BOSTON (CBS) – Each month, WBZ Cares highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community.
This month, WBZ Cares profiles the Alzheimer’s Association Massachusetts and New Hampshire Chapter. It is one of over 70 Alzheimer’s Association chapters serving communities across the country providing care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The organization is committed to accelerating the progress of new treatments, prevention and ultimately a cure.
Several years after Karen Finocchio Lubeck’s mother Louise died from Alzheimer’s she continues to volunteer for the association.
Diagnosed with the disease in 1995 at age 59, Louise she was only supposed to live seven or eight years but ended up surviving much longer, thanks to pioneering electric shock therapy. Therapy funded in part by the Alzheimer’s Association.
“The last resort, she was patient number 11. It was a pilot program, research that was being funded by the Association when no one else would fund it,” Finocchio Lubeck said. “We were lucky to have my mom for 20 years.”
Finnochio Lubeck says before the shock therapy, her mother had become combative, but afterward, she felt like she had the real Louise back and her mom was overjoyed every time Karen walked into the room.
“Her eyes would light up. Smile from ear to ear, and ‘it’s you! You’re here! I’m so excited to see you!’ and we would call it Lulu’s Sparkle. And why I work with the Association, even though she has passed away, I see families being impacted by the research that my mom was part of the pioneering crew.
Karen is now a member of the ALZ-Ahead Leadership group.
“There’s this comradery and support,” she said. “We are all in this fight together. And we are not going to stop until there is a cure. I can’t wait to be unemployed from this volunteer role.”
Finocchio Lubeck says she’s eternally grateful to the Association for providing invaluable care and support through her mother’s illness.
“For me, it was a safe space to go,” she said. “The place of knowledge, caring, really what struck out the most was it gave me an opportunity to give my mom a voice. ‘Ahh it’s you, you’re here! I’m so excited to see you’ and we call it Lulu’s sparkle.”