Alzheimer's disease is now the 6th leading cause of death is this country. Although 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's, often times is much harder on their caretakers. Nancy Naeve Brown has more on a couple from Webster who is dealing with the reality of Alzheimer's and why Saturday September 17th is so important to them.
For Donna and Dennis Darrington from Webster the road to retirement has come far earlier than expected for Donna. The former high school English teacher was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 6 years ago. She was only 58.
Dennis says, "We knew Donna was forgetting things she normally would never forget. It wasn't like her. There is a denial that goes with that find of acceptance. We have 3 daughters. We went through quite an adjustment period trying to deal with this issue. We grew together. We've had some good times, but sad times too. It sure does change one's life."
Alzheimer's researcher and Avera Psychiatrist Dr. William Fuller is currently studying how get rid of the build up of protein in the brain that causes Alzheimer's. Patients like Donna are missing one or more of the enzymes our body produces to break up those proteins.
Dr. Fuller says, "Let's say one of these were on the market and lets say your mom starting showing signs of dementia, the idea is to use these antibodies (to break up the protein) on someone earlier rather than later so get to their brain before more damage is done."
Donna is currently enrolled in one of the two clinical trials for Alzheimer's going on at the Avera Research Institute in Sioux Falls. Research is the only way to find a cure, but it doesn't come easily or cheaply. That's where the upcoming Walk to End Alzheimer's becomes crucial in raising awareness and money for research.
State Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association Jane Aspaas says, "Research is the way of the future. We don't know how to stop it; we don't even know how to slow it down. It's all about research. We have to find out what's going on."
Dennis says, "The disease has no discretions. All of us are possible patients and up to this point in time, no one has ever gotten better from Alzheimer's. It's a terrible, terrible disease. It tries to rob one of their dignity, their ability to function. Donna has taken it one day at a time. We feel very fortunate she is staying very positive. She's a brave lady."
A lady whose family knows will become less like herself with each passing day because of this disease. Time is of the essence, the time to help is now. Join the Walk to End Alzheimer's.
The Sioux Falls Walk to End Alzheimer's is Saturday September 17th at Sertoma Park. Registration is at 9:00 am. The 1.1 mile walk around the Outdoor Campus begins at 10:00 am. Nancy Naeve Brown is proudly emceeing the event. Avera is a major sponsor.
In Rapid City the Walk is September 24th at the Outdoor Campus at 9:00 am.
In Aberdeen the Walk is October 1 at the Lakewood Mall at 8:30 am.
Sign up today by visiting WWW.ALZ.ORG/WALK or call 1.800.272.3900