Mom, former nurse and Alzheimer's Association advocate who was diagnosed with the disease at 46 years old.
Sandra (Sandy) Oltz was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease in September 2010 at the age of 46.
Sandy graduated from St. Cloud State University in 1987 with a bachelor of science in biology and chemistry. Prior to her diagnosis, Sandy held positions as a post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) nurse and operating room admitting nurse at St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Sandy first noticed a change in her memory when she began to frequently misplace items at home, causing her to feel increased anxiety. Sandy’s work performance also began to suffer as she struggled to complete a training program for a new hospital-wide computer system. Sandy also began to notice that she was struggling to complete familiar tasks like remembering passwords and even her locker combination.
It took six months for Sandy to receive the diagnosis of younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. She underwent a battery of tests, including a MRI, PET scan, blood work and cognitive testing. Sandy’s husband, Rod, was present when her neurophysiologist shared her diagnosis. Initially, Sandy was relieved to know there was a reason for her behavioral changes but was soon overcome with the shock of receiving this diagnosis at the age of 46. Sandy immediately shared the news with family and friends and was comforted by their love and support.
Since her diagnosis, Sandy continues to share her story and spread awareness of Alzheimer’s through her involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter. Sandy is active in fundraising and community events, education and support groups, the early-stage Memory Club program and Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®.
In her spare time, Sandy enjoys various activities, including reading, supporting her teenage kids during their extracurricular activities and spending time with her family.
As a member of the Alzheimer’s Association 2013 National Early-Stage Advisory Group, Sandy has been active to educate the public about the stigma attached to Alzheimer’s and the unique challenges of living with younger-onset. She has shared her story during educational webinars and local media in addition to being featured, alongside her family on ‘Katie’, Katie Couric’s daytime talk show.
Sandy lives in Sartell, Minnesota and has three children, Briana, Jack and Charlie.