The Wyoming wind and cold made its debut just in time for about 300 people to attend the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Lion’s Park, hosted by The Alzheimer’s Association Wyoming Chapter. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest fundraising and awareness event to fight this disease. The participants could pick up an orange, yellow, purple or blue Promise Garden flower to carry on the walk.
Orange represents supporting the cause, yellow-support or care for someone with Alzheimer’s, purple-lost someone to the disease and finally blue represents living with Alzheimer’s. The association and participants hope to one day be able to carry a white flower for the first person to be cured of this disease.
Darryl Begeman with Edward Jones, a national sponsor for the event, was one of the speakers at this year’s walk. He told his personal story when his mother was diagnosed. He gave a speech last year at the walk and he was still learning about it. The next day he flew out to see his mom for three days as his stepdad was in the hospital with a different issue. Begeman told us “I did not know if my mom could be alone, and I was correct. Every day I would say, let’s go see George, (his stepdad). She would say, “who is George?” He decided it was time to find his Mom and Stepdad a home. They found a home in Arizona that was able to take them both. George is doing better in Arizona with the drier climate and his Mom is getting worse, but she is in a safe place. Begeman, says “it is a horrible disease and a big expense.” He is grateful that with his job he can get long term care insurance in case he ever needs it.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and is the most common cause of dementia affecting 5 million people in the United States with 10,000 Wyomingites suffering from this debilitating disease.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease starting with mild memory loss and in the late stage individuals lose their ability to carry on conversations and respond to their environment. There is no cure currently, but there are treatments for symptoms and research continues with the help of walks like this one and worldwide donations.
The cost of care for Alzheimer’s patients continue to rise. It is estimated that it costs over 200 billion dollars annually. This is a huge burden on family’s and the healthcare system. This does not include time the 16 million unpaid caregivers sacrifice to care for their loved one. The disease can cost on average 341,000 for the healthcare needs of someone diagnosed with the disease. Most families pay 70 percent of this cost out of pocket.
For more information on Alzheimer’s and how to help, go to www.alz.org