Why Danielle Walks

A Story of Alzheimer’s

by Stephanie Grair Ashford 

Danielle Morris has fond memories of her “granny,” Kitty Morris. “My great uncle and his wife Miss Kitty took in my mom who was one of seven children. They raised her, and they helped to raise me,” Dani recalls. “My granny was a nurturer who cared for and did for everyone. She never said no!”

Kitty Morris was an active member at New Light Baptist Church and a member of the Eastern Star. “She was a ‘busy’ body, singing in the choir and serving as a nurse at church. My granny was also the secretary for the Eastern Star for many years and enjoyed traveling with the organization.”

When Miss Kitty came home one day and told her granddaughter that she had gone to the market but had trouble remembering how to get home, Dani didn’t think much of it. When it happened again, two months later, Dani took her to a neurologist. During the interview, her grandmother could not remember the name of the President nor the day’s date. Miss Kitty got scared because she could not remember. Dani speculates that her grandma feared she might have the same fate as her aunt who had had “problems” and was kept in a back room.

After experiencing the loss of the three men in her life within three years (her father, son, and husband), Miss Kitty was diagnosed with the dreaded disease in 1999 when Dani was 29. One of ten grandchildren, Dani was the one to step up to take care of her grandma. Dr. Toby told the family to get in touch with the Alzheimer’s Association, and Miss Kitty received the NeverLost ID bracelet. The Association tracked her grandma’s symptoms and would often call with tips for Miss Kitty’s care and symptoms/behaviors to watch for as the disease progressed.

One day, she received a call suggesting that she take the knobs off the stove. Dani did not think it was necessary because her grandma didn’t really cook anymore. Besides, if she got up in the middle of the night, Sadie, their dog, would start barking. Wouldn’t you know it, Miss Kitty decided to turn on the stove that night, and Sadie did not bark. When Dani woke up the next morning, the house was filled with gas. Thank goodness several windows had been open overnight. Everyone was fine.

Day to day activities became more difficult, and Miss Kitty stopped doing the things she enjoyed. After a while, getting her up and out became an issue; Miss Kitty did not like the fact that the granddaughter was telling the grandmother what to do. Dani recalls one incident in particular. “One morning, Miss Louise (the health aide) and I were trying to get Miss Kitty ready so she could go to Concordia Adult Day Care Center. We argued with her for about an hour, and she refused to get dressed. She had yet to put on her pants when William, the bus driver, knocked on the door. When he asked her if she was ready to go to work, my granny said, ‘I’ll be there in two shakes!’ Whenever we could not get her to do something, we would enlist the help of William or a neighbor. A male voice would always make her more agreeable.”

As the disease progressed, Miss Kitty started accusing people of stealing from her, and she would often hide her belongings. Dani found some of Miss Kitty’s china plates in a dresser drawer. During her illness, she went from a size 24 to a size 8. Eventually, she stopped eating and would not drink Ensure for nourishment. Miss Kitty died in 2004 at age 83, but not before she left a lasting legacy for her granddaughter.

Dani attributes her own commitment to service and outgoing personality to Miss Kitty. She is the President of the Cleveland School of the Arts Alumni Association and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Cleveland Area Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Dani’s team, “Sistas in Control,” has been Walking to End Alzheimer’s for over 10 years in memory of her grandmother. Dani also walks so that funds will provide better detection and slow down the progress of the disease. Dani states, “I walk to give back. Hopefully, my efforts will help the next generation so they will not be impacted by this disease.”

You can be a part of the ongoing research to help achieve the vision of the Alzheimer’s Association to find a cure. On Sunday, September 29, you have an opportunity to help make a difference in the lives of those who have, and will have, this currently incurable disease. Join Annette of FirstLight HomeCare of Chardon by signing up online or give her a call at 440-973-9505.

Annette is giving the top raiser of funds for Team FirstLight HomeCare a gift certificate for a pedicure from Arra’s Salon and Spa in Concord. Take just a couple of minutes and sign up now or donate.

September 29, 2013

Holden Arboretum
9550 Sperry Road
Kirtland, OH 44094

8:30 am- Activities/ 9:30- Ceremony / 9:45- 1 and 3 mile Walks 




Geauga News
Author: Geauga News