Alzheimer’s is the disease that no one likes to talk about.
It is a two-edged sword that affects not only the person with the disease but those who must care for them as well.
It is estimated that one to four family members act as caregivers for each individual with Alzheimer's disease.
The disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain's nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.
Alzheimer's disease is among the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S.
About 5.1 million Americans may have the disease and the number of people age 65 and older who are the most prone to develop the disease will more than double between 2010 and 2050 to about 20 percent of the population; likewise, those 85 and older will rise three-fold, to 19 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Although there is no cure, there is help.
The Alzheimers’s Project offers support for caregivers and those with the disease.
Thomas Memorial Baptist Church in Quincy has been providing Respite Care for two years.
“We help with around 21 Gadsden Families, director Martha Scott said.
They meet at the church’s educational building every 1st and 3rd Thursday from 9 AM to 3 PM.
This respite care allows for those with the disease to get out of the home and enjoy activities with volunteers and others facing the same trials with the disease.
At the heart of the program is the opportunity for caregivers to have a few hours of downtime to do things that as caregivers they do not have the time for.
“I’ve learned to change what I can and accept what I cannot change,” said Jean Goodson, whose husband Jack has Alzheimer’s.
The Goodsons attend the respite care program each week to give Jack an outing.
For those that may be facing this same path, Jean has some advice. “You need to have a thorough understanding of the disease,” she said.
Scott spoke about the help volunteers bring to the program, saying that it would be impossible if it were not for their involvement.
The respite care program receives help from several local churches including Quincy’s Centenary Methodist, First Presbyterian and Thomas Memorial Baptist.
Other help, she said, comes from Riverchase Nursing Home, the Quincy Pilot Club and Woodmen of the World.
Many volunteers come in and help with entertainment, and last week Tom Stratton, a local artist, showed some of his painting techniques.
He drew a flower for the group and named it “Caring.”
There are several websites that offer a better insight into Alzheimers’s disease such as Alzheimer’s Foundation Of America at http://alzfdn.org the Mayo Clinic at www.mayoclinic.org.
For more information about the local respite care program at Thomas Memorial Baptist Church contact Martha Scott at 850-386-2778 or the Alzheimer’s Project at 850-386-2778.
A lot of information is available on their web site at http://alzheimersproject .org.