Couple creating special memories as wife battles Alzheimer's

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: September 29, 2020 10:53 PM

A couple from North Dakota is enjoying every moment they have together and aren't letting Alzheimer's get in the way of creating special memories. The couple planned a final road trip to Minnesota and Michigan to see the beautiful fall colors.


"Her and me, our love, we've known each other forever," said Mel Millsap. Mel and Lisa Millsap are couple who live in Karlsruhe, North Dakota. They met in middle school and have been inseparable ever since. They've been together for over 45 years.

"We had so much in common and she loved the outdoors, I love the outdoors. We’ve always traveled, me and Lis, we’ve always camped, we’ve always been very active so we continue to keep trying to do that," said Millsap.

Their love story is proof that love conquers all things, even through difficult times. It is what has helped them navigate their journey in life together and is also what has helped them navigate the Alzheimer's journeytogether since Lisa was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer's five years ago.

"We raised two kids together, we traveled the world, and we're not done, we're gonna keep fighting," said Millsap.

Mel has been by Lisa's side through her battle. He keeps her smiling, dancing, and also keeps her nails looking nice, but most importantly, he gives her the love and care she needs. Lisa’s Alzheimer’s has progressed this past year.

"For a while she was going to an adult day setting and he was able to continue working and she had some really nice routine with that, some really nice interaction with people. When COVID happened, they had to close that down so things have gone downhill for them," said Audrey Williamson, the Alzheimer's Association regional care consultant in North Dakota. She has worked with the couple for the past two years.

"She did well for quite a few years and within the last eight to 10 months its has definitely been progressing to where she's in a wheel chair now and she's needing more and more help everyday," said Millsap.

"They reached out to the Alzheimer's Association quite a few years back and received some care consultations. He has her best interest in every single thing that he does. He keeps her included in the plans of just the normal day and it's just so beautiful how he has kept her soul alive," said Williamson.

As Lisa is at the final stages of Alzheimer's, the couple is making the most out of their time together by creating memories and going on a final road trip to see the beautiful fall colors in Michigan and Minnesota.

"I go honey, you want to take a road trip? She said yep. She wants to go, she's games. If she's game then I gotta have that, said Millsap.

While they’re traveling they’re raising awareness on Alzheimer’s.

"There's a lot of people out there with this disease and they need support. We need to be there and we need to make sure things are as normal as we can and that’s why I keep doing these trips for as long as we can," said Millsap.

"It's so important that people know that they're not alone and that there are resources that are out there and the Alzheimer's Association is just a great first place to start to gather some of those resources and get the education about the disease," said Williamson.

As the Millsap's drive on the road, the car is decked out in purple for Alzheimer's awareness, sharing messages of hope with signs on the car that say "Love never forgets" "End Alzheimer’s" and "Lisa’s memories are worth fighting for." That’s something Mel said he’s committed to doing and will continue to do for the love of his life.

"I always tell everybody, she's the tough one. She really is. That's where I get a lot of my strength is just from her really. I’m going to fight and she is too," said Millsap.


Alejandra Palacios

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