September 20, 2011 > Walk for a Dream: A World without Alzheimer's Disease
Walk for a Dream: A World without Alzheimer's Disease
By Praveena Raman
The Northern California Northern Nevada chapter of Alzheimer's Association will be holding their trademark Walk to End Alzheimer's in San Francisco on Saturday September 24 and in San Jose on Saturday October 15, 2011. The walks which are held nationwide are the main way the association raises funds to support research as well as programs that support the patients, their families and caregivers. The San Francisco walk is the largest in the nation.
The 2011 Facts and Figures report by the Alzheimer's Association (available at www.alz.org) states that this disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the only one in the top ten that cannot be cured or prevented or slowed. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and is not a normal part of aging. Although the majority of the people afflicted with this disease are older than 60 years of age people in their 30s, 40s and 50s also can get Alzheimer's and are said to have early onset of the disease. Usually people who have early onset Alzheimer's have a genetic disposition that makes them susceptible to the disease. This disease affects all ethnicities though some have a low rate of affliction.
According to current research findings Alzheimer's disease is thought to be caused by protein plaques and tangles that are formed in the brain and which damage and destroy brain cells. They erode and destroy the fragile structures that harbor the very essence of who we are. Brain cell death leads to loss of thinking and memory among other brain functions. There is no prevention and cure for this disease and the drugs that are currently available treat the symptoms of the disease but do not slow or stop its progression. Ultimately the disease is fatal.
Fremont residents Girish and Nanda Sherikar shared their personal experience. Girish's father who was living with them had been exhibiting signs of cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's Disease and was being treated for them. His symptoms started with an incident at the Mumbai airport where he and his wife were detained for overstaying their visa. Girish's father, a meticulous and diligent person was shocked that he had forgotten this formality. Sadly this incident triggered other associated medical events that started a rapid decline.
His ability to read English and Marathi and recite prayers in Sanskrit which had remained intact for about six months had declined to the point where now he opens the prayer book and stares at it trying to read. Girish mentions that his father's speech has also been affected and is incoherent. "We cannot figure out what he is trying to say and he probably realizes that as well. On very rare occasions he is able to express something that we can piece together and guess what he is saying. It is heartbreaking for me to not be able to figure out what he wants or if something is hurting him or if he wants to say something. Here is a man who had such stupendous memory; recollect extracts from various books and share anecdotes that had taken place during his childhood and younger years; now barely able to comprehend or express."
The walk generates awareness of this disease within the community, creates an environment of support and understanding for participants and raises funds for important research, education and support for patients and caregivers. The event features a 3-mile walk with an optional shortcut at 1.5 miles and is open to everybody. It is family-friendly and open to all. There is no registration fee or minimum fundraising amount. Individuals can join an existing team, start their own team or walk on their own.
This year a new community team, F.A.S.T. Walkers, was formed in Fremont in support of this initiative. F.A.S.T. Walkers will be participating in the San Francisco Walk and encourages all Tri-City area members to join the team. The goal of the team was to have at least 25 members. Currently there are 17 members. Members who join the team can walk and/or raise funds.
To join F.A.S.T. Walkers please go to http://walktoendalz.kintera.org/sf11/FASTwalkers
For more information about the San Francisco walk, Anne Betts at (650) 962-8111 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For the San Jose walk call Lisa Dowell at (650) 962-8111 end_of_the_skype_highlightingor email email@example.com.
The San Francisco Memory Walk
Saturday, September 24
Mission Creek Park
Mission Bay, San Francisco
The San Jose Memory Walk
W Santa Clara St., San Jose