Every year the Alzheimer’s Association draws national attention to its cause to end Alzheimer’s disease with the national Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraiser. And Homewatch CareGivers is there every step of the way with a team of people to participate.
Carla Tressell, a software administrator who works at Homewatch International in Denver, did her third walk this year. Ms. Tressel’s own mother is afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease so it is a very personal and moving experience for her to be part of the walk.
“It was a beautiful sunny day,” she said of the Saturday in September when the walk was held in Denver’s City Park. “We were each given a pinwheel flower, with the different colors representing our relationship to Alzheimer’s disease—if we are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, if we had lost someone to Alzheimer’s disease, and so on.”
Ms. Tressel said it was a special moment when an estimated 6,000 people simultaneously raised the purple, orange, blue and yellow pinwheel flowers. “As we were beginning the walk, the flower expressed how each were affected by Alzheimer’s,” she said. “Then when we all held up our flowers it was a beautiful garden of everybody supporting the fight against the disease.”
Despite dealing with her mother’s diagnosis of the disease (“She kept repeating the same phrases over and over again,” she said of her family’s realization of Alzheimer’s disease.), Ms. Tressel found the 3.1-mile walk to be a happy experience.
“I felt that the mood was really upbeat,” she said. “There were a lot of people who care who came out to show their support. Even if there is no cure, hopefully future generations will be able to detect it earlier and slow down the progression of the disease.”
Ms. Tressel has since put her pinwheel flower in her garden as a reminder of that walk. “I remember the purpose of it,” she said. “It makes me think of Alzheimer’s even more each time I see it.”
National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is just around the corner in November. The purpose of a month devoted to this disease, which is sixth leading cause of death in the nation, is to raise awareness and funding for research.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has created a National Memory Screening Day during November to coincide with National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. “On one day we collaborate with hundreds of sites across the country to create one concentrated day with extreme focus on raising awareness of memory problems,” said Carol Steinberg, executive vice president of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. “We have expanded it because of increased demand.”
Homewatch CareGivers participates in National Memory Screening Day and offers the free, non-invasive tests at various locations.
“The tests are for people who have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease,” Ms. Steinberg said. “They are modeled after diabetes or blood pressure screenings. Most of our audience is older adults, but unfortunately there are people in their 30s and 40s who can develop Alzheimer’s disease.”
Memory screenings and fundraising walks are just a couple examples of the many resources available to people whose lives are affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
The Alzheimer’s Association website provides everything from personal stories to the latest research news on the disease.