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The Life Changer Known as Alzeheimers

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James Barnes, 86, waiting to leave for adult day care on Friday morning. He has Alzheimers disease and can no longer care for himself.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, behavior, and thinking. Nearly 44 million people have Alzheimer’s or related dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Today, Alzheimer’s is at the forefront of biomedical research.

James Barnes, 86, of Linden, North Carolina was diagnosed with dementia in 2011. He had already had a history of heart problems since early 2005. The dementia diagnosis only added to his rocky medical history. When James was diagnosed with dementia he was at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina being treated for congestive heart failure. It was not until he began to make confusing statements that doctors decided to test James.

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James Barnes, 86, in Fayetteville, North Carolina was doing his hand excercises for the day.

Since his diagnosis, James has been living with his youngest daughter, her husband and their four children. To keep his health, memory, and sanity in check, James takes several prescription medications. He takes medicine in the morning and at night. His diet consists of no salt.

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James’ medications for the week.

One of the challenges of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s is the sudden mood changes.

“One day he is completely calm and the next day he can be very irritable. It all depends on how effective the medicine is, his daughter Christina Pennie said.

James does not know that he has Alzheimer’s. He believes that he is a young boy and still lives with his parents.

“Pa taught me everything I know”, James Barnes said.

Elderly people with Alzheimer’s find joy in being around small children.

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James Barnes and his great-granddaughter Destiny sitting on his bed enjoying a relaxing night at home.

“He really loves to play and laugh with his great granddaughter. She keeps him alert and smiling”, Christina said.

Each day is a challenge in the life of James Barnes but with the help of his daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren he will be celebrating 87 years of life on April 20, 2016. Alzheimer’s alters a person’s life as it progresses.

We just take each day one step at time, that’s all we can do”, Christina said.

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James recieving his night medication from his daughter Christina Pennie, alongside his great-granddaughter Destiny.

Young Woman Finds her Father on Facebook

DSC00276Rebecca Gordon, 22, of Spring Lake, North Carolina, looking on Facebook, at the first picture she took with her father, John Pennie, in 2013.

  Rebecca Gordon, a native of Spring Lake, North Carolina, spent 20 years of her life, without a father. That is 20 years of growing, laughing, and loving. At the tender age of 13, Gordon became interested in finding her father.

“I went to my mother and I asked her who my dad was, what did he look like, where is he from”.

Gordon said that her mother could never give her a clear answer. She even tried searching for him on ancestry.com. She didn’t get any hits. As a result, she was left with only dreams of what her father could have been like. After several failed attempts with her mother, Gordon gave up on trying to find her father. Seven years later, at the age of 20, Gordon received some very exciting information from her mother, it was her father’s name.

“I just remember feeling excited because I was step closer at finding him”, Gordon said.

At the time, Gordon’s mother had just created a Facebook page. She said that this was another door opened for her to take advantage of. Gordon logged in to her mothers Facebook account and began searching for a man by the name of John Pennie.

The search didn’t take long, she found a man named John Pennie, showed the photo to her mother, and to her surprise, he was the man that her mother said was her father.

“I had to build up the courage to send him message, because it just seeing his picture wasn’t enough”, Gordon said.

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John Pennie, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, playing outside in front of his home, with his grandson Miles.

The message read: Hi. My name is Rebecca. My mom’s name is Debra Brahnam. I wanted to reach out to you because I think you are father. Did you work for Pepsi Cola in 1992? If so then you are definitely the man I have been looking for. I have a son, Miles, he’s 3 and we would love to meet you in person. Please get back with me as soon as possible. Thank you.

Gordon waited for days before she finally received a response from John Pennie.

“It was not a surprise to me. I always knew in the back of my mind that I had a child. Her mother and I lost connection with one another so I never knew what happened, “Pennie said.

DSC00274John Pennie, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, sitting on a couch in his home, alongside his daughter Rebecca Gordon of Spring Lake, North Carolina.

On June 13, 2013, Gordon met her father for the first time. It was obvious that she belonged because it was if they were looking in the mirror.

DSC00271John Pennie, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, joking around with his daughter, Rebecca Gordon, of Spring Lake, North Carolina.

“She has my nose, it’s a very distinctive feature that all my children gained from me”, Pennie said.

Gordon was residing in Louisiana before she met her father, today she lives in North Carolina where she be close to her father and her new family.

“Family is everything to me. I want to be close to my dad and I want my son to have his grandpa close by. That’s important,” Gordon said.

DSC00269John Pennie, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, swinging his grandson Miles, of Spring Lake, North Carolina, with the help of his daughter Rebecca, of Spring Lake, North Carolina. The three were enjoying some fun in the sun together.

Gordon said that she knew all along that she was different from her other siblings. She had different hair, and different mannerisms. She knew she had to find her father, so she could compare herself to him. It turns out, they are just alike. Now, Gordon has a father, and Pennie has a new daughter. On April 12, 2016, Gordon will celebrate her birthday with her father for the first  time. They will celebrate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with family.