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By Daniel Ritz
On Sept. 13, Dana Point resident Bonnie Small was honored with the 2018 Alzheimer’s Orange County Visionary Women Caregiver Award. Small was one of eight women recognized. Four of the women were private citizens caring for family or friends, two were professionals and one award was presented to a teenage brother and sister duo for their care of their grandmother.
The award, recognizing caregivers for “exemplary commitment to compassionate care,” was awarded to Small for her care of her parents. Small’s mother was diagnosed 10 years ago with early onset dementia, her father three years ago at age 82. Small shared that her entire family network came together and that the care her parents are receiving is only possible because of their assistance.
“I am honored to receive this award, but it wouldn’t be possible without everyone around me that has supported me,” Small said. “I am grateful to Alzheimer’s Orange County for this award, but I am equally grateful for the awareness they are bringing of the impact that dementia and Alzheimer’s has not only on those suffering from symptoms, but the surrounding support network.
Small recognized that in each of the eight women recognized, there was a sense of humility and that they were not faced with any other options than to care for their loved ones.
“Everyone seemed to feel that this is just what they should be doing,” Small explained. “What we had to do.”
“One of the greatest lessons my siblings and I have learned from this experience of caring for my parents is that we absolutely cannot control the disease or the impacts,” Small said. “We can only control if our mother and father are happy.”