Lake Stevens woman honors mother with Alzheimer’s walk

LAKE STEVENS — Jenifer Phillips’ mother loved to celebrate holidays. She was a seamstress and a Beatles fan. She was also a fighter.

Patty Brovold-Carlyle died of complications from Alzheimer’s in 2013, and Phillips plans to honor her mother by participating in the 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Everett on Sept. 7*.

The walk raises money for Alzheimer’s care, support and research, and it won’t be Phillips’ first time supporting the cause.

Brovold-Carlyle grew up in Edmonds and Everett, graduating from Cascade High School in 1966. She raised three daughters and was known for being meticulously neat, strong and loving.

In her early 40s, Brovold-Carlyle returned to school and received a medical assistance degree from Everett Community College. She worked at Group Health for many years until she became ill.

When Phillips’ then-57-year-old mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, Phillips was 24. Brovold-Carlyle was partially cognitive when she moved into her first Lynnwood care home, but her mental state quickly deteriorated.

“Within two years her mind was completely gone,” Phillips said.

When Brovold-Carlyle became abusive of other patients, she was hospitalized at Western State Hospital in Steilacoom. After several months there, she was transferred to Bright Adult Family Home in Lynnwood.

“She didn’t know who we were for four to five years,” Phillips said.

After several years in her second home, Brovold-Carlyle’s physical health declined and she was again hospitalized. This time she couldn’t talk, feed or bathe herself.

The doctor told the family she only had two weeks to live.

“Every time we saw her,” Phillips said, “we had to say goodbye.”

Brovold-Carlyle lived another year and died on May 18, 2013, after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million people live with the disease — 97,000 of them in Washington. There are 200,000 people younger than 65 who have early-onset Alzheimer’s. A woman in her 60s has a 1-in-6 estimated lifetime risk for developing Alzheimer’s. For breast cancer, it’s 1 in 11.

By 2025, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates, 44 percent of seniors will have the disease.

“She just kept fighting it,” Phillips said of her mother.

“We hope that her spirit was actually gone during those last years,” Phillips said. “I can’t imagine living like that for so long.”

Today, Phillips lives in Lake Stevens with her husband and two children. Although Phillips’ mother is deceased, her image is a daily presence through old photo albums and even Phillips’ children.

Her daughter “looks a lot like my mom when she was a baby,” Phillips said.

The 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Snohomish County begins at 8 a.m. on Sept. 7. The short route is 1.5 miles and the long route length is 2.5 miles. To donate, go to http://www.alzwa.org/.

Correction, July 14, 2014: This article and headline originally included an incorrect date for the walk.

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