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AROUND TOWN: Alzheimer's Association awaits a cure

April 15, 2018 Updated: April 15, 2018 at 4:15 am
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photo - Alzheimer's Association Reason to Hope luncheon: John Herlihy, Director of Marketing and Communications, and Betsy Cook, Memories in the Making art program. Art from the program was on display.
040318 Photo by Linda Navarro
Alzheimer's Association Reason to Hope luncheon: John Herlihy, Director of Marketing and Communications, and Betsy Cook, Memories in the Making art program. Art from the program was on display. 040318 Photo by Linda Navarro 

It's sad for everyone, "the long goodbye."

That's emcee Jon Karroll describing Alzheimer's at the April 3 Reason to Hope fundraising luncheon.

There are no survivors, but there is research and hope.

Amelia Schafer, interim executive director of the Colorado Alzheimer's Association, said new research underway in Colorado could have results in the next couple of years. Hundreds of research projects are underway nationwide, and the new federal budget increased the amount going to Alzheimer's research.

Today, 5.7 million Americans, 71,000 of them Coloradans, are living with Alzheimer's, Schafer said, and 1-in-5 Medicare dollars is spent on Alzheimer's care. "That is expected to increase to 1 out of every 3." Without a cure, Colorado is expected to have 92,000 residents with the disease by 2025.

The association had just announced that this country could spend $277 billion on Alzheimer's and other dementia care this year, possibly rising to $1.1 trillion by 2050.

The association provides a nationwide support network, with "action plans so you are not alone" during what could be a number of years, Schafer told families and caregivers.

The Alzheimer's Association is "here for you until Alzheimer's disease no longer exists."

Featured speaker Colleen Tierney Scarola shared the story of her mother, Winnie, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's at age 59. Colleen and her husband heard the devastating diagnosis on the happy day that they learned they were expecting their first baby. Her mother had been misplacing things and forgetting familiar things for two years until a correct diagnosis. Today, at age 62, her mother is in memory care and no longer remembers family members.

"I miss talking with her, really talking to her," said Colleen. "You never know how strong you can be until you have no other choice."

Colleen and the family, Walkers for Winnie, will join hundreds of others Sept. 15 in America the Beautiful Park for the Walk to End Alzheimer's.

And on The Longest Day, June 21, people across the country observe summer solstice with a variety of Alzheimer's walks and events.

Information: alz.org/co

Photo gallery: gazette.com/life/around-town

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