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Raleigh family deals with Alzheimer's together

Posted December 18, 2011
Updated December 19, 2011

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— The family of Lois Shoolbred, 81, nicknamed "Lo Lo," has shared their collective struggles with Alzheimer's disease for the past year with WRAL News.

This Sunday morning, Lo Lo was having a good day as she went to mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh with her son, Dave Simpson, and daughter-in-law, Denise Simpson.

Lo Lo was still outgoing and charming.

"I prayed to God that he'd give me the strength to raise my boys to be good, clean, decent people," Lo Lo said.

"She's definitely a woman of faith," Dave Simpson said. Lois "Lo Lo" Shoolbred WRAL Documentary: Lo Lo

Not all days have been good, since a WRAL documentary on Lo Lo first aired this past summer.

"She was getting agitated, getting aggressive, trying to run away," Dave Simpson said.

At one point, Lo Lo fell and knocked out some teeth. Lois "Lo Lo" Shoolbred Behind-the-scenes: Lois "Lo Lo" Shoolbred

Her son found relief in responding with humor, along with a new mixture of medications and dental work.

"She said, 'What in the world is going on here? I know I'm brushing my teeth. Is my hygiene not good?'" he recalled. "I said, 'Your hygiene is fine. You knocked out two of your teeth. You're going to have it fixed.'"

Lo Lo has also grown more attached to Clare Bridge of Cary, the Alzheimer's and dementia care community where she lives.

"When she goes in, you can just tell she's sort of relieved. It feels like home," Denise Simpson said.

"That's a really good development, as far as I'm concerned, for her to want to go back there," Dave Simpson said. "It's really hard when she doesn't want to go back. To leave her and have to leave – that's tough."

Lois "Lo Lo" Shoolbred Raleigh family sees Alzheimer's ups and downs

The family initially allowed news cameras into their lives to shine light on the affects of Alzheimer's, he said, but the attention has also made Lo Lo a local celebrity.

A one-time entertainment producer for stars like Tony Bennett and an on-air TV personality in Charleston, Lo Lo seems to like the spotlight, her son said.

"A lot of people stop when we're Christmas shopping and say, 'There's Lo Lo.' And Lo Lo loves it, so I think it's a win-win," Dave Simpson said.

"It makes her happy and also brings a lot of awareness to the cause, which is what we want to do."

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  • loprestw Dec 20, 2011

    Wouldn't it have made more sense to spend 10 trillion dollars in research to cure Alzheimer's, diabetes, or some forms of cancer instead of bailing out rich union leaders or banks?
    Not blaming any party, just making a point.

  • vpo65 Dec 20, 2011

    Yes Raggy831..this is very true..you do experience two deaths. The last one is of course most final and seems to combine the pain all together. Also, in my case, we had to move things out of her house and a lot of our lives remained there and had to be boxed up..so I felt like that was like another death for me in a way. Stay strong and hold on as tight as you can for as long as you can.

  • mfarmer1 Dec 19, 2011

    My father has Alzheimer's it is sad that a once very smart man is reduced to a helpless man that has a memory of only a few mins.

  • barbstillkickin Dec 19, 2011

    I feel very sorry for this family but there are allot of families that go through this with a loved one. If they are so worried the this woman should be with family not with other people. She will get a lot worse so I will pray for her but not her family because they only act like they care. I had a family member with this is my Aunt stopped working so she could give her father in law constant supervision and it took a lot out of her but until his death he was never alone.

  • newstip579 Dec 19, 2011

    I'm an RN who visits Alzheimer's facilities regularly.Be very careful in your selection of a facility like this as most are understaffed with underpaid, untrained workers. The state doesn't do a good job of overseeing these places and state regs are inadequate - staff to patient ratio needs to improve -this is a difficult population with high acuity. Training of employees is paramount -the CEU hours are a joke. Whomever runs the facility should be a RN "extensively" trained in Alzheimer's. The list goes one - we can only hope.

  • raggy831 Dec 19, 2011

    I am going through this with my mother. Some one told me I would lose my mother twice. Once to the Alzheimer's/Dementia and then by death. I am finding this to be true. I agree that it is hard when she does not know her on family! If anything good is coming from her illness, we are learning things we did not know about her teen age years. Praying for anyone that has to go through this illness with there love one.

  • starshine Dec 19, 2011

    My mother died of a rare form of Alzheimer's (early adult onset) and passed away in her late 60's. This is the least merciful disease for loved ones to bear, as well as for the victim. Praying for strength for this family as they endure the hardship of this cruel illness.

  • tlwilliams1237 Dec 19, 2011

    Lo-lo is amazing by the grace of God. My dad is 90 and i thank god that iam not dealing with this siutuation right now. My happiness goes out to her and her family as well this story here couldn't be no better Christmas than the amazing story of Lolo...God Bless you all Merry Christmas

  • ceverly Dec 19, 2011

    Alzheimer's and Dementia are such devastating diseases. My grandmother is in advanced stages of dementia. She does not know any of her family and cannot put many thoughts together in a sentence that makes much sense. My granny was always very smart, witty, happy and very young acting. My heart goes out to any family going through this with a loved one.