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It was at the young age of 62 that complications from Alzheimer’s disease took Irene Y. Rianna from her loving family. The Smithfield resident and proud mother of three was known for her “zest for life”, a love of music and her expert skills as a seamstress. Her diagnosis at the age of 56 was a complete shock to her family and friends and they spent the next 6 years watching her slowly slip away from them due to the disease.
According to their website, her family vowed “to spend the rest of our lives honoring her and the amazing woman she was.” They decided the best way to accomplish this would be to create the foundation in her name awarding an annual scholarship to deserving Smithfield High School students and to continue to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Two close friends to the Rianna family, Smithfield residents Paul Harrison and Jeramiah Adler will undertake the The North South Bike Ride for the Irene Y. Rianna (IYR) Memorial Foundation. Harrison and Adler aim to raise $10,000 in her name at the June 3rd event. The grueling 77-mile North South Ride begins at Buck Hill Management Area in Burriville to Blue Shutters Beach in Charlestown. If you would like to sponsor their ride, contact Paul Harrison directly at (401) 479-7220.
The Memorial Foundation will also be hosting a Masquerade Gala Nov. 4 at Kirkbrae Country Club. More information about these events and how to contribute can be found on the Foundation website at www.ireneyriannamemorialfoundation.com or by contacting Kerri Rianna at (401) 258-4056.
The family’s website states helping others has been quite beneficial in grieving the loss of Irene “For the first time we feel as though we are doing something Mom would be proud of,” it reads, “Something that will help change the lives of others for the better, the same way she changed all of ours.”
National Alzheimer’s Association’s List of 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. While each individual may experience aging to a different degree, there are 10 warning signs and symptoms specific to the onset of this disease.
Memory loss that disrupts daily life
Challenges in planning or solving problems
Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
Confusion with time or place
Trouble understanding visual images
New problems with words in speaking or writing
Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
Decreased or poor judgment
Withdrawal from work or social activities
Changes in mood and personality
Learn more about recognizing these warning signs in yourself or a loved one at the National Alzheimer’s Association website at www.alz.org.