The Wetzel County Parks and Recreation Alzheimer's Walk to Remember was held Tuesday evening, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Director of Parks and Recreation Bev Gibb said she estimated there were about 40 participants in this, the second, year of the walk. While the weather may be a bit cold for an outdoor walk, the timing is by design. Gibb explained, "It is a time of year for families to gather and be thankful for what we do have."
When asked why she walks for the cause, participant Jo Beth Simmons stated, "I do it for my mom." Simmons explained that her mother, Mary Lea Wilson, suffered from a fast progressing form of Alzheimer's. Emphasizing how important her mother was to her, Simmons said she would like to see more research done on the disease.
Pictured are participants at Tuesday night’s Walk to Remember on the walking trail from Hydro Drive.
Participant Carla Kernan said she participates in the walk because of her work in the health profession. Kernan has worked with patients who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's.
Regardless of why participants walk, the lit luminaries at the beginning of the trail signified the importance of this Walk to Remember.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, which is a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. The disease accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases.
Symptoms of the disease include: memory loss that disrupts daily life; challenges in planning or solving problems; difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure; confusion with time or place; trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships; new problems with words in speaking or writing; misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps; decreased or poor judgement; withdrawal from work or social activities; and changes in mood or personality.
Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging, though the greatest known risk factor is increasing age. The majority of people with the disease are 65 and older. The disease is not just a disease of old age though. Up to 5 percent of people have early onset Alzheimer's which appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.
Alzheimer's disease also worsens over time. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. The disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and those with Alzheimer's live an average of eight years after the symptoms become noticeable to others. Survival can range from four to 20 years though, depending on age and other health conditions.
Despite no cure thus far, treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Treatments can slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer's, as well as their caregivers.