Walking together: Father and son share Alzheimer’s journey

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – Chris McCullough, a longtime career and military man, was always focused. Until he wasn’t.

“He would repeat himself. We’d have the same conversation multiple times on a phone call,” said Eric McCullough, Chris’s son.

Three years ago Chris and his wife Joan went to Wichita Falls where he underwent multiple memory tests.

Three years ago Chris was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at just 53 years old.

“​​​​Who in the world would have thought I’d have this disease already this soon,” Chris said.

Although the disease’s symptoms were present to his family, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s still came as a shock.

“Whenever you think of people having Alzheimer’s or dementia you think they’re in their 70s, 80s, 90s, you don’t think they’re 53 when they get diagnosed,” said Eric.

The prognosis went on to alter Chris’s life: he had to step back from working – something he’s done since he was 17, move back to the U.S. after spending years overseas for his job, and was advised by his doctor not to get behind the wheel of a car.

“It really snapped in me when Joan and I had that conversation about driving,” said Chris.

The disease also strained parts of Chris’s relationship with his family.

“There’re things that I can’t ask for my dad to do or things he used to be able to do because I know it’s too difficult,” said Eric.

However, Chris and his family were not content to let him fade away. The family sought local support from the Alzheimer’s Association of Abilene after Eric heard about it in passing at work.

They began attending support groups and meetings in addition to bringing Chris on family outings to the movies, parks, and his grandchildren’s sports games.

“We here at the association, the staff have the heart for people and want to support them and help them navigate this disease,” said Kristin Bishop, regional director of Alzheimer’s Association of Abilene.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d be going to one of [those meetings] but you just got to take the cards you’re dealt and head forward,” said Chris.

Although not every day can be perfect, Chris and his family find small victories every once in a while.

“He’s very proud of the fact that he knows when his show comes on” said Eric.

“And that I can remember it,” said Chris.

The Alzheimer’s Association of Abilene can be reached at 325-672-2907 or at it’s office at 301 S Pioneer Drive in Abilene.

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