Alzheimer’s walk raises funds for re­search, sup­port

Kent County News - - OPINION - By PETER HECK pheck@thekent­coun­tynews.com

CH­ESTER­TOWN —A rainy morn­ing in Wilmer Park couldn’t stop the third an­nual Ch­ester­town Walk to End Alzheimer’s Satur­day.

Carol Zim­mer­man of the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion of Greater Mary­land, which co­or­di­nated the lo­cal fundrais­ing ef­fort, said there were 30 reg­is­tered walk­ers, rep­re­sent­ing four teams. Walk­ers had a choice of two courses, along the Gilchrest Rail Trail and back, or around the park.

Zim­mer­man said there were a to­tal of 71 teams for the Eastern Shore, com­pris­ing some 500 walk­ers. The walk, one of more than 800 na­tion­wide, raises funds for re­search and to sup­port pa­tients and their fam­i­lies.

On the whole, the Eastern Shore walks raised $80,000 for the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion, Zim­mer­man said. In an email Mon­day, she wrote, “70% of the money raised by the walks stays in the chap­ter and is used for pro­grams and ser­vices.”

In an open­ing cer­e­mony Satur­day, par­tic­i­pants were given pin­wheel “flow­ers” to in­di­cate their rea­son for par­tic­i­pa­tion. Blue flow­ers were for those with some­one close to them cur­rently di­ag­nosed with the disease. Yel­low flow­ers were for care­givers, paid or un­paid. Or­ange flower were for Alzheimer’s ad­vo­cates. And pur­ple was for the mem­ory of some­one who died with the disease.

Gail Yerkie, di­rec­tor of the med­i­cal adult day care scen­ter at the Kent County Health Depart­ment, gave a sum­mary of Alzheimer’s statis­tics. More than 5 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are liv­ing with Alzheimer’s, she said, and it is the sixth lead­ing cause of death in the U.S. — killing more than pros­trate and breast can­cer com­bined. One in three se­niors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of de­men­tia.

In 2015, Yerkie said, more than 15 mil­lion care­givers for Alzheimer’s pa­tients pro­vided an es­ti­mated 18.1 bil­lion hours of un­paid care. Fam­ily care­givers typ­i­cally spend more than $5,000 an­nu­ally for the care of Alzheimer’s pa­tients.

Kim­berly Cox of Heron Point said the re­tire­ment com­mu­nity sent 10 walk­ers to Wilmer Park. Heron Point res­i­dents also gave sev­eral do­na­tions of $5,000 or more to the as­so­ci­a­tion, and Heron Point was a ma­jor spon­sor of the Ch­ester­town walk.

Heron Point has also sched­uled an Alzheimer’s con­fer­ence Nov. 1, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The 12th an­nual Up­per Shore Care­givers’ Con­fer­ence, which is free for fam­ily care­givers, in­cludes pan­els on man­ag­ing the be­hav­ioral symp­toms of de­men­tia and on le­gal and fi­nan­cial plan­ning for the disease. A con­ti­nen­tal break­fast will be served.

For more in­for­ma­tion, call the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion at 800-272-3900 or email info.mary­land@alz.org.

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