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Northeast Ohio family using mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis to find a cure in her honor

After the 2018 death of Adele Herzog, her family is is using their battle to bring support and awareness of Alzheimer's to their community.

CLEVELAND — One Northeast Ohio is making sure their mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s is never forgotten. The Herzog family is doing everything they can to keep their mother’s legacy alive while helping others going through the dreadful disease.

Bill Herzog lost the love of his life in 2018 after an almost decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s.

“With Alzheimer’s, death is going to happen at some point…but the person leaves you before they die,” said Bill.

Bill says he had a blessed life with his beautiful Adele. The two met in high school and Bill was smitten when he first saw her walking the halls.

“I was afraid of her, I was afraid to ask her out. She was too beautiful, there was no way she’d go out with me,” said Bill.

However, a drive-in movie led to quite the love story. A real-life storyline where the two would get married and go on to have three beautiful children, Julie, Bill and Jenna.

“She lit up the room, not only with her looks but her personality was number one. We had a great family life, the kids and myself…all very close together. We have three beautiful kids,” said Bill.

“We had the kind of mom who got us up every morning, made breakfast and got us ready for school,” said Jenna. “She was an amazing person.”

LIST: Resources available for families living with Alzheimer's and dementia in Northeast Ohio

In 2007 at the age of 55, Adele was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s. For the Herzog family, family trumps all. When it came to Adele’s diagnosis, that showed first-hand as the family cared for her around the clock.

“I was always hopeful that she would never suffer in pain and she never did physically… she was in great shape but unfortunately, this disease takes your mental capacity,” said Bill. “It was hard. I came home from lunch one day from work and the house smelled like natural gas. The stove was on but the flame didn’t light and that’s when I knew she needed more care.”

Bill retired early and quickly became his wife’s primary caregiver. He says the last few years were difficult at times, as caregiving is a 24-7 responsibility. The Alzheimer’s Association helped Bill in his journey to care for Adele.

Lindsay Walker is the National Director, Boards of Excellence at Alzheimer's Association. She understands the struggle of caregiving all too well.

“Once you get into a support group and meet others going through this …you really don’t understand what you are going through until you are really going through it,” said Walker. “There is so much support through the association.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 150,000 caregivers just like Bill in Northeast Ohio. Caregiving is a selfless act and support groups and programs offered by the Alzheimer’s Association are free.

Adele passed away four years ago at the age of 64. Her family never left her side.

“What I miss most about her is her laugh and her smile and I miss our talks and spending time with her,” said Jenna. “I miss her every day.”

The Herzog family is using their battle to bring support and awareness to their community. Bill serves on the board for the Alzheimer’s Association and he created the Herzog Foundation after Adele’s passing. During the summer of 2022, his foundation kicked off a Herzog Family Foundation golf outing where nearly $50,000 dollars was raised for Alzheimer’s research - all in memory of his Adele.

“I’ve had a blessed life with a great family and great wife," Bill added. "She got afflicted by this stupid disease and anything I can do to further resource and provide resources to caregivers anything along those lines. It is crucial.”

If you’d like make a donation to support the Alzheimer’s Association, click here. 

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