Raleigh, N.C. — 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.
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.
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."
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."