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Walk to End Alzheimer's set for Oct. 21 at Warriors' Path

By Amy Millhorn Leonard • Oct 16, 2017 at 4:32 PM

Do you have a loved one or friend who seems to be forgetting important things frequently or repeatedly asking the same questions? Have they forgotten how to do simple day-to-day tasks or the name of a common item or what it is used for, like keys or a watch? Are they frequently getting lost while driving or often confused? Have they withdrawn socially from friends and family? If so, it is a possibility they may be exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

When Meredith Sieber was in college, her mother started showing some of these signs. Eventually, her mother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Meredith learned all that she could about Alzheimer’s including that the disease can be hereditary. This fact increases the chance that Meredith herself may develop this degenerative brain disease one day. Meredith, wanting to help people with the disease, became very passionate about devoting her life to finding a cure. In April of this year, she became the Manager of Development for the Mid-South – Northeast Tennessee chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Today, one out of every 10 people over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. “There are over 110,000 people living with Alzheimer’s in Tennessee and 2,000-3,000 of those have early-onset Alzheimer’s,” Meredith explained. “Alzheimer’s is one of the costliest diseases at $259 billion for providing health care and long-term care for individuals with the disease.”

While there are symptoms of other types of dementia caused by underlying health problems, some of those symptoms can be treated by treating the cause. Unfortunately, there is presently no cure for Alzheimer’s.

“At the Alzheimer’s Association, we have hope that there will be an established regimen of drugs available by 2025 to stave off the onset of the disease. I am hoping that we get to the point one day soon that we no longer have to talk about Alzheimer’s,” Meredith said.

The Alzheimer’s Association needs your help in finding a cure so they can continue to offer valuable services for those suffering with Alzheimer’s. Why not walk?

On Oct. 21, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held at Warriors’ Path State Park in Kingsport. The walk has been held for over 25 years.

“This two-mile fun walk is a great way to connect with others dealing with Alzheimer’s while raising valuable funds for research for a cure and for the programs offered at the local chapter!” Meredith said.

Over 500 walkers are expected and their goal is to raise $72,000. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. Then at 10 a.m., a Promise Garden ceremony will be held with forget-me-not flowers. Orange flowers represents those who advocate, yellow are for Alzheimer’s caregivers, purple flowers are in memory of those who died from the disease and blue are for family members suffering from the disease. The Walk will follow the ceremony at 10:30 a.m. “There is still time to register, form a team or become a corporate sponsor for the walk,” says Meredith. To register online, visit www.alz.org/walk.

What does Alzheimer’s Association do besides research for a cure? Right now, many clinical trials and research studies are going on to help those with Alzheimer’s. An East Tennessee State University trial provides accepted candidates with a free PET scan imaging test to completely diagnose the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association offers a free clinical trial matching service called Trial Match which matches Alzheimer’s patients and their families with the trials and studies available to them. To find out more, visit https://trialmatch.alz.org.

Tabitha Ebbert, Manager of Programs and Education at Alzheimer’s Association, spends time extensively training healthcare providers, first responders, home health workers, family members and others throughout the Tri-Cities. Alzheimer’s Association also has a 24-hour/7-day per week helpline at 1-800-272-3900.

Alzheimer’s Association has several support groups for families in the Tri-Cities area. After her husband, Dr. Kerry Swinehart, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2012, Ginger Swinehart was referred to the association.

“They helped get my husband into a valuable research study which made him feel better and feel like he was doing something to benefit others with the disease. They have been with us and given us the support we need,” Ginger declares. This will be the fifth year that Ginger and her husband have participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

To find out more about Alzheimer’s disease, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and about the Alzheimer's Association, visit www.alz.org/altn or call 423-928-4080 or email Meredith Sieber at msieber@alz.org.

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