HONOLULU (KHON2) — “This walk is also to honor my dad, his life as well as the many others that are going through or have passed due to Alzheimer’s,” says Naomi Suto.
Naomi Suto cared for dad, a retired Navy Seabee, for 7 years. She noticed the early signs of Alzheimer’s after he drove off in his truck and returned home without it.
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“We said dad, where’s your truck? He couldn’t remember where he went, and he couldn’t remember where his truck was. That’s when we knew something was terribly wrong,” recalls Suto.
Suto cherishes the moments she shared with dad especially when going to Sam’s Club.
“Buying bananas was the highlight because he would like to count the fingers on the bananas and making sure he got the most. He wanted the one with ten fingers. We would spend minutes there counting each hand of bananas. It was the simple things that I just cherish,” says Suto.
It was her way to honor dad, who for years provided unconditional love to his only daughter.
“Once when I really messed up, I remember his words. You’re my daughter, you’ll always be my daughter. This was profound because my father didn’t share his emotions very often. So, when he started forgetting who I was and he longer recognized who I was, I had to hold on to those memories,” says Suto.
Dad lost his battle against Alzheimer’s on Veterans Day in 2019. But Suto continues to walk for a cure because she’s also at risk.
“I had myself tested and found that I had one of four markers from Alzheimer’s. That doesn’t mean I have Alzheimer’s, but there’s a chance that I could get it,” says Suto.
In Hawaii, nearly 100,000 residents are impacted by the disease. Suto recommends reaching out to the Alzheimer’s Association.
“They gave me some resources. At that time, they had classes that were terrific. I was able to meet with others who were going through similar circumstances with their loved ones,” says Suto.
Suto also offered this advice to caregivers.
“Pray for strength, take it one day at a time and remember the hard times will not be forever, it will pass. Cherish the time you have with them, cherish their smiles and laughs, and keep up the good fight,” says Suto.
For more information for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Oahu, visit https://www.alz.org/hawaii