On Thursday, April 25, the Lincoln County Walk to End Alzheimer’s Committee held its Volunteer Kick-Off Party at the Troy Knights of Columbus Hall. Over twenty volunteers and committee members were in attendance, all from within Lincoln and Warren Counties.
The Lincoln County Walk to End Alzheimer’s is an important community event. It provides those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease (and other Dementias) to be recognized. This event brings to light the damage Alzheimer’s disease causes for ill-loved ones, their families and communities. Perhaps most importantly, the Lincoln County Walk to End Alzheimer’s offers hope and validation in that Alzheimer’s is very much part of life.
Over 5.5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease. There are over 200 forms of Dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms but isn’t much known about it. (In fact there’s very limited information about any disease and treatments of the brain.) The only thing known with certainty of Alzheimer’s disease is there is no cure for it.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive and often terminal disease of the brain causing symptoms that interfere with the ability to carry out daily activities.
In 2017 there were 2,545 deaths in Missouri from Alzheimer’s disease. To put this into perspective this is roughly the populations of Elsberry, Silex, and Eolia combined. What’s more is this number only accounts for those with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Those unaccounted for because of the inability to see a specialist. This can be due to lack of transportation, lack of payer sources, and lack of nearby resources. What hinders our ill-loved ones from good, quality care is the inability to afford the proper level of care.
It is important to note what we know about this disease is very limited but the support and education available are anything but.
Michelle Kitson, who is the Lincoln County Walk to End Alzheimer’s Chair, donates her time to the Lincoln County Walk because of her personal connection, stating, “I’ve lost five family members to Alzheimer’s. Most importantly, my grandmother. That’s when I wanted to become involved.” Kitson’s father-in-law lives in a Veterans home and has been diagnosed with Vascular Dementia. Tennessee Lady Vols Women’s Basketball Coach, Pat Summitt, died in 2016 due to Vascular Dementia.
When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease and its obstacles caretakers are especially significant. Chrystel Hudson, the Lincoln County Walk to End Alzheimer’s Co-chair, donates her time because of her Alzheimer’s patients and families. Hudson, a hospice nurse, states her personal reason is, “the patients I take care of. The families of the patients and the connection with them.” Currently, in Missouri, there are 317,000 caregivers who account for 3.6 hundred million total hours of unpaid care. Unpaid care, today, equates to over 4.5 billion dollars.
Kitson and Hudson return this year with the 2018 Lincoln County Walk to End Alzheimer’s under their belts. Kitson, looks forward to, “bringing more awareness to the entire county” and more participation through “…local involvement from residents, businesses.” Both Kitson and Hudson agree education is key in tackling this disease especially in rural communities. “It can no longer be the silent disease. It’s becoming more prevalent,” said Kitson. They encourage Lincoln County members to join in the fight against Alzheimer’s and to help find a cure.
The Lincoln County Walk to End Alzheimer’s is Saturday, October 12th, at Troy Middle School. To learn more about the Lincoln County Walk sign up at: act.alz.org and search for the Lincoln County Walk.
If you or someone you know may benefit from a local support group, you’re invited to an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group at St. Stephen United Methodist Church on the second Tuesday of each month from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. Address: 101 St. Stephen Ln, Troy, MO 63379. The support group is free of charge. (Support groups are highly confidential.)