With the support of Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) Director, Nick Macchione, an HHSA team was formed to raise money for the care and support of those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers and for research for a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. The walk was held on October 19, 2013 in San Diego at Balboa Park. Sixteen individuals joined the team and, of those, nine people and one dog spent their early Saturday morning walking with many others also dedicated to providing support.
“It means a lot that we are able to participate and provide our physical and financial support from HHSA for those individuals with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers,” said Ellen Schmeding, Director of Aging and Independence Services. "We hope to see a cure within our lifetimes to end the suffering so many exposed to the disease must endure.”
The HHSA team raised $1,100 in support of the Alzheimer’s Walk in 2013. Their goal is to assemble even more team members next year and double their support.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and affects an estimated 5.2 million Americans. It is the sixth-leading cause of death. Dementia is caused by the damage or death of neurons in the brain. Common symptoms of the disease include: memory loss that disrupts daily life, challenges in planning or solving problems, difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, decreased or poor judgment, withdrawal from work or social activities, and changes in mood and personality. Despite an increase in research over the past 30 years, the precise changes in the brain that lead to Alzheimer’s and other dementias are still not known. Although Alzheimer’s is not a typical part of aging, advancing age is the greatest risk factor for developing the disease. Other risk factors include having a first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s (due to heredity or perhaps shared environmental/lifestyle factors), mild cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, fewer years of education, social and cognitive inactivity, and traumatic brain injury.
There is currently no pharmacological treatment that slows or stops the death and malfunction of neurons in the brain. Nevertheless, active medical management of Alzheimer’s disease including management of coexisting conditions, coordination of care among physicians, participation in activities/adult day health program, and utilizing supportive services can help increase the quality of life for patients and caregivers.