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Mondloch family named Alzheimer's Walk honorary chairs

The Mondloch family is this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s New Richmond honorary chairs. Mother Arlene Mondloch is pictured with four of her seven children — (from left) Nancy Murphy, Marilyn Sturdevant, Kris Hanson and Lisa Olson. Not pictured are Teresa Lakin, Mike Mondloch and Steve Mondloch. Photo courtesy of the Mondloch family

The 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer's New Richmond kicks off at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, and this year's honorary chairs are the seven siblings of the Mondloch family. Their mother, Arlene, had vascular dementia and lived at the Deerfield for the last four years until she died March 1, 2017.

"It was probably about 10 years ago when Mom started to show signs of dementia, so we went through all the stuff that went with trying to figure out exactly what was going on," said daughter Lisa Olson. "In 2013, we were able to move our parents into the Deerfield into an apartment since Mom wasn't safe to be at home and Dad was having a hard time taking care of her."

The Mondloch family — which includes Olson, Nancy Murphy, Marilyn Sturdevant, Kris Hanson, Teresa Lakin, Mike Mondloch and Steve Mondloch — will be well represented at this year's walk, Olson said, with five or six of the siblings attending along with a few grandchildren, one great grandchild and two dogs.

The Mondlochs lived in the same home in New Richmond for 57 years before the couple, including the siblings; father Roland ("Tony"), moved into the Deerfield in 2013.

"Dad was able to take care of her with help from multiple siblings, but his health was declining as well, so we got them into the apartment," Olson said. "She didn't have Alzheimer's, she had vascular dementia. But they have similar symptoms. Mom always had her bag packed and wanted to know when they were going home...It was stuff like that that was gut wrenching."

About a year after the couple moved into the Deerfield, a memory care unit opened up and Arlene and Roland moved into the unit together.

"Mom still had a few escapes from the apartments, and dad couldn't be awake 24/7 watching her, so it was good to get her the extra help to watch out for her," Olson said. "Dad did his best to watch out for her, but he finally had other people to help. But it was still very hard for him to turn over her care."

In January 2016, Roland died; Arlene died a little over a year later.

The Mondlochs have had a team in the New Richmond Alzheimer's Walk for the last two years; Olson walked in the event for several years as part of the Westfields Clinic and Hospital team, until she retired after 36 years in March.

"I think the best part of being named honorary chairs — being that my parents have been in town so long and had so many connections with people — is that we can help make people more aware of Alzheimer's and all that goes along with it," Olson said. "It was really messy and uncomfortable at first, especially when you look at your parents and remember how they were, so it is hard to wrap your head around it. And that makes it hard to admit what is actually going on. To know that there are other people out there who are going through this now and have been through it before is what we want people to know. There is support out there for you."

Olson knows her family will enjoy the event, and they are excited to share their story with those still going through it.

"We are really honored to do this; we were surprised," Olson said. "We are ready to do that, and this is a good year to do it since it would have been hard to do last year with Mom still around. We saw the end of our mother's life and now this can become the beginning of us helping other people who are going through the same thing.

"The biggest thing that the walk does is raise awareness, because for us, knowing that we weren't alone and that there is so much good information out there was amazing."

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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