Meet Kim Sanders-Willis: An Alzheimer’s Hero

Kim Willis with Alz signDuring Black History Month in particular, we want to take time out to highlight African-Americans who support the Alzheimer’s Association and people living with dementia. We value them always throughout the year, but want to take this opportunity to shine a light on all they do to help make the world a better place for people living with dementia and for their caregivers.

Kim Sanders-Willis on her experience

My introduction to the Alzheimer’s Association began soon after my mother Lorna was diagnosed with the Alzheimer’s dementia. Some years prior my father, John was also diagnosed with early stage as well. Kim Willis with mother

Watching my parents as they progress through different stages of the disease, I feel it is more important than ever to share my experiences with those facing the same situation. Creating more awareness in my community, the African American community is the least I can do. Unfortunately many people do not realize the great impact the disease actually has in our community. African Americans are at higher risk for having Alzheimer’s. We are two times more likely to develop late-onset than our white counterparts, and less likely to have a diagnosis of condition thus resulting in less time for treatment and planning. African Americans are the largest ethnicity to die from heart disease and stroke, twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and are at greater risk for uncontrolled high blood pressure which may increase our risk of getting Alzheimer’s and other dementias. I am a married mother of two and have lived in the Dayton area for over 30 years. After receiving a degree in Business Administration I pursued a career in marketing that has included positions in pharmaceutical sales, Long-term care and currently Senior Home Health Care.

I currently volunteer with Goodwill Easter Seals, Area Agency on Aging, The Alzheimer’s Association and Opening Minds through Art. Through these organizations I have been trained to lead and promote wellness for seniors and caregivers through workshops such as, Matter of Balance (Fall Prevention), Healthy U (Chronic Disease Management), The 10 Warning Signs (Alzheimer’s Education) and Opening minds through Art: Miami University Scripps Gerontology (Art Therapy). I also have helped advocate with legislators for more resources and support for people living with dementia and their caregivers.

Looking back I can’t imagine how I would have managed without the care and support of the Miami Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. I am so very grateful for the opportunities that have been provided to my family and for the inspiration to pay forward what we have received.

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