Participants in the Alzheimer’s walk at King’s Grant retirement community walk through the Village Greens on Oct. 11. (Photos by King’s Grant)

By Kim Barto Meeks

A walk at King’s Grant retirement community on Oct. 11 raised almost $6,000 for Alzheimer’s research.

Vaun Gott, who spoke during the kick-off for the King’s Grant Alzheimer’s walk, walks with her mother, King’s Grant resident Lynn Kazar.

This exceeded the original fundraising goal of $5,000, and so King’s Grant Executive Director Tom Fitzgibbons made good on a promise to dye his hair and beard purple. Purple is the color of Alzheimer’s awareness.

Richard & Susanna Carle, King’s Grant residents, participated in the Alzheimer’s walk.

Participants in the annual event included King’s Grant residents, staff, families, and organizations such as Edward Jones agent Matt Erikson, Commonwealth Hospice, SOVAH Home Health, Mountain Valley Hospice, and Dr. Craig Dietrich, DDS. All proceeds benefitted the national Alzheimer’s Association.

King’s Grant staff members participated in the Alzheimer’s walk.

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that affects 5 million Americans, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It is the most common form of dementia, which is a general term referring to cognitive symptoms such as loss of memory and thinking skills. Most patients are ages 65 or older, but about 200,000 Americans suffer from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

“Awareness is critical in the education and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,” said King’s Grant Marketing Director Crystal Caldwell. “Funds are utilized in Alzheimer’s research to offset the staggering rates of diagnosis, as well as to steady the mounting costs associated for families, caregivers and our nation as a whole.”

Commonwealth Hospice team members, Deana Ferguson and family, were among the participants of the Alzheimer’s walk.

Caldwell shared statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association stating that the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and one in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. It kills more each year than breast and prostate cancer combined. Someone is diagnosed every 65 seconds, she said.

King’s Grant Executive Director Tom Fitzgibbons made good on his promise to dye his hair purple as a result of the Alzheimer’s walk raising more than $5000 for Alzheimer’s research.

Alzheimer’s is progressive, meaning the symptoms get worse over time. Eventually, patients may decline to the point where they cannot speak, walk, or even swallow. There is a great deal of variation in the independence levels of dementia sufferers, but those in the late stages of the disease require round-the-clock care with even basic functions.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments that can address some of the symptoms. More research is needed to diagnose it earlier, find treatments that can slow the disease’s progression, and ultimately find a cure.

King’s Grant opened its Memory Support Neighborhood to serve residents with dementia in 2018. It includes 14 beds and multi-sensory resources to help reduce anxiety and promote well-being. Staff are specially trained to care for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, who may have trouble communicating their needs.

“Memory Support staff are trained in the concept of generating daily ‘moments of success’ by offering opportunities for residents to find happiness while supporting their individual needs,” said Cheyenne Barton, Memory Support Neighborhood Coordinator. “Our program’s core has a person-centered approach which provides belonging and purpose with a preservation of identity and sense of self. We incorporate personal preferences into the daily schedule and environment to meet the needs of our Memory Support residents.”

For more information on Alzheimer’s and resources for patients and caregivers, visit www.alz.org.