47 Years of Love: Coping with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Local News

It’s a tradition for several generations of the Smith family of Knoxville. They often gather at their grandparents’ dining room table to play a competitive game of ‘Sorry.’ And it goes way back. They display an older version of the classic board game they used years ago, even before Charlie and Susan Smith got married.

The last 47 years have seen many blessings for this family of faith. They cherish every moment, especially now that Charlie has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

“It’s slow progressing, which is nice,” says Susan. “He does everything for himself. I can leave him home there’s no problem. He can fix himself a meal, he can clean up after himself , too. He’s very good at that.”

Charlie is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but the former chemist, blessed with a brilliant mind his entire life, knew he had to make some important decisions while he still could. One of the first? He gave up his car key.

“I haven’t driven since, ” Charlie said. “Sold my car, bought a new refrigerator.”

He laughed as he lovingly patted his wife’s shoulders. “Priorities.”

Son Preston has gone through the gamut of emotions since his dad’s diagnosis.

“Mom and I talk about it and it’s a new normal, so we know that there’s going to be repeat stories, things like that, but the good days where he’s pretty clear, at least when I see him, they’re more often.”

Alzheimer’s affects the entire family. Charlie’s grandson and namesake wants everyone to know why he and his family will have a team for Charlie at this year’s Alzheimer’s Walk.

“He really loves us all, ” Charlie said. “He has a great heart, and he’s an all-around great person.”

That sentiment is one any grandparent would treasure.

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Knoxville is Saturday, October 28th , at 10:30 am at Zoo Knoxville. Registration is from 8 – 9:30 am. The walk is two miles through the zoo. For more information on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, click here.

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