Community support is vital for Alzheimer’s walk Sept. 28

September 15, 2019

Wendy Biggs, clad in a purple T-shirt emblazoned with the words Wendy’s Warriors, is passionate about finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Before she left Massachusetts and retired to her home in Independence three years ago, she watched a dear friend spend seven years dying of this disease. Her team of 35 neighbors will be one of the 80 teams and 400 participants taking part Saturday, Sept. 28, in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Rehoboth Beach.

“It’s wonderful to have my community’s support,” Wendy beams. “It means the world to me.”

Jody Trinsey is the Delaware/South Jersey walk manager for the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter. “Our organization estimates that 19,000 people in the state of Delaware have Alzheimer’s, and there are 50,000 caregivers. More and more seniors are retiring to Sussex County, and the need for treatment centers is rising rapidly,” he said.

Several years ago, my AAUW book club was discussing the 2007 book “Still Alice,” written by Lisa Genova. The book is about a 50-year-old woman’s struggle with early-onset Alzheimer’s. A film adaptation debuted in 2014.  

During our discussion, our friend Pat revealed that her husband, Jim, was showing signs of the illness. We didn’t know what to say or how to support her, but we asked what we could do to help. She wasn’t certain how to answer us at that time.

Since Jim’s death in May 2018, Pat has had time to reflect on her experience: “When your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, it is the disease that frustrates you, not the person. Tell your closest friends what you need in terms of task and time. Tell them they need to give you a big hug every time they see you, because you won’t think to ask for one. It helps when you don’t have to ask.”

Wendy Biggs, who worked in healthcare most of her life, agrees. “Caregivers need help. Sometimes patients can stay at home longer. Women are three times more likely to get this disease, so the husbands are the ones who are in pain. Often, children don’t want to see their mother that way, and they too need guidance on how to help.”

Wendy suggests people contact Swank Center for Memory Care and Geriatric Consultation in Wilmington for screening. Dr. James Ellison is leading a team of experts to help families learn to cope with the disease. People regularly go the dentist, the eye doctor, and their regular doctor, so why not have their memory checked once a year? The center’s phone number is 302-320-2620.

The Alzheimer's Association is one of the largest nonprofit voluntary health organizations in the U.S. It is dedicated to accelerating progress in prevention, cure and living with Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's Association is incorporated as a single 501(c)(3) entity.

Schell Brothers has challenged all of its communities to join the efforts to raise funds to fight this devastating disease. Our Senators community is raising money as well. Our ambassador is Tom Snyder, and John Aman is collecting money from our neighborhood; their contacts  are in our directory.

There is still time to register for the walk, to join a team or as an individual. Participants will meet at at 8 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 28, at Grove Park, 501 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach.  To learn more about this disease or to register, go to


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