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Alzheimer’s Disease and Hope in Numbers

In visiting the New Braunfels Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease Oct. 13, one couldn’t help coming away with a sense this disease will be contained if not eradicated in the not-too-distant future. Everyone the GVEC Review spoke to had grieved or was in the process of grieving someone with Alzheimer’s Disease. This fact, however, did nothing to dampen a collective spirit of hope and an obvious determination that lingered among attendees.

Coordinated by the Alzheimer’s Association of South Texas, the New Braunfels event was one of over 600 walks held in communities across the country, mostly from September to October.

Support for Alzheimer’s Disease Caregivers

Tammy Johnson of TJ’s Photography, New Braunfels, who snapped event photos, waited years after the end of her mother’s Alzheimer’s journey to get involved in the walk and regrets it. The Alzheimer’s Association, coupled with events like the walk, she explained, provide a sense of support that seems unattainable while assisting a family member with the illness. “Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can make you feel extremely isolated,” she said. “[The walk] really makes you realize you’re not alone.”

Terrence Griffin, RN, director of marketing at Hacienda Oaks Nursing & Rehab, Seguin, served as logistics chair for the 2018 New Braunfels walk. According to Griffen, feelings of isolation aren’t uncommon among Alzheimer’s caregivers. Becoming involved with organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association, Griffen added, is indeed a great way for caregivers and family members to find support and purpose in the Alzheimer’s journey.

Alzheimer’s can Affect Generations of Family

“This disease has taken so many people in our lives,” said GVEC member Hannah Ruiz of Seguin. “We want to find a cure because we’re tired of losing our family.”

For Ruiz and her mother, Yolanda Ruiz—also a GVEC member from Seguin—Alzheimer’s Disease has developed into a generational adversary. Numerous other family members accompanied the two women. They had erected a memorial to Yolanda’s mother and her mother’s four siblings, all of whom suffered from the disease.

Ruiz encouraged GVEC Review readers to do more than just become involved in the Alzheimer’s Association. She also encouraged them to call (800.272.3900), email, and/or contact the Association via its website (alz.org) and request they bring an Alzheimer’s walk to Seguin.

Local Support for Alzheimer’s Disease

Opal Umpierre, RN, clinical liaison at Hope Hospice, New Braunfels, welcomed GVEC Review readers with questions about Alzheimer’s Disease to visit the once-weekly support group at the First United Methodist Church of Seguin. “We meet every Tuesday at 10 a.m.,” she said.

“It’s open to the public and everyone is welcome. This group is a great resource for caregivers or family of current patients. Or it’s a great place to start if you think you’ve got a loved one with Alzheimer’s but aren’t sure.”

The Alzheimer’s Association reported a total of 550 participants for the 2018 New Braunfels walk. A final fundraising total wasn’t available at press time, but the 2018 New Braunfels walk was projected to raise around $90,000 (donations were accepted through Dec. 31, 2018).

Seventy-seven percent of the money raised at local walks like the New Braunfels event stays in the region. The majority of the money raised helps care for and support local patients and families. The money also supports awareness and advocacy efforts and Alzheimer’s research right here. Although many strides have been made in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease in recent years, including a vaccine that recently showed promise, much work remains in understanding and containing this illness.

The Alzheimer’s Association of South Texas is continually looking for ways to invest proceeds into local communities, too. To that end, in January, the Association will hold a number of Alzheimer’s public forums to identify what people affected by the disease need in terms of support. One of these will be held in New Braunfels.

More Local Alzheimer’s Support

Besides the Seguin support group mentioned above, a number of other organizations in or near GVEC’s service territory hold regular Alzheimer’s and dementia support and education groups. All are open to the public. These include Autumn Winds Living & Rehab, Schertz (210.658.6338; third Saturday each month at 10 a.m.—Jan. 19); The Legacy at Forest Ridge, Schertz (210.305.5713; second Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m.—Jan. 8); New Haven Assisted Living and Memory Care, Schertz (210.319.4965; last Wednesday of the month at 10 a.m.—Jan. 30); Eden Hill, New Braunfels (830.625.6291; third Wednesday of each month at 12 p.m.—Jan. 16). Rio Terra Senior Living, New Braunfels (830.221.4800; first Tuesday each month at 10 a.m.—Feb. 5); Élan Westpointe Assisted Living and Memory Care (830.483.4900; first Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m.—Jan 2).

The Alzheimer’s Association of South Texas has a number of on-staff and volunteer “facilitators” who are trained in helping community members start Alzheimer’s support groups in their local neighborhoods.

More Information

For more information on the Alzheimer’s Association of South Texas or if you or someone you know is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or might be, call 800.272.3900 or visit www.alz.org. You can also call or log in to join the fight.

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