Courtesy Texas Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders
Amy Osler was a busy, full-of-life wife and mother. When she began experiencing inexplicable memory lapses, she sought medical answers. Nothing could have prepared her for the diagnosis she received. At age 50, Amy learned she had early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
In the two years since her diagnosis, the disease has impacted Amy’s life in both challenging and inspiring ways. For one, the mother of two teenagers no longer drives.
“It’s a hard thing to lose your independence,” says Amy, who now relies on her attentive husband, caring friends, and 16-year-old daughter to take her where she needs to go. It was Amy’s daughter who encouraged her to make her story public.
The Greater Dallas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association estimates 25,000 people ages 65+ have Alzheimer’s disease. Of those people, 19,000 are women. According to The Shriver Report, women in their 60s are nearly twice as likely to develop the devastating disease over the rest of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer. Alzheimer’s is the only disease in the top 10 causes of death that has no prevention, no treatment, and no known cure.
Today, Amy is in good hands under the care of Diana Kerwin, M.D. Dr. Kerwin is the medical director of Texas Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. She also sits on the board of the national Alzheimer’s Association and is the chair of the Greater Dallas chapter.
“Alzheimer’s disease affects every individual differently,” Dr. Kerwin says. “Quality of life is my highest consideration when I care for patients of all ages and stages of the disease. I strive to increase confidence in families while managing the chronic disease, because it affects everyone.”
“Amy has chosen to face the disease head-on and has maintained a positive attitude that helps everyone around her. I have learned a great deal from Amy. She has been instrumental in reaching others and getting words of encouragement out to all of us to fight the fight with her, to cure Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Kerwin adds.
Amy’s path has taken her through tears of denial to prayers for courage to inspired action. She now knows that God has called upon her to build awareness and teach others about living with Alzheimer’s. There are hard days when Amy laments over the slow loss of her independence, but her faith along with the love and support of family and friends help her remain strong. At the Walk to End Alzheimer’s 2014, friends of the Osler family organized “Team Amy” and were a powerful force, walking to support her. Together, they raised $128,000 to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.
This year, Amy is the local spokesperson for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s 2015. She draws on the strengths of a background in public speaking to reach people with her message of advocacy and purpose, and to restore her spirit. She has found peace in her destiny and is actively engaged in spreading awareness to a growing community of Alzheimer’s supporters and sufferers.
Dr. Kerwin shares in Amy’s vision of a world without Alzheimer’s disease by acknowledging: “We address the disease for what it is today; we raise awareness and funding for research to work toward finding more treatments and, ultimately, a cure.”
Diana Kerwin, M.D., is chief of geriatrics at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, chair of the Dallas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and medical director of Texas Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice. Dr. Kerwin is dedicated to caring for mind and memory. For more information, call 214-345-4449 or visit TexasAlzheimersandMemoryDisorders.com. Physicians employed by Texas Health Physicians Group practice independently and are not employees of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.