1.5-mile Alzheimer's Walk Sunday; proceeds support education, respite care, for families affected by dementia

On Aug. 30, Islands Convalescent Center and Friday Harbor Drug will sponsor an Alzheimer's Walk to raise awareness and educate our community about the disease and its effects.

The walk begins at Mullis Community Senior Center.

In conjunction with the walk, nationally known Alzheimer's educator and occupational therapist Teepa Snow will present an interactive program about understanding dementia and learning to manage behavior that can be both mystifying and frustrating.

Snow has more than 28 years of experience in geriatrics. She is director of education for the Eastern North Carolina Alzheimer's Association and adjunct faculty consultant to the School of Nursing at Duke University and the University of North Carolina. She is also a Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association and has received local, statewide and national recognition for her expertise in dementia care, programming and staff training.

"Dementia" is a term used to describe a group of symptoms that affect the brain. Dementia is the loss of cognitive function — thinking, remembering and reasoning. This begins to interfere with a person's daily life and activities. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer's Disease, an irreversible and progressive disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. An estimated 5.2 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer's Disease.

In early stages of the disease, memory loss is the most notable symptom. Older memories and the body's recall of how to do things, such as using a fork to eat, are affected to a lesser degree than new facts and memories. Language problems are characterized by shrinking vocabularly and work fluency.

In the advanced stages of dementia, the person becomes completely dependent on caregivers. Language is decreased to simple phrases and single words. Muscle mass and mobility deteriorates. Alzheimer's Disease is a terminal illness.

Snow's lecture style is dynamic, interactive, instructional and entertaining. One leaves her presentations with a renewed sense of understanding and tools for dealing with the baffling behaviors of people with Alzheimer's Disease.

Registration for the 1.5-mile walk begins at 11 a.m. at the Mullis Center parking lot. The walk begins at noon, and a barbecue lunch, following Snow's presentation, begins at 1 p.m.

A contribution of $10 for adults and $5 for children covers a T-shirt for the first 100 registrants, lunch and seminar. Proceeds support future educational programs and respite care for families affected by dementia.

If you would like to register early, call ICC Marketing Director Patti Bjarnason, 378-2117.

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