Employee Profile: Jerone Wilder
By Jeremy Handel
Alzheimer’s. It’s a scary word and a difficult word for someone to hear. For many, it’s a diagnosis that strikes fear in the knowledge that you will fade from your loved one’s memory. For some it can be a call to action to fight for both your loved one and the loved ones of others.
Jerone Wilder, an area coordinator in the SMC community life department, chose the latter path when he learned of his father’s diagnosis.
“When I learned of my father’s diagnosis, I was shocked, and at the same time disappointed,” Wilder said. “Alzheimer’s is a life-changing disease that no one should have to battle alone. I was determined to learn more about the disease and help empower others to get educated.”
His father was diagnosed in 2019, although they discovered he had started experiencing the disease two years prior. The diagnosis, and Wilder’s mission to learn more and help his family, led him to the South Carolina Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, where he began to volunteer and learn.
Wilder said the decision to volunteer helped him to better understand his father’s condition and how he can help his father and his family through it. It also pushed him to get further involved to try to help other families facing the same situation. Beyond his own education, Wilder has gone on to become a certified community educator and support group facilitator for the organization.
“Recognizing that Alzheimer’s disease affects many families and hearing and reading stories from others motivates me to build positive relationships with other volunteers and professionals who have connections with the disease,” he said. He now leads presentations on the “10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease” to help others identify and prepare for a potential diagnosis in their family.
The work has helped him with his relationship with his father. He says he cherishes every moment he has with his father, who is doing his best to manage the disease. Wilder says his father is taking medication and has good days and bad days.
Wilder says the situation has also impacted his faith.
“As I have recognized, and continue to recognize, the significance of Alzheimer’s disease on my and family and on me, I value the necessity of daily prayer,” he said. “When this disease first impacts your life, it is easy to ask God ‘why?’ Instead, I have learned to ask God ‘how can I help?’ and ‘how can I become a better advocate for my father’?”
Wilder said he strives to put his faith in God to work.
He also works to bring the lessons learned from this experience to his life at SMC.
“I strive to approach my work at SMC as a way of serving the community,” he said. “I strive to ensure that my work touches the lives of others, no matter how big or small.”
Wilder said he will continue his work with the Alzheimer’s Association and continue to cherish the time he has with his father. He encourages others to do the same.
“It is important for others to know that once someone is diagnosed with this disease, spending time with them does not have to end,” he said.
He encourages them to get involved and reach out to others who have been impacted by Alzheimer’s. He also recommends they get involved with the Alzheimer’s Association by visiting www.alz.org.