Over this past summer, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was at the forefront of people’s charity giving, however, other diseases like Alzheimer’s should never be forgotten. Around the country this weekend people attended Walk to End Alzheimer’s events. At these walks, there are never survivors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s is the nations sixth-leading cause of death, and there is no cure. In Des Moines, Iowa, 1,500 people participated in a 2.5-mile walk. The different walkers carried flowers in different colors to represent their connection to Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Less than 50 people carried a blue flower made of nylon and wire. These were the people who currently live with Alzheimer’s. People who had a connection to the disease, including caregivers, family members, and others somehow touched by the disease had purple flowers in remembrance of a loved one lost to Alzheimer’s.
In Merrillville, Indiana, 600 people showed up to the Hidden Lake Country Park on Sunday for their own Walk to End Alzheimer’s. A number of those in attendance at this event and others around the country walk to spread the news about patient and caregiver support available through the Alzheimer’s Association.
The disease is a tough source of suffering, not only for the person with Alzheimer’s, but to those around them too. Initially, people suffering from the disease cannot remembers the little details, and as the disease progresses, leading to a point where they will find they are not able to function in a normal way, and eventually can no longer care for themselves. Friends, family, caregivers are no longer recognized, and in rare moments of clarity, will have brief time where the disease is not caused memory loss or issues before it returns causing the patient to be a shell of who they were.
In the case of a patient with the disease, they may not remember an individual close to them and become frustrated, confused or slide into a state of isolation, When the patient is gone, it is a loss for the caregiver, who is no longer needed. This is especially tough for family members who have taken on the role and end up feeling forgotten or lost. One moment they are a caregiver, the next moment they are no longer the caregiver. Giving family members time off from the care of their Alzheimer’s patient is important to their own health and well being. It is not uncommon for a caregiver to give up their lives and jobs to helping a relative with the disease and returning to a normal life can be difficult.
It can be normal when caring for a family member or friend with the disease for them not to feel that they cannot leave the patient alone, even for just a few moments without something dangerous or deadly happening. However, these numerous walks around the nation hope to offer more for than just shedding a light on the disease and assist those who help those with Alzheimer’s.
In the United States, there are over 5 million people who are living with Alzheimer’s. Every 67 seconds another person develops the disease. One in three seniors in America will die with a form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Not knowing where they are or who is with them or who they are themselves is the horror of the disease.
While fundraisers that raise money and awareness for diseases like ALS, various cancers and other medical issues that are life changing or life threatening are important, people should never forget about dementia and join in with one of the many local Walk to End Alzheimer’s events. Contacting the Alzheimer’s Association is a very good source of information for family and friends of patients with the disease or a form of it.
By Carl Auer