way of challenging my brain and trying to stay sharp.

    I am so grateful to the men and women who are researching this disease. I am just as grateful to the people who help support it. Thank you David and Lion Brand for what you are doing.

    • Thank you Karen. Good luck with those challenging patterns, a sharp brain for your warm heart.

  • Hi. My mother was from Scotland and she became a “war bride” after she met my Dad. They married in England and she came to America. She taught me and my three sisters how to knit and crochet. I’m the only one who kept it up. Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when she was 68 and lived with the disease for twelve years. She was a lovely person, “cheerful Nancy”. My Dad cared for her at home until he just couldn’t. Miss my Mom and I finally got to visit her homeland just three weeks ago. Absolutely beautiful country. Thank you for what you are doing. Ann

    • Thank you Ann. Cheerful Nancy sounds like an awesome mom.

  • My mother has dementia and is in later stage. She doesn’t remember my name, but knows a caring voice is nearby. When I visit her, I always bring my knitting project. She loves to hold the ball of yarn as it unwinds. She even tries to wind it carefully when I have to “tink” a project. Somethimes it is difficult to get her to release it when I’m ready to leave. This is a special time for both of us and it has formed a connection and a way of communicating with her.

    • Thank you gjs. That sounds great that warm and tactile yarn can connect us. I like that she can help you by holding it.

  • I knit and crochet many things, including dog and cat toys for sale at craft bazaars to benefit the animal rescue group where I volunteer. My mother was an avid crocheter until Alzeimer’s progressed past her ability to do it. It was heartbreaking when she had to go into a nursing home as my stepfather was no longer able to care for her round-the-clock at home. She still would move her hands as if crocheting or picking up things. She didn’t really know who we were but responded to our attention with smiles. Alzeimer’s is heartless in its stealth of people’s essence. I applaud your fundraising efforts, and knitting while running seems like quite an adventure!

    • Thank you Gwen. I wonder if people will be really confused when they see old-me running and moving my hands. That is great that she kept a smile for you.

  • hello david, I am knitter since 2006. My mother was a knitter, she passed away in 2005. She had alzhiemers! She had tried to teach me the art of knitting serval times, but I never had the patience. As her dementia progressed i would find her with her hands furiously trying to unravel/un-knot what was once a ball of yarn. My mother was a women of great intelligence, craft and had a great sense of humor. She loved hard and unconditionally. She joined the navy in 1944 so she could become a nurse. She later went back to night school and became a psychiatric nurse. She unionize’d the nurses in Pittsburgh, in the late 60s. She was quite the women. I taught myself how to knit shotly after her passing, i felt I needed to, to stay connected to her and finally learn the skill. I do become unraveled (pardon the pun) emotionally however on the ocassion when my yarn becomes a knotted mess. So much so that i have to turn it over to my husband to restore it back to its wholeness of the yarn ball. My mothers where so greatly knotted, she would hand them to me and ask me to help, but there was no hope on ever doing so! This is alzhiemers to me, what was once a beautiful skein of yarn, slowly becomes tangled, then knotted, and so drastically changed from its orignal self, and there no hands on this side of heaven that can restore it.

    • Thank you Bonnie. I love your tangled yarn metaphor. It is good to have people to share our tangles with.

  • I am a knitter and a nurse in a dementia care unit. I often bring my knitting to work and stitch during quiet times during the shift. The residents seemed to be soothed by watching me knit and some will look at my work and ask questions and talk about their hobbies. It also soothes me and helps me to be a better caregiver.

    • Thank you Laura. Your knitting sounds like a great friendly focus.

  • My story is indirectly related to Alzheimer (my father died of Alzheimer, and I don’t want to delve in that horrific situation).
    Last winter was a record; it was Siberian. Then I thought about all the homeless people, some of them with alzheimer, and started knitting scarves, gloves and caps; they were simple but beautiful, not the “orphanage” accessories.
    Then I left them in parks, and statues in the city, with a label: I MADE THIS FOR YOU WITH LOVE. TAKE IT; IT’S YOURS!

    • Thank you Blanca. It sounds like your personal experience has moved you to some wonderful service and beauty in the giving not just the product.

      • My personal experience is terrible. My father was a scholar and an intellectual, a Psychiatrist, M.D, and a Neuropsychiatrist, PhD, and he became a living carcass, with no intellect, no emotions…

  • It took my grandma 5 days to die from Alzheimer – related pneumonia. As l sat by her bedside, watching her suffer, I was glad I had my knitting. It was a comforting thing I could do while not taking my attention away from her.

    • Thank you Adrienne. It hurts to think of people who have gone through the same experience without even small comforts like yours. I am glad that knitting was there for you.

  • I’m a knitter and my husband passed away 4 yrs ago this Nov.15th. The journey was rough but we all were supported with God’s strength. Denver just had their WALK for ALZ. I live in a retirement facility and have opportunities to listen and encourage other widows. I was so hurt when I left Al to go home and see how involved he was with Holly. He didn’t think we were married. I prayed about it and realized that we all need to be loved & cared for. Holly was there for Al as they held hands & giggled. I gave her permission to love Al and i felt at peace. A lady here also had a husband who had a girlfriend and when i told her about Al, I could see that she, too, was released from the burden! We hug every week when I take her BP! Lord bless your run, David!

    • Thank you Betty. Your love is huge.

  • Hello There! I am a knitter and crocheter. I am encouraged by your idea of using the index fingers for knitting! I think I could teach my grandchildren to knit using fingers first! My husband has mild cognitive impairment. We don’t know if he has Alzheimer’s yet. And we are moving closer to our daughters and their families, so right now my needles and stash are packed away. However once we move and I get my stash unpacked, I plan to get back to knitting and crocheting. I wish you MUCH success in running the KC Half-Marathon and the NYC Marathon!

    • Thank you Suzanne. Yes, share knitting now and often with those youngsters. That is great that you can be close to supportive family.

      • Yes we are looking forward to being near our grandchildren! We will be in an apartment building. I plan to see if there are other knitters and crocheters there. Maybe we can start a group.

  • hi there- my friend works for alzheimers association in new york city. and i knit. so keep going and keep knitting. go david.

    • Thank you sushiskynyc. I love sushi. ALZ NYC is a great team and I am so excited for the energy and support that all of NYC gives their marathon.

  • David, I wish you well in your upcoming marathons. Though I do not do marathons (I’m 75) I do walk 5Ks. I walk and knit as I walk 5Ks for my grandson who is austic. There are similarities between alzheimers and autism. The victims of these afflictions frequently relate with each other
    and become friends. The age span is not relevant in their friendship.

    • Thank you Ann. Walking and knitting is awesome, and not easy. That is wonderful that you have been able to connect the Autism walks.

  • I was a young teen & didn’t knit (at least not obsessively) back when my grandmother was suffering from Alzheimer’s but I remember my mom, Granny’s caretaker, knitting multiple dish clothes on a daily basis for several years. Luckily by the time Alzheimer’s hit my mom, I was an obsessive knitter & was able to knit to stay sane while caring for her. I even remember 1 particular trip to the ER. Mom was struggling to breathe & in the panic of getting to the hospital, I’d forgotten my knitting. I’m surprised the staff didn’t send me to the psych ward because I went in the bathroom, stole a roll of toilet paper & proceeded to knit with toilet paper & a couple of pens I had in my purse while the doctors worked on my mom. Knitting while caring for my husband’s granny was always interesting & the memory brings a smile to my face. That granny liked to fold clothes & whenever she’d become agitated, you could give her a laundry basket full of towels & she’d spend hours calming herself & folding them over & over again. The funny knitting part of that story is… I was working on a scarf at one point & she would sit beside me on the sofa & try to fold the part I had already knit. I’m not sure which of us was happiest when the scarf was complete. Me, for not having to try to knit while she tugged on the other end, or her because she finally had the freedom to fold the entire scarf. Today, I pray that when Alzheimer’s hits me, I’ll retain the ability to knit even when I don’t know my own name. I also pray that my kids will remember to stick a ball of yarn & some needles in my hands.

    • Thank you Jeannie. If the legacy goes well those kids will remember to follow your example of love and service too. You are so funny with the toilet paper. That is such a nice image of knitter’s helper/un-helper.

  • I have had too much personal experience with Alzheimer’s. My mother’s father had it and my father’s mother also had it. These were the only grandparents I knew, and to lose them both to this horrible disease is very hard.

    Now, my dad has it. He lives at home, with my stepmother, over 6 hours away, so I don’t get to see him often, and each time it hits me like a baseball bat to the chest. He still knows me, for that I am extremely grateful. Last time I visited, i just sat with him and knit for awhile. He noticed and remarked it was nice, that his mother used to crochet (I knew that). He said it was pretty. I almost broke into tears at that point, happy ones. He was present and alert, if only for a short time.

    We are planning on visiting in the first part of November. Lately, he only gets up to eat, then goes back to bed. I hope that our being there will bring some of that spark back, and I can have fun with my dad again, if only for a day.

    Bless you making other more aware.

    • Thank you Karen. I agree, too much. That is such a great gift that your knitting brought out a spark of connection.

  • I am a crocheter and a knitter. My mother had alzheimers. By the time she was 70 it was obvious that something was a miss. She was living with my youngest sister and it became very difficult to watch the stages my mother went though. We talked to her doctor but we couldn’t get the point across that something was wrong. It wasn’t until an altercation between Mom and my sister, that finally someone listened. In the end we were able to get her into a home especially for alzheimers patients. She became the queen Mom around the home. Her beautiful nature came through. The disease is so hard to deal with, but there would be many times of laughter. We never knew from visit to visit, just what mom had been up to. She was always travelling and visiting someone, in her mind. Some of her adventures were quite funny. Their was a gentleman in the room across the hall. He became her bother but she couldn’t understand why he wasn’t using his real name of Elliot. We never corrected her or asked her to remember. That was something she couldn’t do.
    I guess I’m the lucky one because Mom remembered who I was the longest. Mom and I always had a spiritual connection and I often wonder if that was the reason.
    I’m rambling a bit but the point I want to make is get help when you are the caregiver and look for the laughter because there is lots of it if you get past the disease and accept it for what it is. Mom was my teacher for crochet and knitting.but I lost that wonder person at the age of 92.

    • Thank you Callie. I am glad that you were able to find some smiles in there. Every teacher hopes that something they taught survives them.

  • I am a knitter now since 2001 when I taught myself as something to do when my dad had a quadrupole bypass surgery. In 2006 is when I knew for sure my mom had Alzheimer’s. She was the sweetest most patient woman I have ever known who always had a smile on her face. I made her a prayer shawl in Homespun for her and she loved it, it was always with her and she loved just to touch it all the time. But in 2006 the anger started and progressively got worse as her disease did. She started truly believing that my dad and me were having an affair. I can not even imagine how hard that was on her to truly believe the two people who you are closest to to betray you like that. She was so mean to us and it was so hard on my dad when my mom handed him her wedding ring, it broke his heart. It was bittersweet as the disease progressed for the anger went away but you knew it was just because she had gotten worse. I became her sister for the last year even though she never had one. She didn’t know my kids but she was happy when they were there. We lost her a year ago on Oct 6th. This disease is truly a nightmare for you watch your love one disappear right in front of you and become someone else. I pray they will find a cure so no other families need to go through this aweful journey.

    • Thank you Beth. Thank goodness for compassionate bedside knitters. You have a strong heart. I hope that today’s anniversary date is full of love and remembered love.

  • This is a family story. No one in my mother’s family have lived past their early 70’s (heart disease) except her younger brother, my Uncle Bubba. He is in his early 80’s and was diagnosed with alzheimers a couple of years ago. At least we know what might be in our future. My aunt takes care of him with help from her daughter. The saddest thing I heard was the day Sylvia was with him , his daughter, and he proceded to tell her about his multi talented daughter Sylvia. He told her how proud he was of her, raising two sons, directing the community theater, heading the drama and band departments at a private school and running a multi faceted music, drama school. I cried, she cried. I think she realizes her daddie is gone but at least he still has his memories. I knit and crochet thanks to my memama and mother.

    • Thank you GoRed4Women. Sounds like you are involved in charities of your own. What a great moment to hear that proud parent.

      • Check out WomenHeart’s Heart Scarf project. Thank you for what you do for Alzheimers.

  • I am a knitter, and I knit partly to remain connected to the women in my family who came before and have since passed on. My maternal grandmother knitted all the time – one of those wonderful “knit in the dark” knitters – she taught me when I was very young. My mother raised sheep and sent me yarn to work with when I was pregnant with my first child. My mother-in-law sewed all her own clothes, knitted and crocheted continuously and with real talent. She succumbed to Alzheimer’s a few years back and one of the saddest things about it was her inability to keep knitting. I now knit with my grandmother’s needles, my mother’s yarn, and keep everything in a bag my mother-in-law sewed for me years ago.

    • Thank you Nina. I have some of my Grandma’s crochet hooks too. I have one tiny steel one that I use all the time. Keep that legacy going.

  • Hi, My Dad passed away 2 years ago from complications due to Alzheimers, He worked all his life and when he was 52 he and his friend Mike went into partnership as Mechanics and made a company employing my Sister, Brother and Nephew in a small garage which I live next door to. they worked hard together as a team and slowly at the age of 79 and still working he noticed that something was not quite right,
    My Mom had started to notice Dad was doing odd things and taking ages to do simple tasks,, then slowly the Alzheimers took over and became so bad he did not know where he lived, how to dress and on odd times he would get dressed in the middle of the night to go to work. Dad had to go into hospital from a simple injury from his head which was bleeding – when the doctor arrived and sat next to him, my Dad asked the Doctor when he would be arriving to see him. From this point forward in March 2012 he rapidly went down hill – often we would see him asleep and his hand would be moving as if he was using a spanner to tighten a nut on a car. His favourite thing to eat was IceCream and we would see him imaginary holding a cone and licking the icecream.
    He passed away on 7th May 2012 at 81 we are greatfull he never forgot who we were and always loved us. We are also thankful that he achieved everthing he wanted to do in his life. 81 is a good life and we are truely thankful he did not have this horrid Alzheimers at a younger age. My Mother 85 was totally unable to cope with his need for constant care and at the time had no nursing or govement help, except from their direct family and from Mike who help my Dad remember the good times in their Garage.
    So much more care could have been given to my Dad if the Hospital could only have understood the care and help needed to give to an Alzheimers patient, but sadly at the time they were still learning and sill are.
    I hope one day No one suffers from Alzheimers – especially the ones left behind who still wonder why this has happened to someone they love.
    To cope with my Dad, my Mom, Sister and I would Knit and Crochet at the odd quite time to bring back a sence of normallity. To make us feel as we still have something to hold onto which was in the “real World” and not in the strange uncontrolable world we felt we were being drawn into with Dad. Believe me these garments have been kept as reminders of some
    good times and some very bad times.

    • Dear David
      Is it ironic that you have the same name as my dad? I was taught to knit by my grandmother but fully supported by my dad. He would buy yarn and needles and patterns for any project I needed. My first project was a scarf I gave to my dad. He wore it so proudly. Hats, scarves and socks soon followed….all proudly worn and displayed by my dad. My dad’s diagnosis came 8 years ago. It confirmed what my mom had been suspecting for two years prior–my dad’s forgetfulness and frustration was more than just “getting old.” By then I had moved 400 miles away and had a busy young family. We visited as often as we could and for a while my dad seemed to hold it together while we were there. When his balance became an issue and he was “forced” to use a cane I knit him several cane cozies that he could change with the seasons and holidays. He loved telling everyone at his doctor’s visits about those cozies. When my dad’s care became too much for my mom he moved into the Alzheimer’s unit at the VA hospital. I visited about every six weeks and brought my kids when I could. I also brought hats, scarves and mittens that I had knit for my dad and the other residents. They often went on outings and walks around the grounds and during the cold weather the extra warmth was appreciated.
      When you think of Alzheimer’s you often think of someone just forgetting. I think that is misleading because it gives you hope that maybe if you talk to them long enough or show them enough pictures that they will remember. I prefer to say that my dad lost me. He lost all that I was and all that we had had together. I just never even existed. As far as he knew he never had a second child. He also lost the ability to walk, feed himself and talk. While I continued to visit my dad and take him hand made items it was as if I was visiting a stranger…introducing myself each time and telling him how nice it was to spend time with him. In the odd way that Alzheimer’s works he seemed to remember my boys….or at least they reminded him of someone he knew. His face would always light up and he always became more animated when they visited with me.
      I received the phone call you always know is coming last summer. My dad was 400 miles away and fading fast. I grabbed what clothes I could fit into my backpack, threw in five balls of yarn and some needles and prayed Southwest could fly faster than death. I managed to get to my dad’s bedside within hours of that call. As I settled into a most uncomfortable chair in a most uncomfortable room I pulled out my needles and began to knit. My dad held on for five days before he finally decided he was through with his time here and needed to move on. Each of those five days found me sitting and knitting, hour after hour day after day. My mother and sisters were somewhat stumped at my knitting in such a situation but I can’t imagine facing such a situation without knitting. Stitch after stitch let me know I was going to go forward. It calmed me and put me in a place I know my dad would have wanted me to be in. When I flew home at the end of the week I no longer had my father but I had six hats which were donated to a homeless shelter in hopes they could better someone’s life.
      As I write this to you, David, I can’t seem to stop the tears from falling. The loss, pain and destruction that is Alzheimer’s continues to hurt me. I pray that you have a safe run and cannot thank you enough for doing this. The story of Alzheimer’s needs to be heard, needs to be known to all and needs more souls like you who are willing to help in any way they can.

      • Thank you Heather. I still got teary on the second reading. You describe some of the pain and hard things so well. Yes, people do get lost. Remembering seems to be our job. I am glad that knitting was there for you. I love how these posts are helping these stories to be heard.

    • Thank you Linda. Such happiness with a never-melting ice cream cone. The increasing awareness for Alzheimer’s care and early programs are a great help.

  • I crochet and knit. My mom died of Alzheimer’s in 2003. It was a long and horrible time for our family. I remember all the wonderful projects my mother made throughout the years and have some beautiful peices saved for our children and grandchildren.

    • Thank you Michelle. Wonderful that you have some of her work to pass on.

  • Hi David,
    I want to share a story with you about an amazing woman named Rose, who today suffers from Alzheimer’s.
    Rose is a Holocaust survivor and as a teenager was incarcerated in a German work camp where she and many other girls sewed uniforms for the German soldiers. She would smuggle out little bits of yarn and knit warm socks and gloves for her friends in the camp to help them survive the freezing winters. Today she is over 90 and lives in Jerusalem. My daughter used to visit her and get her ti knit, but she would say she doesn’t remember. But when she picked up the needles and yarn, her fingers remembered. She enjoyed making booties for the great-grandchildren.
    Wishing you success in your run, your knitting and finding a cure!

    • Thank you Susie. Rose is a hero.

  • I don’t have an a alzheimer’s story but I am still hoping that this will give you inspiration also. In November 1989 I quit smoking….I would not have been successful if I had not started knitting !! I was in a desperate situation with nothing to do with my hands any more….I paced the floor, got frantic and slept 12 to 14 hours at a time……then I got the idea to try knitting…..I took it every where with me….I was never with out my yarn and needles…..today I try to help others to do the same ….no matter what habit they are trying to quit/ or perhaps a loss someone has had …a young lady who was losing her mother to cancer learned knitting from me and managed to handle it all much better…. knitting is like a meditation it has helped many.
    Keep up the good work for alzheimer’s David I have lost some nice friends with it.
    Kitchener Ontario

    • Thank you Junie. I am glad that knitting has helped you, and even better that you are helping other people too.

  • I wish we didn’t have so many devastating health problems in the world today, but am happy to know that people like you are out there to help folks dealing with issues. I don’t have a story to share, but I’m sending you lots of energy so you can complete your goal.

    • Thank you M. Your positive energy helps.

  • Hi David,

    My mother, now 77, introduced me to the love of textiles and crafting in general when I was 9 years old. As I grew up, there were always new things to learn from her. She was self taught in a variety of crafts, her most beautiful being smocking and quilting. Mama always had several projects ongoing and never left the house without her “to do” bag; it always had little projects she was working on and teaching herself. The greatestblesson I ever got from my mother is never be afraid to tackle anything. See your project through to the end and if you still don’t like it, at least you tried.

    Mama was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers at 59, just one year older than I am now. She wanted to cram as much living and crossing things off her to do list before it would reach a point where she could no longer do such things. We were talking one day and she mentioned wanting to learn how to knit or crochet. At that time, I was only a self taught knitter. We started a scarf, but even the simplest of things created great frustration for her. When I would visit my parents, I always traveled with my own to do bag. Mama and I would sit and talk for hours while she watched me knit.

    Three years ago to help me quit smoking, I found my craft passion…crochet. I take it everywhere. My mother, no longer remembering my name most days, cannot carry on a traditional conversation. However, her eyes light up when I bring out the hooks and yarn. She will sit for hours and watch me work. The conversation may not be along logical lines of thought but she remembers me in that moment. For that moment in time, it is as if she never had Alzheimers.

    Thank you so very much for your support of Alzheimers research and allowing me to share my mom with you:-)


    • Thank you Sociologist. I love your mother’s ‘never be afraid – see it through’ attitude. It is a ray of hope that people don’t easily lose interest in good craft. Awesome that you were able to use crochet for yourself and for your mother.

  • I am a senior citizen and I just started a crochet class at my center. I started because of my love and passion for crocheting. The ladies would see me crocheting and they would tell me their stories of how either their mother or grandma use to crochet or knit them things. They had kept what ever they made because it met so much became it came from the heart. We spend a lot of time just sitting so I started taking my crocheting. I was very ill last year and could not see for almost two years. So I could not do my crafting it Feels great to be back and teaching the ladies is a way of sharing the love. Since the ages vary from fifty years to ninety two we have some that their minds are still very sharp and others who can barely remember what they had for lunch but I love them all and so no matter what level they are at I try to teach them something if only to make a chain stitch. Each consider themselves part of my chain gang. We all have such a good time laughing and learning they from me and me from them. So alzheimer’s do not exist in my world only love.

    • Thank you Annie. I love how crochet in public can bring out stories and connections. It is definitely a way of sharing love.

  • Thanks David for running for Alzheimers! My Mom passed away in July 2009 from an 8 year battle with Alzheimers. I was lucky to be with her on her last day. From the time I can remember my Mom had been the smartest, most literate loving and creative person. As a young child she was always teaching me new crafts with included needlework such as cross stitch, embroidery, crewel, basic kniting and crochet. It is because of her that I still crochet today to relieve stress. I have fond memories of Mom in those times we spent together. Alzheimers is the most difficult condition as it takes everything a person knows and slowly disolves it into nothingness. I watched my Mom lose her coordination, her love of knitting, her love of reading all disappear and the frustration grew in her as the disease progressed. Each year I plant a “memory garden” in my small plot in her memory for all the love and fond memories we shared over the years. Her battle was long and hard and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. My Mom was a true inspiration in her courage and determination to do what she could as LONG as she could. Towards the end of her struggle her love of music was the one thing that would calm her down. I miss her dearly but know that she is no longer suffering and bring her creativity with me in the crochet items I design and make. 🙂

    • Thank you DM. It is good to see that some of what your mother lost in creativity continues on in your craft.

  • A dear friend has been battling Alzheimer’s for over four years now. Before then, she would teach or assist anyone who came to her wanting to crochet or knit. She introduced many of us to the afghan stitch and showed us the many items she had made over the years (at least the ones she did not give away). Now she cannot remember how to do any of these but knows that she once could do all. I spend six or seven days a week with her teaching her how to knit, crochet, etc. She cannot hold that knowledge for an entire day, so I am sometimes showing her how to, for instance, do a double crochet five or six times an hour. It is heartbreaking to witness this. God bless you for raising awareness of Alzheimer’s. Perhaps a cure will be found soon. Too late for my friend but not for others.

    • Thank you Marie. Teaching over and over again sounds like a great labor of love and wonderful way to connect with her.

  • I lost my mother to Alzheimers this year on August 4th,my mother was taught to knit when she was only five. She was an absolutely brilliant knitter and once she had a pattern down she no longer needed to follow the directions. We should have known when she was working on what she called her last afghan that something was wrong. She kept making mistakes,until it was a catastrophic mess. My eldest sister is trying to fix it,as it is for our youngest niece. It was supposed to be for her tenth birthday,but she will be eleven in November,so that tells you how bad the catastrophe was. My mother taught us all to knit when we reached the age of eight,I never could purl,still can’t but I took to crochet just fine. So while mom knitted,I would crochet so when we told her it was time to put her needles to rest,she gave me what little stash she had left. I have one thing left that my mother knit for me,it is a grey sweater,every time I wear it I think of her and it makes me happy and sad at the same time,I did have my afghan that she made me for my 21st birthday but it was lost in our move to Michigan last year. I miss my mom every single day,but I know that she is now free and happy and doing at least two of the things she loved to do,garden and knit.

    • Thank you Katy. Yes, happy and sad objects, but totally love. It is good to have symbolic objects that you can still hold onto.

  • Dear David,

    I am a knitter and dabble in crocheting. I actually attend your college and think that what you are doing is just so amazingly awesome. My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when I was a freshman in high school (I’m currently a Junior) and it has been a devastating disease to watch take hold of him. The worst part is seeing glimpses of him, but knowing that it’s only a trick of your own mind being hopeful that he is still in there.
    My grandpa is not really vocal anymore, but the other day I was helping my grandmother babysit him (he is still currently at home with her) and he uttered the words, “This must be my hell.” And those words just broke my heart because he said them with a defeated exasperated breath. He used to be the life of the party and would play with us and place fake dog poo on the carpet to freak my grandmother out and to see the shell of a person he has become is just so devastating.
    The thing that scares me most about this disease is the genetic aspect of it, will my mom have it, my aunts, my siblings, or me? It isn’t so much of getting the disease myself, but having to experience that heart break of watching more loved ones slip away.
    Thank you so much for running for the disease and keep up the amazing things you do.


    • Thank you Amanda. A lot of my students here noticed your Facebook share. Yeah! for the power of social students to get the word out. I try to run in the Rec Center at least once a week so people can spot me knitting on the treadmill. Lately it has been Mondays 9:30 – 11:30. I am hoping that people will feel free to shoot me and tag me on social media.
      I am glad that you have some fun memories with your grandfather.

  • I love to crochet. My Mother has Alzheimer’s Disease. We had to put her in a nursing home Alzheimer center. It got so hard trying to care for her and our elderly father at home. MOM is a beautiful woman that we love very much. We take dad to see her several times a week. It’s so sad. She sometimes knows us. She can no Longer walk and she jabbers alot. The staff at the home calls dad her Hunk. She called him that once. Lol. They have been married 60years and it is so sweet to see them sit together and hold hands. Mom has five daughters and I’m proud to be one of these daughters. There a seven grandchildren and many many great grandchildren as well. Mom has always been the light of our lives and we all love her so very much. It is just so sad that this disease is taking her from us. Donna Vawters is her name please remember her in your prayers. With Love Always Mom —- Your Daughter Kathy Baker

    • My maternal grandmother was a needleworker, crocheting, tatting, quilting, sewing. She had Alzheimer’s and slowly lost her ability with hook, shuttle and needle. I already had a love of knitting as her skills slipped away, so I made it my mission to pick up where she left off. Now that she is gone, I’m the only one in the family who has these skills.

      • Thank you Denise. Don’t let everyone else in the family off the hook too easily. Men need skills too.

    • Thank you Kathy. Will do on prayer for Donna Vawters. You deserve all the support that you ask for.

  • My Dad has
    Alzheimer’s disease. We have had to put him in a home this week, because he has stopped sleeping and become aggressive, and my Mum can’t care for him anymore. Our hearts are all breaking. Mum and I are both knitters and I crochet too (more crochet lately, cause it’s easier for travelling). I think it gives us something to focus on other than Dad, we can sit and knit while we
    visit Dad and it as soothing to Dad as to us. We can no longer give him knits because the home can’t care for woolens, but we can gift each other and the rest of our family.

    Dad was a gregarious, outgoing man, with many friends, a quick wit and love of a good argument. Two years ago at 64 he was diagnosed when he stopped talking. Now he doesn’t eat, doesn’t shower or toilet and wanders up and down, day and night. He won’t get into a bed, instead has cat naps in a chair. It is the cruelest disease, it has robbed his grandchildren of piggyback rides and terrible jokes, his daughters of support and love and his wife of a shared retirement of adventure. I miss my dad, so I’m going to crochet a beautiful mandala for a friends 40th and focus on the
    memories that he can no longer remember.

    • Thank you Jo. I hope that the other stories shared on this blog can help with the recent difficult transition. It does sound like having a knitting focus while visiting can be positive.

  • My friend Lucy has Alzheimer’s, and we are both knitters. She can’t read a pattern any longer, and only knits prayer shawls from what she remembers, which is garter and stockinette stripes. I had been working on a pair of socks on dpns, which one of my nieces had pulled out. I tried to get all the stitches picked up, but assumed I would be starting over. Lucy took the sock from me, and began tinking, and asked if I trusted her. I said yes, and watched her work. She got it all back on the needles, even in the cable pattern, correctly. Somewhere, buried in her diseased mind, was the skill needed to fix my knitting. She was so happy to help at the moment, but she no longer remembers doing it. But I will always remember..

    • Thank you Susan. What a convenient miracle that she was able to pick up your stitches.

  • I am a knitter, as is my mother who taught me. A couple of years ago my brothers and I noticed that she was obviously more forgetful than usual, and we took her for an senior evaluation.Perhaps because her personal doctor was there, she didn’t realize that is was assessment process we had taken my dad to a few years earlier. She was identified with dementia and we followed with that office for about a year after that. The doctor and the office would make suggestions, but was less than direct with us. A near miss car accident led to Mom losing her driver’s license after the doctor wrote on the state form that she should not be driving due to dementia, Alzheimer’s type. And this was how we found out she had Alzheimer’s. When I confronted the doctor about this, the doctor told me that she didn’t like to use “those” words. WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH THESE PEOPLE WHEN A DOCTOR WHO PRIMARILY SEES SENIORS WON’T USE THE WORD “ALZHEIMER’S” WITH A FAMILY???

    • Thank you Becky. Awareness is important. When we can all say the words and talk about it more will get done. More help for family caregivers!

  • Like so many below my Mom died of Alzheimers (in 2009) after 10 years of decline. She’d been a knitter as a young woman and a crocheter as an older adult, but she stopped, perhaps because of early memory loss she wasn’t even yet aware of. She was also my Girl Scout Leader when I was 8 and she taught me and the whole troop to knit. I’ve knit since then and it has been what I’ve turned to when I needed stability and creative enjoyment in my life. As I’ve gotten older I’ve begun knitting even more and in retirement now, it is has become a large component of my life and I’ve recently begun to spin so I can knit with my homespun. During the last weeks of Mom’s life, when it was clear she was not eating, pocketing food she was given, and swallowing was getting more difficult, I started a vest for myself and I’d knit on it each day at her bedside. She was sleeping much of the time, and she had not been speaking for years, so it gave me something to do in order to just be with her patiently and quietly each day. I finished it while I was with her during the last days. Now when I wear it, it is my comforting reminder of her and all she gave me during her life.

    Best wishes for your runs and this wonderful way to highlight knitting and Alzheimer’s research.

    • Thank you Janice. I am glad that you were able to find some stability and creativity during those difficult years. This is for awareness of what caregivers go through as well as research.

  • Tears in my eyes this morning. Yesterday we met with the doctors and have to put my beautiful Mother-in-law into Hospice. Up until this time, she has been cared for at home by my father-in-law, my husband, my two sons, and myself. She fell out of bed, and required hospitalization where they also found a mass on her esophagus. Up until three weeks ago, she was talking, eating, walking. No longer. The ravages of this terrible disease have stolen her from us! My creative Mother-in-law was a crocheter, and quilter. I treasure the things she has made for us. I am now beginning a prayer shawl for her, to comfort her on her final journey! I sit by her bedside, knitting and praying for peace in her heart, and ours. Thank you for the awareness you bring to this horrible disease.

    • Thank you Debbie. I hope that you can find comfort in the prayer shawl as well. I hope that you have had a chance to read the many stories here and see that you aren’t alone in this experience.

  • My mother-in-law was a knitter, always working on sweaters for her grandchildren, which they treasure to this day. One day, I asked her if she would make me a sweater. I found a pattern and bought some yarn for her to use. But because her Alzheimer’s disease had already started, she couldn’t remember how any more. I was too late. It was sad, and hard to watch her decline, but we found other ways to keep her occupied. After she passed, when going through her things, I found a sweater she had made for herself. I knew she would want me to keep it for her, and I treasure it because her loving hands made it. She was a very special lady.

    • Thank you Debbie. Those sweaters sound like a wonderful gift.

  • My husband and I took care of his mother for 7 years. She died of Alzheimer’s disease. She was always very pleasant, but there were always some funny stories that kept us laughing. When she would sit down across from us to eat her dinner, she would eat half of it, and then ask for more. All I would do was turn her dinner plate around, and then she would say “Thank you”, and eat the other half. The funniest story was when I had laid out her washrag to wash her face, her comb to make her hair nice, and her toothbrush with paste to brush her teeth. I heard a funny noise and went into the bathroom. There she was, brushing her teeth with her comb. It was always good to find something to laugh about. She lived with us in our home for 7 years.

    • Thank you Alberta. Those are good smiles for remembering.

  • I am in charge of two craft groups and one of the ladies has Alzheimer’s. She is so creative with her crochet items. The colors are so vibrant.
    I crochet and knit all year for charity. I started knitting when i was 14 using 4 needles i made a pair of green socks. The best experience i had.
    Good luck in the marathon.

    • Thank you Margaret. Great to hear that you are using your knitting for charity.

  • My mother is 79 and has had several mini strokes. She also has neuropathy in both legs and has fallen several times hitting her head. She has trouble remembering things and may be at the early stages of dementia or it could be caused by the above mentioned problems. A far as Alzheimer’s, my husbands aunt died from it and our brother-in-laws mother also died from it. It’s a hard thing to witness as a relative as well as a close family friend.

    • Thank you Gail. Good luck with your mother’s continued care needs. You are a survivor!

  • My maternal grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s while I was a teenager, and died in 1990. He would sit with his wife, my grandma, while she crocheted. Year later, his daughter – my mom, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. She passed in 1999 at the age of 58. It was devastating to lose her as I started my adult life. Today I crochet in memory of my family! When I do commission projects, I work under Carolina Belle – Carolina for NC, where my mom grew up, and Belle for my grandma’s and mom’s middle name.

    • Thank you Karen. Great to see that you are active with Alz.org. That is an awesome cute dog. When I am not running-while-knitting amigurumi is my primary yarn art. You can see some of my stuff on my blog http://donotstaple.blogspot.com

      • Teeny tiny ami art! 🙂 I”ll be hooking before and after the ALZ walk tomorrow, but not during – you are multi talented!!!

  • I am a knitter. Alzheimer’s is prevalent in my father’s family, especially among the women. His father’s mother and a sister were victims, while another sister continues to struggle against the disease. I use simple knitting, meditation, and yoga to reduce my stress level, as high stress is a risk factor. I also engage in more challenging projects that require me to focus and learn new techniques in an effort to keep my mind sharp. My sister and I attend knitting events together. Our shared hobby keeps us close, and while we hope we evade the family curse altogether, at the very least, perhaps it will hold the beast at bay.

    • I suffered a mlnl stroke last Aug., do to a lot of stress on my job. But i never knew that stress had anything to do with Alzheimer’s this is good to know. I now suffer with a lot of memory loss which really scars me. My husband jokes around alot with me saying that i must have Alzheimer’s & i tell him that is nothing to joke about. I some times think that i am on the verge of getting Alzheimer’s & it scares me very much.

      • Have courage Frances! Love and remember your good days.

    • Thank you Sylvia. It is especially cruel when Alzheimer’s runs in a family. Great work with stress relief and mind-sharpening activity.

  • My mom taught me to knit and crochet when I was quite young. I could never do the fancy items she could do! She was very skilled at both and made baby blankets, sweaters and afghans for all of us. She continued to knit and crochet quite intricate patterns. When I had my youngest daughter, who is now 18, we could see the changes that her early onset Alzheimer’s had started. She couldn’t even crochet the edging on her blanket, and it was plain crochet. When my grandson, now 10, was born, she crocheted him a blue blanket, which looked more like a trapezoid than a rectangle. It was so hard to see that knowing the work she used to do. It is still treasured by my oldest daughter, who wouldn’t trade it for anything better! I still knit and crochet, but I will never be the knitter/crocheter my mom was!

    • Thank you Anne. I hope your mom could see how much you value that blanket.

  • I remember my mother crocheting my entire life. She continued to do so after she got Alzheimer’s up to the point where she could not remember how any more. A couple of months before she passed away she was in the hospital. At this point she barely recognized us and rarely spoke. One morning I returned to the hospital and a nurse told me she had had an hour long conversation about crocheting with my mother during the night. I was very happy to know that that was one of her memories that resurfaced. Just wish I could have been there to share the conversation.

    • Thank you Lola. Yes, that would have been a great moment, glad it happened.

  • Gran and Jess were sisters (my husband’s Grandmother and
    Great Aunt.) They had a fight and hadn’t talked for at least ten years.
    Oh, don’t ever try and invite them both over! Neither one would come, nor
    be happy with you.

    Eventually Gran got Alzheimer’s and we put her in a very nice home. Jess, meanwhile was placed in a convalescent hospital. She became bed ridden, and suffered from dementia. When
    Tom, my husband’s father went to visit Jess, he found her with a broken arm
    that hadn’t been looked into and not being treated well. He wanted to move her, though he had qualms about moving her in with Gran. But, he went ahead and did so. We waited for the
    fireworks to begin. No, it didn’t happen. They met each other and immediately
    became best friends, not realizing who the other was. Everything was dandy except when Tom came to visit. This would cause them to argue. Gran would say, “He’s my son!” And Jess would reply, “No, he’s my nephew!” We think that Jess must have figured it out, but she never said a word. They remained best friends till the end.

    • Thank you Leelyn. Old wounds can heal in mysterious ways.

  • I am a crochet addict. I began when I was 9 yrs. old and 10/15 I’ll be 61. I met a very special little Italian Lady named Rosalie when I went to work for her daughter, Donna and son-n-law, Bay back in 2003. Rosie use to come in and help out at the restaurant and we got so close. I use to bring my crochet in for her to see and she would take the special ones home and do the ironing and blocking for me as my mother use to do before she passed away. Just last week I was informed that Rosie is now in her late 80’s and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her memory is fading very fast but I was told by Donna that she always remembers me and my crocheting. I plan on going to visit her real soon while she can still remember me. Please keep Rosie in your thoughts and prayers. I love her dearly….

    • I am also a crochet & knitting addict who also started when i was 9 yrs., old. My mother tought me but it was very hard because i was the only one of 4 girls that was left handed so she had to teach me backwards. My mom died in 1990 of colon cancer then about 10 or 11 yrs later i lost my step-father to Alzheimer’s. It is very hard when you lose somebody you love with all your heart. I will keep your friend Rosie in my prayers. May God Bless all who suffer with Alzheimer’s.

      • I was taught by my great aunt. I also lost my mom to liver cancer in 1993. So far alzheimers has not appeared in my immediate family just dear friends.

    • Thank you Helen. I’ll pray for Rosie and Donna too.

  • I am a knitter & crocheter. My step-father had alzeimer’s & parkensions. When my sister told me this i quickly went to New York to see him. My sister & i sat down and discussed what had to be done for him. I lived in North Carolina & my sister lived just around the corner from my dad. My sister had a handicaped child so it was hard for to always be at my dads house. So we got him home care where he had somebody there with him at all times. He had one that was there Mon thur Fri & one on the weekend. As he got worse i would down & stay with him from time to time. But before he got homecare he was living by himself. We had lost our my to colon cancer. One day i got a call from my sister telling me that he had left the house & got lost on the avenue & didn’t know how to get back home. She said he remembered her phone # and called her crying & scared because he didn’t know how to get back home & had messed all over himself. When she told me that i got on the next greyhound to New York. I stayed with him for a month until we got the hepl he he need. He has since passed away & i miss him dearly. I had been with him since my 5th birthday & i loved him very much. I pray for all who have alzeimer’s that one day they will find a cure.

    • Thank you Frances. Good that you could get there to help.

  • Louise lived in a nursing home where I worked as the Social Services Director. She was an avid crocheter – she had been most of her life. She was confined to a wheelchair but that didn’t prevent her from being involved in life. She was friendly with the other residents but not her family. There had been a rift between brother and sister that kept Louise from accepting help from brother, Tom.
    Each time Louise finished an afghan, I would call Tom and ask him to bring her more yarn. He obliged with that request and anything else that Louise needed. The grudge was hers and only hers. At Tom’s request, I did not let Louise know where the yarn came from.
    After Thanksgiving one year Louise had a stroke that left her paralyzed on the right side and memory impaired. It was diagnosed as dementia. In her mind, Louise was crocheting up a storm! She would tell me about the Granny Squares she was making and who the afghan was for – though there was no Granny Square, no afghan, no yarn.
    Tom desperately hoped for a reconciliation with his only sister. As Christmas approached, I reminded him that it was the season for miracles. He was rewarded! Louise ran out of (imaginary) yarn and called Tom to ask for more. Louise could not figure out why Tom was crying when he entered her room carrying a bag of yarn in just the color she asked for. The stroke had erased the past and restored the present! It was a Christmas miracle tied up in yarn!

    • Thank you Jean. That is great that Tom had that gift of happiness from his sister.

  • My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 12 years
    ago. We watched him decline in his memory, his appearance and his
    abilities to do day to day chores. My mother who was declining with
    kidney failure finally asked me to take dad under our wings. We did.
    Two months later my mother passed away and dad didn’t have a clue. No
    matter how often we would tell him, he would continue to ask “Where’s
    mom?” We finally just told him mom was busy working in the
    garden or playing the slot machines. That made him feel good knowing she
    was happy. Dad is still active and going strong at the age
    of 87 in his own little world. Fortunately, he still recognizes his
    kids. He lives in a memory care facility specializing in dementia and
    Alzheimer’s patients and is very happy – The happiest my brothers and
    I have ever seen him. Finding him a home specializing in caring for those
    with this disease was the best thing I could do for him and the
    rest of my family. He plays games, takes walks, feeds the ducks and has
    people to chat with all the time. We all would like to care
    for our loved ones in their Golden Age, but when it comes to Alzheimer’s
    Disease, it can take such a toll on the caregivers. When dad lived with
    us we could see that we couldn’t give him the care that he
    needed in his advancing stages. Finding a
    place that he can call home and seeing him happy is the greatest feeling on

    • Thank you Lucia. Your dad is very fortunate to be in a good home. I’ll pretend that his wave is just for me.

  • My mother and her brothers had Alzheimer’s and it was so difficult with my mother. I found it was such a reversal of roles. I was mother and she my child having to do things for her. As the family was scattered around Britain it was decided to put her in a home. She had a habit of walking and they would be able to stop this. My sister was the one to look after her in the homes. It is so hard but she does not know what is really happening. Thank you so much for running for this charity.

    • Thank you Joy. Love plays many roles.

  • David – what a great thing you are doing. Crochet is one of my family’s traditions. My great aunt Sadie patiently taught me as a child how to actually put together all of those stitches into something useful and beautiful. “A cable does the talking when the chain does the walking” helped me grasp the concept of patterning. In your case, I think it’s “the knit does the talking while David does the running.” 🙂 Auntie Sadie made some of the most amazing doilies I’ve ever seen. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago, but she is doing well and still able to enjoy her crochet. Hopefully that will continue for a long time to come.

    • Thank you Bee. I’ll knit and run as long as I can do good with it.

  • When I came back to my hometown 12 years ago, I found out that my friend’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It was still in the early stage but she could not be left home without supervision to ensure her safety. I would go and keep her company, doing crochet or knitting for charity groups, in a rocking chair next to her while she’d do her daily crosswords. At first she knew what I was doing, but as the months/years went by, she started forgetting how it was called and what it was for. At one point she only remembered who I was when she’d see my yarn bag. Nowadays, she is in a nursing home, but I still cherish the memories of the time I spent with her.

    • Thank you Lucie. I am sure that she found great value in you at her side.

  • My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 8. Years later, when she started to show signs of Alzheimer’s, she and I were still crocheting. Even though she died many years ago, I still remember her when I pick up my hook.

    • Thank you Kathe. I am glad that you were able to share your crochet with each other.

  • “Crochet” and “Alzheimer’s” are two words which will forever remind me of my beloved grandmother. She learned the art from my great-grandmother, growing up in France during WW2. She taught my mother, who then taught me.

    My grandparents moved to the United States when my mother was a toddler. My grandmother lived a full, beautiful life. Her love of laughter, the beach, and music, are just a few of the marks she has left on my life. One of my favorite things in the world was sitting on her couch crocheting, while she shared memories. She was a wonderful story-teller, acquainting me with places I’ve never been and people I’ll never meet. One of whom was her mother, my great-grandmother, a woman talented in all manner of thread craft and lace work, relics of which I count among my most-treasured possessions. In the final years of her life, as her Alzheimer’s progressed, my grandmother lost the ability to do many things, and she could no longer remember the loved ones she left behind in France, who now live in my memories of her stories about them. But still, one of my favorite things was sitting together on her couch while I crocheted, as our conversations took on the circular repetition that Alzheimer’s conversations often do. As she would express admiration for whatever I was crocheting, she would ask, “Who taught you to crochet?”, and be surprised when I’d remind her that she and my mother had.

    I am blessed beyond measure to have been shaped by a strong woman from the Greatest Generation. I am proud of her, and of so many life treasures that are part of her legacy. I look forward to the day my daughter is old enough to sit with me on the couch while we crochet, and I share with her my memories of her own great-grandmother, and tell her of the lineage of women to which she belongs. Strong, grace-filled women, who, in spite of great pain and loss, have chosen to remain joyful and loving.

    • Thank you A Matthews. Great legacy of mothers teaching daughters. It is wonderful that you can give back to her the stories that she shared with you.

  • I cared for my mom for 7 years – from early stages of Alzheimer’s until she forgot how to swallow (that was the hardest part for me – I wanted so much to be able to feed her). When she was still in early stages she asked me one day to help her remember how to crochet – she tried, bless her heart, but never asked again ….. even though I continued crocheting.

    • Thank you Gerrye. That is sweet that she asked you to teach her again.

  • My grandmother taught my mom to crochet and my mom taught me when I was about 8. I’ve been crocheting every since. My grandmother would come for a month during the summer and the three of us would all crochet throughout the evenings. One time I begged my mom to buy me an afghan kit and she said I would probably not finish it but I assured her I would – I did not, but my grandmother did during one of her summer visits. I cherish that afghan we made together. My mom developed alzheimer’s several years ago and can no longer crochet due to malformed hands due to arthritis. I don’t get to crochet as much as I used to or want to, but when I do I always think of my three generations crocheting together enjoying laughs and good times.

    Thank you for running for Alzheimer’s. I never realized how devastating the disease was until my mom’s hit full on. It’s a hard disease for those who care for them but even harder for those who have it.

    • Thank you Deanna. Great summer memories. Yes, this disease hits not just the individual but their family caregivers. Caregivers need more support.

  • My Mother-in-law is currently in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, she was an avid knitter for years and we have a cedar chest full of sweaters that we will be donating to charity. When I was cleaning out closets I can’t tell you how many projects I found that were started and never finished. I’ve been able to finish off two blankets and give them to her grandchildren and I’m in the process of converting the other “pieces” and leftover yarns into afghans for other family members. I always label these from “Grandma’s Closet” so that they will have something to remember the things she loved to do. If fact the other day I asked her how to wash a sweater and she was able to tell me to wash it by hand. I was glad that she still had that memory. I will be cheering you on, thank you for running for the fight against Alzheimer’s. And knitting as you go, that is a talent.

    • Thank you Bridget. I love that you will be donating the sweaters to charity. Could you use them as a way to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s issues? You might try contacting your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and brainstorm on a way to do that. I love that you are helping to turn bits into mementos for family. Thanks for the cheers.

  • My grandparents were moved into an assisted living facility due to the onset of dementia for my grandfather and alzheimers for my grandmother. I didn’t want Nana to be cold so I knit her a prayer shawl with Homespun yarn in purple hues. After my grandmother passed away (7 months after Grampa) I went to her room with my mother to help clean out her things. I told my mother that I wanted to keep the shawl that I had given to her, but we could not find it. I don’t know what happened to it but I can only assume that Nana didn’t remember me giving it to her so she didn’t know it was hers and she gave it away. It’s tragic to see people you love forget. By the way I still have the afghan Nana crocheted for me 37 years ago!

    • Thank you Jane. One can only hope that afghan made with love is being enjoyed by someone else that needs it too.

  • July 25, 2008 began as a typical day, but ended anything but usual. My husband, Douglas, age 60, was driving on the freeway when he suffered not one, but two ischemic strokes. A state trooper mistakenly thought his erratic driving was due to being under the influence. Douglas was arrested and taken to jail (although a breath-alyzer test later showed he was NOT under the influence). At any rate, he was in jail for seven hours before I could bail him out and take him to the hospital, where the strokes were diagnosed. He was in stroke rehab therapy for the next six months.
    We lost our house, Douglas lost his self-employment business of 35 years and we lost our main source of income. The end result of the brain damage from the strokes is called vascular dementia, which is quite similar to Alzheimer’s Disease.
    I work part time as a nursing assistant, and fulltime as Doug’s caregiver. I knit and crochet, making newborn baby hats for our local maternity hospital, and cat blankets for our city’s animal shelter. Douglas was paired with a wonderful service dog named Keesha, who came from the animal shelter, so crocheting/knitting cat blankets is my way of saying thank you to them. I also crochet and knit clothes for teddy bears as baby shower gifts, knit ties and baby blankets and afghans, scarves and baby booties.
    Thank you for reading our story.

    • Thank you Larissa. Recognition of dementia symptoms is an important part of the increased awareness that we need. Keesha sounds like a good friend.

  • When I wrote my book Crochet Saved My Life I included an entire chapter on how crochet helps people with Alzheimer’s. I discovered so many touching stories of how crochet helps people who are dealing with age-related memory loss – it helps keep the hands active when they get restless as a result of this disease, it helps provide a productive and creative way to continue contributing to the world despite the progression of the disease. Research shows that knitting and crochet also have neuroprotective qualities that may help with prevention. So important. My own grandparents declined with age-related memory loss in their last years so it’s a topic close to home.

    • Thank you Kathryn. I love these stories. I hadn’t realized how helpful crafts can be for both caregivers and those who have Alzheimer’s.

  • My mother had vascular dementia the last year of her life. Alzheimers is the most common form of dementia, and so people are very quick to assume that dementia and Alzheimers are the same thing. This is unfortunate, because different dementias progress differently. At present we know of a few treatments that may slow the progression of Alzheimers a little but nothing that can reverse it even temporarily. Not so with vascular dementia. As the name suggests, this is caused at least partially by a reduction in blood flow to the brain. Therefore any sort of exercise will lead to a temporary improvement in function for a patient with vascular dementia. So will opportunities to converse, learn new things, work puzzles, etc, although usually not as much as reasonable exercise.

    I mention this because sometimes our loved ones may have put off important paperwork too long, and still need to revise a will or get a durable power of attorney for someone to make decisions for them when they are no longer able, or write a living will specifying end of life decisions that they have made or who needs to make them for them when the time comes.

    Try to get these done before dementia strikes, when there will be absolutely no grounds for a challenge. But if your loved ones are already showing signs of dementia, it is worth seeing if a brisk walk or other pleasant exercise can restore enough of their facilities that they can rationally make decisions and legally document their decisions with a sound mind. This will not work with Alzheimer patients, but will work with some types of dementai. Even if your doctor has called the dementai Alzheimers, they may not have done tests to be sure which type of dementia your loved one has. The treatment is often the same and the outcome in the long one is the same, so the doctor may not think that it is worth explaining the difference, and just use the more familiar term. So this may be one last gift that you can give your loved ones.

    • Thank you Kit. Good solid advice and warnings for dementia action.

  • Wow! your stories are all so amazing. Thank you so much for sharing. I am planning on literally running with these stories by printing them out, really small, and carrying them with me on the NYC marathon run. Just a small symbolic gesture of what these stories mean for me. I also wanted to give back a little by sharing some designs that I made after reading about so many of you who carry on the legacy of your craft that you learned from your parents. Use them as you’d like. I can email printable resolution 8 x 10’s if you’d like.

  • My Mom had alzheimer’s. She had been a crocheter, so I brought my crochet hook and some yarn to one of our visits. Her fingers knew just what to do! Later she was in hospice, days before she passed away, I was crocheting a dish cloth. I asked for her opinion about what color to use for the border. She and I chose the same color. All the little things add up to a big thing.
    My thoughts will be with you while your run!

  • Last fall I had to move my mother into a memory care unit. So many of the once active residents now just sit on chairs and couches surrounding the nurses station. Many have blankets covering them. Could you connect your scarves to make blankets? Perhaps the texture of the knitted scarves would jog some sort of memories for the lovely folks who just can’t do much anymore. Thank you!

  • My grandmother was an avid knitter and so several years ago I tried to learn. I’m not a terrible knitter, per se, but suffice to say the scarf I started about 5 years ago is really for of a pot holder right now. The color is a lovely fuchsia that my grandmother would have loved. Although my grandmother did suffer from Alzheimer’s, it’s my current story I wanted to share.
    I am 38, my mother is 67. She just celebrated her 67th birthday on Nov 6th. About 7 years ago, she was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a form of dementia. She also has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Currently living in a wonderful assisted living facility on a locked floor, I had to sign my mother out to take her to a birthday dinner. She was in a great mood, very upbeat, but every time we mentioned that it was her birthday, she was shocked and surprised! “It is?! I didn’t know!” My hope is that she gets the same thrill about remembering it’s her birthday as I do when I forget throughout the workday.
    My blog, BurgundiesBlog.wordpress.com is about my experiences with my mother’s early onset dementia, how the roles are now reversed, and she regularly calls me ‘mom’.

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