ANNOUNCING THE WOMAN OF THE MONTH
Fort Worth women are making headlines daily as business owners, entrepreneurs, top management officers, and political leaders. So, here at Fort Worth Woman, we are selecting one of our city’s shining stars each month. These are the movers and shakers you need to know, and we are proud to honor their accomplishments as our WOMEN OF THE MONTH.
Program Director of the Alzheimer’s Association – North Central Texas Chapter
Audrey Kwik probably wins the farthest hometown yet as she was born in Dublin, Ireland, came to America in her early 20’s on a 10-month teaching contract, and is still here! As the saying goes, she wasn’t born in Texas, but got here as quickly as she could.
Audrey and her better half, Doug, have five wonderful children who she couldn’t be more proud of. “My youngest started college last fall and being an “empty-nester” was a huge change. I love the new relationship you get to have as a parent with adult children,” Audrey said, “we are at that beautiful point in our lives where our children are happy, healthy and thriving and we could not be more proud of all five of them.”
Eighteen months ago, Audrey’s father in Dublin was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Seeing the toll that Alzheimer’s takes on a patient in her very own family led Audrey to apply to the Alzheimer’s Association – North Central Texas Chapter where she is now the Program Director.
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month so in researching, we found a few astonishing facts about this disease. Alzheimer’s disease kills more than both Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer combined. One in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or Dementia and that number is continuing to rise. Alzheimer’s will most likely touch all of our lives in one way or another, and in her role as Program Director for the Alzheimer’s Association-North Central Texas Chapter, Audrey is passionate about ensuring our community knows the warning signs of Alzheimer’s and can get help for their loved ones early. Much can be done to improve the quality of life and slow the progression of the disease if it is diagnosed early.
What many people don’t know and what the Alzheimer’s Association is trying to educate to our community is that there tends to be a gender bias in regards to the diagnosis and effect of Alzheimer’s disease. Almost two-thirds of the more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women and more than 60 percent of caregivers are women. In the United States alone, 13 million women are either living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone who has it. This is absolutely a woman’s issue.
Why women are so disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s is unclear. Women generally live longer than men, but mounting evidence suggests that longevity alone may not account for the unequal Alzheimer’s burden women face. Emerging evidence suggests that the greater risk for women could potentially be due to biological or genetic variations, different life experiences (such as type and amount of education), occupational choices, or even the rates of cardiovascular disease. The Alzheimer’s Association is currently in support of a number of research efforts to advance the understanding of gender differences in Alzheimer’s and in 2016 they even announced the Sex and Gender in Alzheimer’s Grant Funding Program. This program provided more than $2.2 million in grants to nine different projects that were focused on advancing the understanding of the disproportionate effect of Alzheimer’s disease on women. We will one day find a way to stop this disease’s effect on not just the women in our lives, but the full effect on those in our community.
As women we also tend to fall naturally into the ‘caregiver role’. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s almost automatically brings tremendous challenges. To add to the challenge, an increasing number of women are caring for both an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s and raising children at the same time. Caregivers who are women also tend to experience higher levels of burden, depression, and impaired health than men. These are the moments when we need to look in our own circle and encourage our employees, co-workers, friends and relatives who find themselves in this situation to reach out to someone like Audrey to get the help and support they both need and deserve.
At the Alzheimer’s Association, Audrey works as the Program Director to offer a wide range of support services for caregivers and families affected by this disease. Truly, whatever support someone with or caring for a person suffering from Alzheimer’s is needing, they can provide or point you in the right direction. “I am also passionate about prevention…leading a brain-healthy lifestyle can prevent or possibly slow down Alzheimer’s”, Audrey states. Our local Alzheimer’s Association has many different education programs to keep your brain and body healthy as you age. As a parent, Audrey knows she won’t be able to be there for her children when they are dealing with their own old age, but there are things she can do to help ensure that they maintain brain health throughout their lifetime. The resources at our Alzheimer’s Association –North Central Texas Chapter are absolutely invaluable, available to all, and can be found in the heart of our city.
Even though she’s lived in Texas for a long time, Audrey’s family is relatively new to Cowtown so when asked what she loves about Fort Worth, Audrey gushed about the people that live here. “Fort Worth has everything you would want in a big city,” she says, “but the people have an openness, kindness and friendliness that you don’t find in other cities.” She continues to describe that in Fort Worth, the people you encounter in your everyday life, at the grocery store, and in your own neighborhood have retained that small-town, neighborly kindness as well as a genuine concern and desire to help. Audrey and her family feel very fortunate to be part of this kind community.
When asked what her word was to describe her impact as a businesswoman on this city, Audrey replied with ‘passion.’ Audrey is incredibly passionate about ending Alzheimer’s. “I am proud to work for an organization that is at the forefront of research to eradicate this disease,” she says. Alzheimer’s touches all of us and together we can contribute to the effort to find a cure.
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month! To learn more visit: alz.org/abam
The Longest Day is coming up on June 21st! To find out how you can take part visit: https://alz.org/tld
To learn more about women and Alzheimer’s, please click: