Fatima Devine met her husband of 44 years, George, at a URI campus party when they were freshmen. He was the cute rock musician, she recalls, but also easy-going, kind, and generous; it was these qualities that defined their relationship. He encouraged Fatima, at age 55, to start taking Zumba classes, and accompanied her to training in Boston when she decided to become an instructor.
“I have been teaching Zumba ever since, and realize that was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” says Fatima. “It keeps me in good shape physically, and even more importantly, is great for managing the stress of coping with George’s Alzheimer’s.”
George, a retired musician and teacher of 30 years, was recently diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Fatima’s transition into the role of caregiver hasn’t been easy; she recounts the stress and exhaustion that comes with not only the physical symptoms of the disease, but the many medical appointments and tests that follow.
“My experience has been positively affected by George’s continued easy-going nature, as well as his commitment to doing everything he can to fight this disease,” says Fatima, detailing his participation in clinical trials at Rhode Island Hospital as well as a healthy diet and exercise routine. She adds, “We both also use humor to deal with everyday stressors, which is an essential stress management tool.”
On June 15, Fatima will be using her love for Zumba to honor her husband and those affected by Alzheimer’s through a special class at Sandywoods, which Fatima says has generously waived the rental fee and is assisting in the event’s promotion. The beginner-friendly class will be followed by tea and pastries and a raffle for fun prizes. The money raised will go towards Fatima’s participation in The Longest Day, a global fundraiser to advance the care, support, and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.
“Today, over 35 million people across the world are living with Alzheimer’s, including more than 5 million Americans,” says Fatima. “In the US alone, more than 15 million caregivers generously dedicate themselves to those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.” She urges, “Together, we can show those facing Alzheimer’s disease that they are not alone.”
For more information, register to attend, or give a donation, visit here.