Walking to End Alzheimer’s

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BY STACEY PATTON WALLACE FOR THE OBSERVER 

AUBURN — 

Alzheimer’s — a frightening disease, which inevitably leads to death.

The disease has three stages: mild, moderate and severe. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s website, in the mild stage, “people experience memory loss, difficulty completing normal everyday tasks, and undergo personality and behavior changes.” 

In the moderate stage of the disease, “damage occurs in areas of the brain that control language, reasoning, conscious thought and sensory processing. Memory loss and confusion worsen, and people begin to have problems recognizing family and friends. Also, in this stage, people have trouble learning new tasks or carrying out multistep tasks. In addition, people may experience hallucinations, delusions and paranoia and may behave impulsively.”

In the severe stage, “people can’t communicate and have to receive total care from others. Near the end of life, the person may be in bed most or all of the time as the body shuts down.”

The statistics regarding Alzheimer’s are alarming. The Alzheimer’s Association’s website lists the following examples: 1. Alzheimer’s kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. 2. More than 6 million people in the United States have the disease, and 11 million people are providing unpaid care. 3. Between 2000 and 2019, deaths from Alzheimer’s have more than doubled. 4. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. 5. In 2022, Alzheimer’s will cost the U.S. $321 billion. This number is projected to rise to nearly $1 trillion in 2050.

Many families have been impacted by Alzheimer’s. During her 30-year education career, Brenda R. was a reading specialist, a pre-k director and an assistant director of Title I in Georgia. Fifteen years ago, she and her husband moved to Auburn to be near their children and grandchildren. Brenda R. lost her maternal grandmother, father and oldest brother to Alzheimer’s. Once, her brother managed to get out of his locked house and wandered out to the highway. Thankfully, he was found unharmed, but it was a terrifying experience for his wife.

“It’s hard to imagine anything worse than Alzheimer’s,” Brenda said. “Every 65 seconds, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with the disease. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in our country, and 96,000 people in Alabama have it.”

The Alzheimer’s Association’s “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” is the world’s largest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Kay Powell, the senior walk manager, is in charge of the eight walks in Birmingham, Auburn, Montgomery, Jacksonville, Mobile, Huntsville, Muscle Shoals and Tuscaloosa.

This year’s walk will be held in Auburn on Sunday, Oct. 23, at Auburn University on the campus green space close to the parking lot of Jordan-Hare Stadium at 500 Heisman Drive.

Registration will be at 12:30 p.m., and the ceremony and 2.5-mile walk will begin at 1:30 p.m. Powell said participants can register to walk right up to walk day by going to alz.org/walk.

As of writing, Powell said 175 people have registered to walk. One of those people is Brenda R., who will be walking with her team, Alpha Delta Kappa, which is a teachers’ sorority.

In addition, Powell said that people who wish to join the walk must be registered to do so. However, everyone in East Alabama is invited to come out to the event even if they aren’t walking.

During the ceremony, Auburn Mayor Ron Anders will speak. Also, an Army color guard from Auburn University will be posting the colors.

In addition, D.J. Ozz will provide entertainment, and the Tiger Rhythm Dance Team of Auburn University will perform. Powell said this will be a family friendly event; a kid zone and a pet zone will be provided.

All donations to the Alzheimer’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s are tax-deductible as allowed by law. According to Brenda, Alabama raised $783,837 last year.

Donations may be sent using the QR code in this article or by donating online on the Alzheimer’s Association’s website. In addition, donations will be collected in envelopes at the walk in Auburn on Oct. 23. 

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There hasn’t been an Alzheimer’s survivor… yet. Therefore, join the Alzheimer’s Association and help find a cure for this disease so that one day, there will be one.

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