This past Labor Day, a special class of caregivers did not get a day of rest. HBO’s “The Alzheimer’s Project” shares that 70 percent of people with Alzheimer’s live at home, cared for by family and friends. 10 million Americans provide 8.5 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Those stricken with the disease eventually require round-the-clock attention.
Often described as “a long goodbye,” Alzheimer’s is an irreversible disease with no known cure. It erodes memory, changes personality and impairs reasoning… inside an otherwise healthy body. In general, those with Alzheimer’s live an average of 8 to 10 years after diagnosis, although that number varies from three to 20 years. “It’s not uncommon for the caregiver to die before the patient,” says Bill Couturié, who directed the HBO project.
The Alzheimer’s Association website shares statistics that may seem overwhelming. An estimated 5.4 million Americans live with the disease – a number that may triple by 2050 according to researchers. In Texas, 340,000 are living with Alzheimer’s, a number that may increase to 400,000 by 2020. One in eight people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s, as do nearly half of people aged 85 and older (43 percent).
This disease demands our attention. “We must make the fight against Alzheimer’s a global priority. It’s up to every one of us to learn more about the disease and join the fight,” says Marisa Ramon, Outreach Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association, Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter.
October 18: Making a Difference
Beyond the daunting facts, there is hope. Every year, people walk to support Alzheimer’s care, support and research. This “walk for a cure” is a memorial for loved ones who have died. It honors those living with the disease. Some walk to recognize a selfless caregiver. In short, every footstep has personal significance.
The Fort Bend Walk to End Alzheimer’s kicks off with registration at 8 a.m. on October 18 at Constellation Field. Each year over 700 walkers form teams with family, friends, coworkers, neighborhood groups, and churches. This “family friendly, elder friendly, stroller friendly, dog friendly” event raises funds and awareness.
On August 26th, Mayor James A. Thompson and the City of Sugar Land issued a proclamation in support of the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Walkers from Sugar Land, Katy, Cy-Fair and the greater Houston area join hundreds of cities across the globe in raising awareness for Alzheimer’s disease while encouraging citizens to get active in the ongoing battle against its rise.
Walk to End Alzheimer’s committee volunteers Helen Curd and Kerry Dannecker (pictured with Mayor Thompson) were on hand to receive the proclamation on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Association, Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter.
How to Get Involved
Visit www.alztex.org/walk for additional information on how to register for the Walk or make a donation. You can also contact Jennifer Giambi at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-314-1319 for more details. The Alzheimer’s Association is the center for help and hope. For care, support and local resources call the toll-free helpline at 1-800-272-3900.