Great strides are being made every day in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Earlier this year, a team of scientists at the Gladstone Institutes made a huge breakthrough. They discovered the cause of — and a potential solution for — the primary genetic risk factor for the disease.
Some great strides were also made on Sunday, October 14th, when Senior Planet staff, members, and volunteers participated in the 2018 CaringKind Alzheimer’s Walk in New York City. The goal? To help raise $1 million, as well as raise awareness and funds for programs, services, support, and care for New Yorkers with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias … as well as for their family members, caregivers and professionals.
Lucy Dewart, a Senior Planet volunteer, says this year’s walk was especially meaningful to her because she and her sister recently moved their mother from home into memory care.
“It is a very important cause because it takes away the person we know and love while they are alive and creates a lot of healthcare needs and expenses,” Lucy says. “Even in residences where there is what is called cluster care, often there are not enough caregivers to do the work that needs to be done, which is exhausting and unfair to the workers but also can create negligent care for our loved ones.”
The walk also had deep meaning for Fiona Adams, Program Lead of OATS and the walk’s Team Captain. She helped take care of her mother, who had Alzheimer’s, for almost 10 years.
“I know how tough it is,” Fiona says. “This cause is so personal to me.”
Lucy and Fiona were joined by the always-spirited Senior Planet member Marietta Hawkes, 76, who did the walk with the help of her walker.
“This was my first walk for any charity,” says Marietta Hawkes, 76. “The energy was great — the people were upbeat,” Marietta says. (She also admits that the event’s catering — which included plenty of bagels and cream cheese — was also a draw.)
In the relatively short time that it took to complete the walk that Sunday, dozens of people across the country developed Alzheimer’s. That’s because every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops the disease. The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s — which is currently 5.7 million — is projected to increase to an alarming 14 million by the year 2050.
Fiona says Senior Planet plans on walking for the cause again, and emphasizes that their support doesn’t stop at the finish line.
“Research shows that a lifestyle that includes regular exercise, mental stimulation and social engagement can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” she says. “In this sense, the programs we offer at Senior Planet support the cause every day. I’m really excited about participating in future walks and getting even more staff and members out to walk with us.”
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Want to get involved in a cause, too? The Senior Planet Exploration Center in New York City is closing for the day on Nov. 1 for a day long phone bank event to help get out the vote. There may still be spots available; call (646) 590-0615 for more info.