Coming home with my wife one cold and drizzly November afternoon in 1997, I found a new priority in life. Judy had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, for which there is no cure. From that afternoon to the present, my priority has been to educate the public on the nature of Alzheimer’s, how it affects the victim as well as the emotional and financial toll it takes on the families involved, especially the caregiver.
Alzheimer’s is the 21st century’s most under recognized health crisis in our country, and the statistics are alarming. According to the 2010 Alzheimer’s disease Facts and Figures, in 2000, there were an estimated 411,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease; by 2050 that number will escalate to 959,000.
More than 5.5 million (including 120,00 Hoosiers) have the disease and, according the 2010 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures report, that figure will rise to 7.7 million by 2030. Every 70 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s. By mid-century, unless we find a cure, someone will develop the disease every 33 seconds. Presently, one in eight people aged 65 and older (12 ½ percent) have the disease.
On Saturday, September 25 at Headwaters Park, the Alzheimer’s Association will be hosting its Memory Walk 2010. Registration will be at 10:30 a.m. with the walk beginning at noon. The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research and is dedicated to finding prevention methods, treatments and an eventual cure for Alzheimer’s. It offers a 24/7 Helpline (1.800. 272-3900), an award-winning website at www.alz.org plus a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service.
The Alzheimer’s Association also provides online resources that will help coordinate assistance from family and friends, locate senior housing, receive customized care recommendations and enhance care-giving skills. In addition, the association maintains a local office at 6324 Constitution Dr., 260-420-5547. The local office provides programs and services in Allen and surrounding counties. A Care Consultant is available to help families and caregivers on the journey of Alzheimer’s disease at no cost. It maintains a library devoted to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Hosting national and regional dementia care conferences for professional care providers and family care givers is also a priority. Finally, town hall meetings are provided for those with early-age dementia to provide a national dialogue about Alzheimer’s by people with the disease.
For these reasons, I urge you to form a team and support the efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association in sponsoring this Memory Walk on Saturday, September 25 by being an advocate for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Until a cure for this disease is found, we are all in this together.
John Homrig, volunteer
Greater Indiana Chapter