September is world Alzheimer's month, and Cape Region residents will gather early next month to raise funds and awareness of a disease that afflicts nearly 26,000 in Delaware alone.
The annual Walk to End Alzheimer's is scheduled at Grove Park in Rehoboth Beach Saturday, Oct. 12, with check-ins starting at 8:30 a.m.
Organized by the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley, the Walk to End Alzheimer's typically draws as many as 500 walkers to raise funds for research, services and support for those who suffer from Alzheimer's as well as for those who care for them.
“We encourage prospective walkers to gather their friends, family members and colleagues and create a walk team and register their team online,” said Delaware Walk Coordinator, Jaclyn Adkins.
One of those walkers is 85-year-old Millsboro resident Lou Betton.
After losing her husband in a 14-year battle with Alzheimer's, Betton said she got involved in the Walk to End Alzheimer's in northern Delaware before helping to organize the Rehoboth walk in the late '90s.
Since then, Betton has become one of the top fundraisers for the association, last year raising $2,045 to become the third-highest fundraiser.
Raising money for prevention is important, Betton said, but she is most concerned with honoring her husband’s legacy and fundraising to help the association provide research, family assistance, training and help for caretakers.
“Prevention is wonderful, but research is most important because they don’t know what causes it,” she said. “Funds should also go to family caretakers because they need respite care too. Not everybody can get into a home.”
Betton cared for her husband the first seven years he was ill during the 1980s, when even less information and fewer resources were available. Betton said she took action after her husband went into a nursing home and hasn't backed off since.
“That is when I really got busy. Training needs to be done for caretakers. That is one of the most important things,” Betton said. “There is a certain way to handle people with Alzheimer’s.”
She said things really got hard when her husband started wandering and stopped recognizing her. Even after they moved into a gated community, she said he eventually had to go to a nursing facility; the nearest home was in Dover.
With more than 5 million adults suffering from Alzheimer's nationwide, the Alzheimer's Association estimates every 68 seconds; someone develops the degenerative brain disorder.
As the most common cause of dementia, the disorder primarily affects those over 65, however, nearly 200,000 of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are under 65, with some as young as 30.
Some organizations are, however, beginning to plug the gaps in care, with home-health services like Home Instead Senior Care providing occasional, daily or 24-hour services outside of a nursing facility.
Home Instead has offices in Camden, Del., and phone numbers for the Dover and Lewes areas.
Taking a proactive stand in the battle against Alzheimer’s and management of dementia, Home Instead will be offering a workshop in their Camden office on Saturday, Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The home-care agency also offers a free kit, called “Confidence to Care,” filled with tips and information to avoid accidents, relieve caregiver stress, handle difficult situations and encourage engagement.
In addition, Home Instead has also released a free smartphone application for Alzheimer’s and other dementia for family and caregivers to search behaviors and find solutions when they must react quickly to a situation.
Although more resources are slowly becoming available for patients, families and caregivers, as the population ages, the association only expects the prevalence to increase without more research and action.
For Lou Betton, that means keeping up with her fundraising and advocacy.
“They’ve come a long way since I started,” she said. “If people could give what they can to respect people with Alzheimer’s, for research and training, that for me is the most important thing.”
Walk to End Alzheimer’s
Check-in begins at 8:30
Saturday, Oct. 12 in Rehoboth Beach
Grove Park, 501 Rehoboth Ave.
Home Instead Workshop
Alzheimer’s CARE: Changing aging through research and education
10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28
Home Instead Offices
12244 Willow Grove Road, Camden
RSVP requested at firstname.lastname@example.org
For More Information:
www.alz.org, 800.272.3900 or
Home Instead, www.homeinstead.com; 302-645 8270