Alzheimer's patients, caregivers, families honored in June

2018-06-10 | The News Courier

June 09--It's been more than a century since Alois Alzheimer first described his neurological findings to a meeting of German psychiatrists. It's also been more than a century since Emil Kraepelin named the discovered condition "Alzheimer's disease."

Medicine has come a long way in those years, but Alzheimer's remains the most common form of dementia, with 5.7 million Americans living with the disease in 2018 -- a number projected to rise to 14 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

To raise awareness of the disease and support for those affected by it, the Alzheimer's Association hosts Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month in June.

"The goal is to really increase awareness of Alzheimer's disease and, of course, our support services," said Brandi Medina, director of programs and education with Alzheimer's Association, MidSouth Chapter. "It surrounds our second signature fundraiser, which is The Longest Day."

The Longest Day will be June 21, which is this year's summer solstice.

"We chose that day because oftentimes, every day feels like the longest day for caregivers," Medina said.

While the event is primarily a fundraiser, the money raised does not have to be raised on that day. Medina said the first step is to start a team and pick any event you would like to do.

"Some do Zumba, some play bridge, some do a potluck get-together where everyone brings together a dish of Grandma's favorite food," she said. "It really just depends. Some raise funds with the event they are doing, and others do other small activities and then do an activity on the day (June 21) that reminds them of one they lost."

Kelsey Williams, manager of development for the Alzheimer's Association, MidSouth Chapter, the main idea "is to do what you love to honor those you love who have been impacted by this disease."

"Across our chapter in Tennessee and Alabama, we had black-tie galas, movie nights, lots of bake sales and lots of lemonade stands," Williams said. "It's a fundraising initiative, but the activity itself that they do on the day of doesn't have to be a fundraiser."

Williams said the North Alabama Forget-Me-Nots, a bridge club in Huntsville, had signed up to host a dinner and bridge event June 16, with a day of bridge games scheduled June 21. In Decatur, the Decatur-Morgan County Senior Center would also have a bridge event June 21.

Mad Malts Brewing and Brews and Brush will host a summer solstice celebration 5-8 p.m. June 21 in Huntsville to benefit Alzheimer's Association. According to a Facebook page set up for the event, the purchase of a ticket grants access to rock-painting, live music, participation or sponsorship in an origami crane activity taught by Ella Michael, and more.

Michael's goal is to raise $1,000 and fold 1,000 paper cranes before the Walk to End Alzheimer's in September. More on Michael's story and goal can be found at http://act.alz.org/goto/1000cranes.

"It's a really cool thing that brings people together and allows them to do something unique and that resonates with them to honor the people they love," Williams said.

As of Friday, no teams or events were registered in Limestone County for Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month or The Longest Day, Williams said. She and Medina encourage anyone who might be interested in participating to visit http://alz.org/tld, where they could start or join a team, find event ideas and even register as an individual participating without a team.

"Two people could love the same thing but their activities look totally different," Williams said. "... Sometimes we have people register on their own and they just want to go fishing or go kayaking."

Medina said the Alzheimer's Association also encourages families, churches, businesses and any other supporters or participants to "go purple" any day in June by wearing purple clothing or accessories. Those who go purple are also asked to share their photos with the Alzheimer's Association using #ENDALZ or #EndAlzheimers and by tagging @alzassocation.

Other ways to go purple can be found on the ALZ.org website. For more information on Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month, visit http://alz.org/abam.