It comes with great sadness to share the news about a popular musician's mother's diagnoses. We are asking our readers to pray for the family as they go through this hard time.
Many people might know what the Alzheimer's disease is generally about, but people confuse it with the term dementia.
What is Alzheimer's?
"Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks," according to the Alzheimer's Association.
What is Dementia?
"Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia," according to the Alzheimer's Association.
Alzheimer's accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of all dementia cases, and is not a normal part of the aging process. According to the association, approximately 200,000 American's under the age of 65 have early- (or "younger") onset Alzheimer's disease.
On Thanksgiving in 2016, rising country star Jay Allen saw a noticeable change in his mother when his parents arrived at his Nashville house. He was heartbroken and felt "helpless."
She didn't know who her one and only son was. Allen's mother has early onset Alzheimer's.
“She looked right through me, and it literally crushed me,” Allen tells PEOPLE.
“I’ve always been a fixer,” explains Allen. “If there’s a problem in the family, with my friends, whatever, I find a way to fix it."
"I’ve always been the solution-finder. But it was the first time when I was like, ‘I can’t fix this,'” the heartbroken son says.
The Temporary Fix
Allen knew he had to do something. Even though the situation was irreversible, he felt like he had to try something. Allen thought that he and his parents should hit the country-music town. Before they left, Allen got his mom "all dolled up" before they left his house.
The family headed down to Sutler, a saloon known for their live music and drinks. This is where things changed, and Allen noticed it.
“She heard the music and right away she started smiling and tapping her foot,” Allen says. “It was like the music woke her up.”
Allen's next move is bringing everyone to tears. He asked his mom to dance.
“We started dancing, the music’s blaring and she grabbed me and held me real tight, right in the middle of us dancing, and she took a deep breath,” Allen says.
“She pulled me real close. She whispered in my ear. She said, ‘Oh Jay. I missed you. I love you so much. I miss you son.’ She was like my momma. She was back for a second and I about lost it," Allen shares.
After weeks went by, Allen couldn't shake the heartbreaking incident with his mother. While drinking a cup of coffee one morning, he kept thinking about her blank stares.
“My faith is everything and I was just like, ‘Man. God is talking to me,'” Allen says.
“I just felt like He was saying, ‘Buddy, I gave you a voice. I gave you the talent to write songs, so write a song for your momma,’ Allen remembers. "It kept hitting me wave after wave like, ‘Write a song that’ll fight against Alzheimer’s.'”
“I was a newer songwriter and I was just like, ‘Really? You’re putting this on me?'” Allen continues. “But I couldn’t shake it. I remember walking around my house by myself just talking to God and crying about it. Finally, I was like, ‘I’m gonna do this thing.'”
“It’s crazy how you come and go so fast/Oh how do I get you back,” Allen sings. "I swear I still see you/Between the blank stares.”
Allen has helped raise over $20 million for the Alzheimer's Association by performing at events all around the country. When he performs in his parent's town in Iowa, he always invites his mother up on stage as he sings "Blank Stares." His mother is now in the later stages of Alzheimer's.
“I told my dad and my band, no matter where we’re at, no matter what show we play, even if it’s in a dive bar, we’re gonna sing this song,” Allen says. “This is my purpose — why God put me on the Earth.”
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