THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Before you die, you forget. Names. Moments. You no longer remember how to feed yourself.
Alzheimer’s, according NIH research, the third-leading killer of older Americans, is mean to caretakers, too.
KHOU 11 News met Tony Soord doing it all for his wife, Lillian, two years ago. Their daughter, Sherina Welch, documented it in a photo essay called “The Forgotten Project” to raise awareness.
Soord fell last month. Lying flat on his back with a broken left hip, Soord, Lillian’s sole caregiver for 13 years, needed her hand to get up. She is his motivation.
“This is the one thing we’ve all been dreading,” Welch said. “If something was to happen to my dad, who's going to care for my mom?”
Lillian developed Alzeheimer’s as she retired and planned to travel to world with her husband. Her condition is severe.
“She’s absolutely helpless,” Tony Soord said. “So I need to get up and move and do stuff for her. I can’t just sit around.”
Two years ago, Welch started “The Forgotten Project” with her business FreeSpiritFolo to raise awareness through photos of the impact Alzheimer’s disease has on nearly three million US families each year.
Her parents got by OK until Soord fell.
“It was actually utter despair in the eyes, because they’ve been married for almost 60 years, and they’ve never spent a night apart -- seriously,” Welch said.
Both Tony and Lillian Soord landed in the same nursing home, unsure when or if they would go home or how the family would afford the around-the-clock care they needed.
Then they discovered Stephany Perry, a mom of five boys who runs a charity called the Drakaina Foundation, had the Soords' backs.
Perry’s foundation supports seven causes, now including “The Forgotten Project.” They intend to raise money to help Welch continue her work and help her parents.
Perry’s partners plan to film a mini-documentary and include it in a pilot they plan to get on television.
“We’re trying to see where all of this takes us and how big we can make it,” Perry said.
For the moment, Soord just wants to get his wife home and give her the love and care she deserves.