Organizer and Program Leader for Chris’ ARK

Joan Lynn Talley, CRNA

Joan Lynn Talley, CRNAJoan Talley never dreamed she and her husband, Chris, would become time travelers, embarking on an emotional journey back to Chris’ childhood — or “Never, Never Land,” as she calls it.  But this became her reality in 1995, when Chris, the chief nurse anesthetist at Southeast, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 55.

As much as Joan was dedicated to her profession, in 1998 she reluctantly choose retirement to become a full time caregiver for her husband.  Throughout Chris’ journey back through the developmental ages, Joan gained a tremendous amount of knowledge in regards to the Alzheimer’s disease and care giving for the patient at home.  As the debilitating disease progressed, Chris’ mind regressed. Joan began giving her husband their grandchildren’s toys to stimulate, and engage his frightened mind, which reaped rapid results.  His mood improved dramatically and he was no longer pacing.  He had something to do. 

By reading dozens of books for caregivers, and speaking directly with Dr. Barry Reisburg and author David Shenk, Chris and Joan were able to create, within their home, the perfect comfort zone for the living and caregiving for Chris until his death in 2008.

Talley’s learning’s led to the creation of Chris’ Alzheimer’s Resource Kit, or ARK.  The ARKs are full of aides, toys, information and a DVD with serene aquarium and nature scenes, aimed at providing comfort and familiarity to the late-stage Alzheimer’s patient.

Joan comments: “I want others to have what Chris had.  If you’re going to engage the brain, you have to meet it at the level it’s at.”

Since its inception in October 2009, the program has sent out more than 400 kits to families affected by Alzheimer’s. The ARKs can now be found in more than 28 states coast to coast.

Donna True from the Alzheimer’s Association states “With Alzheimer’s disease, you see the patients’ minds going backwards, which is called retro-genesis.  Patients need stimulation at the developmental level their mind is at. That is why this kit is perfect.”

SoutheastHEALTH Foundation applauds Joan for her knowledge, commitment, dedication, and desire to help others, the “Forgotten” segment of our society, through their devastating “Journey” back to their childhood.   Thank you Joanie Talley!