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Marching for Marilyn: Londonderry family will 'Walk to End Alzheimer's'

By GRETCHEN M. GROSKY
New Hampshire Union Leader

September 12. 2017 5:54AM
Clifford Beidleman and his family will honor the memory of his wife, Marilyn, on Sept. 23 by participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer's in Manchester. Front row, from left, is Jill Beidleman Jaworski, Kim Donovan, Mandy Beidleman, Nick Beidleman, Blake Secor, Ann Secor and Paige Secor. Second row, from left, is Chris Donovan, Clifford Beidleman, Eric Beidleman, Brooke Secor and Karen Secor. (COURTESY)

Marilyn Beidleman was only 56 when she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

There were memory issues that concerned her husband, Clifford Beidleman. A call from the school where she worked. Eye exams she failed because she could not comprehend such directions as “read Line 2 or 5,” and then the diagnosis, her husband said.

From the time of her diagnosis in 2006 until her death in November 2015, Beidleman cared for his wife in their Londonderry home. He enrolled her in adult day cares, hired caregivers to sit with her while he worked, and at night and on weekend, he took over the caregiving duties. He would carry her upstairs to shower and bathe her and moved their bedroom downstairs into the dining room to make it easier. He brought in hospice.

“I always say she would have done the same thing for me,” Beidleman said.

Beidleman, his three children and their spouses, and his four grandchildren will honor Marilyn’s memory Sept. 23 by participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Manchester. They’ve named their team “Marilyn’s Marchers.”

“It’s the least we can do for their mother, my wife, and to just show some support and love for this disease that has just robbed so many people of so much,” Beidleman said. “It’s not just our family but millions of people who have been affected and will be affected until we find a cure.”

This is the second year the family is teaming up for the walk. Beidleman said he’s participated in previous walks, sometimes walking with Marilyn. His son Eric Beidleman has run four Boston Marathons as part of the Alzheimer’s Association team.

Earlier this summer, Clifford Beidleman raised $2,000 by riding 33 miles in the Seacoast Ride to End Alzheimer’s.

“I didn’t even have a bike for the event,” he said, adding he opted to rent one.

Paying back the goodness he received as Marilyn’s caregiver is important to Beidleman. He said he never forgets those who helped him care for his wife and always sends them birthday and holiday cards.

“And if they were in the same situation and needed help caring for someone, they all know I would do the same for them,” Beidleman said.

And now Beidleman is volunteering his time to help a woman care for her husband battling Alzheimer’s disease. Beidleman takes the man out for three hours a week to the library or a local senior center where they have lunch or play Bingo. Last week, he took him to a baseball game.

“If I can help, I’ll be a resource for them,” Beidleman said. “It’s a few moments out for him, and it’s something for him to look forward to which is very important for him and for his wife who needs time.”

Beidleman said he is hopeful one day there will be a cure for Alzheimer’s and hopes that day is soon.

“You want to believe an end is in sight, but it’s not soon enough,” Beidleman said. “It’s bankrupting our country and it’s going to cost more and more. The cost is astronomical — not only in dollars and cents, but in lives too.”

To join or donate to Marilyn’s Marchers, visit https://goo.gl/YAbHsw.

Silver Linings is a continuing Union Leader/Sunday news report focusing on the issues of New Hampshire’s aging population and seeking out solutions. Union Leader reporter Gretchen Grosky would like to hear from readers about issues related to aging. She can be reached at ggrosky@unionleader.com or (603) 206-7739. See more at www.unionleader.com/aging.


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