FARMINGTON – When Maggie Castonguay of Jay, a mother of five, didn’t know what to do with the granddaughter that she held in her arms, the family saw her frustration along with the other big changes they had seen in her.

Castonguay, born Marguerite Legere but known as Maggie, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when she was only 57. She died in May at age 72 after 10 years of nursing home care, her son, Marcel Castonguay, said Monday.

Castonguay’s family has a personal interest in making their family team, Forget Me Not or Ne m’oublier pas, successful in this year’s Alzheimer’s Memory Walk planned for Sept. 25 in Wilton.

The walk starts at Kineowatha Park and can be either two or four miles, said Joy Turner, scheduler for the nursing department at Sandy River Center where Maggie spent the past four years. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the walk at 9 a.m.

Four teams including Sandy River, Franklin Savings Bank, Forget Me Not and the Memory Keepers’ have already raised $2,625 toward this 20th Memory Walk, she said. All funds stay in Maine for research and to help provide some respite for caregivers. Teams and individual walkers are most welcome to participate.

Castonguay, a top fundraiser for his family team, remembers the stay-at-home mother who cooked, cleaned, baby-sat children all her life and loved to play piano, sing and dance. He also remembers the woman who struggled with forgetfulness, frustration, loneliness and confusion.

“It was sad when she started forgetting kids and the 15 grandkids. We were complete strangers to her,” he said, while explaining that she still seemed to enjoy them just being with her.

There was a twinkle in her eye when her husband, Andre “Andy,” came in to the room, even when she didn’t know him, he said.

She went into Parkview nursing center in 2001 and then was admitted to Sandy River the day after Christmas in 2006. Her husband would faithfully make the trip to the Farmington home everyday to visit and became friendly with the staff.

Marcel, his father, and sister, Noella have all suffered bouts of cancer during those years of nursing home care.  They have also become big supporters of Relay for Life, he said.

Along with the concern and sadness felt as the family watched the disease progress in their loved one, there was a financial hit for one diagnosed so young, Marcel said. He wanted to remember the cost for families trying to provide care for their loved ones.

With no insurance, his father had to sell their home within three years of her diagnosis, he said.  The costs were high during those 10 years along with the pain of watching the disease progress.

According to Maine Alzheimer statistics, someone is diagnosed with the disease every 70 seconds. Numbers are expected to continue increasing, while the number of caregivers has also risen within the last few years.

Sandy River not only participates in the annual Memory Walk but sponsors an Alzheimer support group for family and caregivers. It meets the third Wednesday of every month from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Franklin Memorial Hospital, said facilitator Alicia Swihart, chairwoman for the walk.

While the walk is a lot of fun, there’s also a lot of friendly competition and challenges made, Swihart said. Sandy River raised $500 Saturday from a duck race held in the river behind the nursing center. Swihart has an appointment Sept. 1 to have her hair dyed purple, if employees raise $500 in pledges by then. They are close and she’s expecting to appear in purple throughout September, she said.

For more information about the 20th Memory Walk or how to participate, pledge or support it, call Swihart at 577-9410 or visit

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.