Ears perk up when longtime San Diegans hear Del Mar resident Randi Kolender-Hock’s name. For those newer to the area, Kolender-Hock is the daughter of the former Police Chief and later, Sheriff Bill Kolender, who passed away of Alzheimer’s in 2015 at the age of 80. He was a force within law enforcement, known as much nationally as locally. But to Kolender-Hock, he was “dad.”
She recalls that he grappled with Alzheimer’s for about four years. “We noticed he was struggling with a neurological issue when he started to repeat the same stories, the same dialogue and then for the first time he had to have his speeches written out for him.” She well remembers when he was diagnosed.
“We were all beyond shock and were saddened as his new identity unraveled. We all sought answers; everyone in the family dealt with this blow in their own way. For me, it was a slow process to hold it all together.”
For as long as possible, his wife, Lois Kolender, kept him at home and then the time came when caregiving became so very difficult that moving him to a loving, warm and caring facility was the best option.
Near the end Kolender-Hock says she found comfort being involved with the William B. Kolender Sheriff’s Museum in Old Town. She’s especially proud that the Honorary Deputy Sheriffs Association named it after her father.
Hock-Kolender was very public about her dad’s disease when he passed. So, how is she doing now? After the shock passed and she could get on with her life with husband Paul and her children, she joined the organizing committee for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, taking place Sept. 9 at Crown Point Park on Mission Bay. She says getting involved with the Walk has given her an opportunity not just to learn more about the disease, but also to meet people who have shared the same experience.
“Sometimes you need somebody who’s been there. When you have experienced this kind of loss of a loved one, it creates an authentic perspective that can be shared to help others going through the same thing,” she says adding “it is 100 percent cathartic.”
When Hock-Kolender participated in her first walk it wasn’t just for her dad, it was for her grandfather, too, who also succumbed to Alzheimer’s. She says she has plenty of reasons to walk and encourage others to do so. She does it for family, both those they lost to the disease, and the next generation, who she hopes never has to endure the ravages of the mind-robbing disease. She wants to see more research, one that will lead to a treatment. Like anyone who has watched and stood by helplessly as a loved one descended into the depths of Alzheimer’s, she wants to see Alzheimer’s become a thing of the past, a footnote in history books.
To register or for more information on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, visit bit.ly/2uOvuxj
– Submitted by Alzheimer's Association, San Diego/Imperial Chapter