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VOL. 128 | NO. 226 | Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Alzheimer’s Groups Paint Memphis Purple

By Michael Waddell

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November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, and the Alzheimer’s Association’s local chapter and assisted living facilities such as The Gardens of Germantown Memory Care want to paint the town purple to raise awareness about the deadly, irreversible disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association has local chapters throughout all 50 states, including a branch in East Memphis.

“As the regional office of the Mid-South chapter and part of the national Alzheimer’s Association, our mission is to raise awareness so individuals and families can know what’s normal memory loss and what’s not and be able to share with and support their friends and loved ones so they can be wiser in their care-giving,” said Susan Howe Crowson, director of programs and advocacy for the Mid-South chapter.

More than 5.5 million people are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the U.S., according to figures from the Alzheimer’s Association’s Mid-South chapter.

“Right now, in November and December, our focus is the impact of the holidays on the person with dementia and the family members so that caregivers can understand the peculiar behaviors that are normal and to help set their expectations in a reasonable place,” said Crowson, who stressed that the association does not provide direct primary care.

The local chapter conducts awareness events such as community education, open houses and corporate employee education year-round, and it has various events planned through the end of the year. The association hosts social events on the first Friday of each month. This month, it has held events each Friday, with the next being Nov. 22. (No event will be held Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving.)

“It’s strictly social networking for people to come meet us and see our resources and what we do here,” said Crowson.

Deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 68 percent between 2000 and 2010, while deaths from other major diseases decreased. The direct costs of caring for those with Alzheimer’s in 2013 are estimated at $203 billion, including $142 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid.

Upcoming Alzheimer’s Association caregiver workshops include “Having Happy Holidays” at Ave Maria Home and an Alzheimer’s Art Therapy Tour at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art on Tuesday, Nov. 19; “Conversations about Dementia” at Veterans Support Services and “Impact of the Holidays for the Person with Dementia” at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis on Wednesday, Nov. 20; and “Activities at Home during the Holidays” at Baptist Memphis on Wednesday, Dec. 18.

Crowson notes that the Alzheimer’s Association is available for support 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 800-272-3900 and at www.alz.org.

The group’s main fundraiser, The Walk to End Alzheimer’s, took place Sept. 30.

“We are encouraging teams and individuals that they can still make donations through the end of December for the calendar year towards their walk,” Crowson said. Last year, the walk earned more than $225,000 from nearly 2,000 registered walkers in Memphis and Jackson, Tenn.

“Earlier this month, Wesley Senior Living Communities received a purple plaque to honor its generous support of the Memphis Walk to End Alzheimer’s as presenting sponsor,” Crowson said. “Wesley Senior Living will host Alzheimer’s Association community education programs and support groups in 17 of the 22 counties that our West Tennessee regional office in Memphis serves.”

The association is also currently raffling off a BOB Revolution SE stroller identical to one used by Jack Fussell in his recent cross-country walk that raised $24,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association.

On Dec. 17 from 7 pm. to 9 p.m., the public is invited to the Painting with a Purpose event at Painting With a Twist in Germantown. Tickets are $35, and a portion of the cost benefits the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Painting With a Twist is very generously donating 50 percent of the registration fees to the walk. They will provide all of the supplies. It will be a fun, social time and a way for us to raise funds,” Crowson said.

Earlier this month, the association also partnered with Kirby Pines Retirement Community for a breakfast event, as well as with the Memphis Grizzlies for a Nov. 9 game at FedExForum in which a portion of ticket proceeds benefited the walk.

Next month, the Alzheimer’s Association will hold a First Friday event Dec. 6 and a holiday open house Dec. 13 to honor its numerous support group members and volunteers.

On Friday, Nov. 15, The Gardens of Germantown Memory Care assisted living facility put on its second annual purple balloon launch for Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.

“It’s a networking event for our residents, their families and industry professionals, as well as a way for us to create more awareness about Alzheimer’s disease,” said Lisa Bobal, marketing director at The Gardens. “Some of our residents actually launch the balloons, and they really enjoy it.”

The Gardens, which is about to celebrate its third anniversary, is currently home to 59 residents, all with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

“I think doctors are doing a better job diagnosing Alzheimer’s, and there are medications that can help to slow the progression of the disease,” Bobal said.

On Tuesday Nov. 19, the facility will participate in National Memory Screening Day, with basic Alzheimer’s screening tests to be administered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. by appointment.

“We will be able to tell people, based on their scores, whether or not they should be concerned and whether they should go ahead and make an appointment with a doctor, and then we will provide paperwork to their doctor,” Bobal said.

The Gardens holds workshops on the first Tuesday of every month at 1 p.m., with the next scheduled for Dec. 3.

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