By Maria Shriver:
In June, Geri Taylor spoke in front of participants of my first-ever Move for Minds Alzheimer’s fundraising and fitness event. Move for Minds took place at Equinox Sports Clubs in six different cities across the United States, and Geri Taylor spoke to the group in New York about living with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Taylor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2012. Upon learning about her diagnosis, Taylor sought support from her therapist about her diagnosis however, she was not expecting to hear what the therapist would tell her. Taylor said that the therapist “tried to convince me that the diagnosis was incorrect.” When the therapist did finally give Taylor some advice, it was to “Tell No One!” Saying if she shared the news, people would back away from her life.
Taylor and her husband decided not to listen to the therapist’s advice, but instead, to share Taylor’s diagnosis. The support she received was strong and warm. Taylor said, “No one backed away. In fact, the outreach to me and all my relationships has grown in warmth and depth. She later added, “we have been so fortunate, family and friends have not withdrawn, but rather have come around and ensure that I maintain my active life.”
While Taylor’s experience sharing her story had been nothing but positive, she recognizes that not everyone is as lucky as she. “The social loss can have a very negative impact. It increases social isolation and despair at a time most people need it the most,” Taylor said. Her advice to others with the diagnosis is to “maintain activity and social interaction as long as possible.”
Taylor and her husband have chosen to do just that. “We will continue our lives as long as I am able to continue our activities. She then added that while they know there are tough days ahead, “we shall share each day with passion, pursuing our dreams and our ideas not yet experienced.”
Taylor chooses to look at the positives of her diagnosis with Alzheimer’s and says that she is a different person today than she was before her diagnosis. She says it “allows her the opportunity to recognize the preciousness of every mundane or extraordinary experience in my life.” She continued by saying that she is not in denial. Taylor said, “I know that I am limited and at the same time I feel expanded by the opportunity of knowing that what I experience is to be cherished and that every moment is special.”
With such a positive outlook on her diagnosis, Taylor continues to share her experience with Alzheimer’s, including a piece in the New York Times, in hopes that her story can help others.
About the Author:
Maria Shriver is a mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor covering the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Since 2009, Shriver has produced a groundbreaking series of Shriver Reports that chronicle and explore seismic shifts in the American culture and society affecting women today. Shriver was California’s First Lady from 2003 to 2010 and, during that time, she spearheaded what became the nation’s premier forum for women, The Women’s Conference. Shriver’s work is driven by her belief that all of us have the ability to be what she calls Architects of Change — people who see a problem in their own life or the community around them, then step out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to create the solution. Like her page on Facebook or follow her on Instagram.
A modified version of this piece appeared on MariaShriver.com.