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Dear Friend of CaringKind,

When you write things on paper and say things out loud, it makes them real. Maybe that’s why I’ve never really shared these things publicly before.

Elaine Elinor Gellis, my darling mother, was born in November 1950 in the Bronx, NY. A Mathematical genius, my mother was an actuary who worked for the New York Life Insurance Company. My mother was a rock star. She worked tirelessly while my dad was in law school, earning enough money to buy their home in Great Neck, NY. She instilled in me an undeniable work ethic, and always made me promise I would make my own money. More importantly she taught me to be honest and to be kind.

My mother has been living with Alzheimer’s disease for the last 14 years. She was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s when she was just 59 - when I was 23 years old. When we received the diagnosis, my younger sister was studying abroad at the time. My dad and I sat in the kitchen of my parents’ home, teary eyed, my young soul crushed by the official diagnosis, but we solidly bonded together. He assured me that we would be ok, and I assured him we would, too. I promised him I would take care of my little sister and do anything and everything for her she would ever need, and he promised me that I need not worry, for he was sure there would be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease in my lifetime.

I didn’t think a family could be closer than ours, but in the next years we would become even closer. I promised my dad I would step in and help with my mom’s care whenever he needed. My mom and I spent a large portion of the next two years together, suddenly roles reversing. My bold and beautiful mother, sharp, witty, opinionated, do-not-mess-with-me kind of vibe, was softer, more vulnerable, clearly aware that things were changing but comfortable to be surrounded by her family, in her home. I eventually hired caretakers that continue to care for my mom full time today, and for them we are eternally grateful. My mom would not be where she is today without them. My mom remains my best friend, in my soul. She may be nonverbal, but I know she hears me, I know she sees me, I know she feels my presence.

The crazy thing about life is that it is filled with endless blessings, as well as unexpected heart break.

I leaned on my dad so much in the early years of my mom’s diagnosis, and truly, for my entire life. If there was ever a mortal person who I imagined was a superhero, that person is my father. Not only brilliantly gifted in his field of law, but so ethical, kind, funny, truly the sweetest soul. I idolize that man, to this very day. I viewed him as untouchable, human Teflon, and for much of his life he has been just that.

Shortly after my wedding, in September of 2019, my sister and I noticed my dad exhibiting signs of acting differently. We were truly perplexed. The symptoms were different than my mom had presented, and the behavior was so out of character for my dad that we did not know what to attribute it to.

I’m not a betting woman, but if there was ever someone in my life I would tell you would never suffer from this disease, it would be my father. I would have bet my life on it.

In September of 2021, my dad was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and last year a further diagnosis of Frontotemporal dementia.

This is the part of the story for me that remains hard to share because it makes it real – that both of my parents have been impacted by this horrible disease. But the reality is Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is all too real, and we all need to work together to
raise awareness and funds to support the close to 11 million Americans currently living with and caregiving for those with the disease.

CaringKind has been around for over 45 years and has been an anchor during this challenging time for me and my family, providing support services free-of-charge when needed. My goal in sharing my story is to help raise awareness and money for this organization, and most importantly, help anyone struggling to know they are not alone.

As a Trusted Partner, CaringKind helps support anyone when and how they need it.

Please join me in donating towards the the CaringKind Mother’s and Father’s Day Campaign to ensure that CaringKind can continue to provide guidance, support, and comprehensive services and programs free of charge - and hope – to those with Alzheimer’s and related dementias, their family members, and caregivers.*

With gratitude,
Emily Gellis Lande
Loving daughter, caregiver, and advocate

P.S. *Donors of $100 and over will be publicly recognized along with their loved ones on the “Memory Wall” at the
2024 CaringKind New York City Alzheimer’s Walk in Central Park on October 19, 2024.

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