Lo Lo's story

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Have you ever known someone with Alzheimer’s? Last Friday was my first time meeting someone with this devastating disease. I had an opportunity to go with reporter Cullen Browder and photographer Greg Clark as they interviewed 80-year-old Lois “Lo Lo” Shoolbred, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and her son, Dave Simpson.


This Wednesday, on WRAL’s News at 6 p.m., you’ll get to meet Lo Lo and Dave and see their amazing story. Dave has agreed to write a blog on WRAL.com and chronicle his mom’s struggle, in the hopes that it might help someone reading it. His blog, “Life with Lo Lo,” debuts Wednesday, and I think you’ll find it honest, touching and informative.

In the meantime, I have a slideshow of behind-the-scenes pictures from our interview with Lo Lo and Dave. I also asked Cullen to share some details about this story, how he got access to this family’s personal struggle and how it affected him. You can read Cullen's account below:
WRAL reporter Cullen Browder smiles as he listens to Lois "Lo Lo" Shoolbred.

I know Dave Simpson through stories WRAL has done on the construction industry. He’s a Raleigh-based lobbyist for general contractors. One day, he called me about a totally different story idea that was very personal to him. His mother, 80-year-old Lois Shoolbred, lives with Alzheimer’s disease.

As a former reporter himself, Dave is a communicator who saw the value of a story about her life, her struggle, and her family’s struggle with the memory-snatching brain disease. He displayed an enormous amount of courage in offering us access because the story is sad. It’s embarrassing.

Dave and I spoke at length about the sensitivity of a very personal matter. We don’t want to exploit a woman caught up in the grips of her illness. But it’s also very real, especially as medical and population statistics show the disease will reach more and more families.

We both truly felt it would resonate with families who are dealing with or will endure the pain and challenges that go along with caring for a loved one with dementia. Much of our first story is dedicated to introducing everyone to Lois, affectionately known as Lo Lo.

She has led a remarkable life as a successful career woman and mother. Her rich personality comes through, despite the effects of Alzheimer’s.

Our story on Wednesday will be the first of several about Lo Lo and the growing struggle with the disease. From health and medical issues to financial to emotional challenges, we hope the stories will provide many families with hope, support and education. I can’t explain how much getting to know Lo Lo and her family has educated and moved me.

Thanks to Cullen for sharing this information. I hope you’ll watch his story Wednesday on WRAL’s 6 p.m. news. Feel free to share your Alzheimer’s stories below and how it has affected your family or friends.

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