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Alzheimer's disease support groups, conference to be funded by

October 15, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Mary Ronzo, 85, will be walking at Hagerstown Community College on Sunday, Oct. 17, and she'll have plenty of company with the same purpose in mind.

She'll be joined by her son, John Ronzo, and his wife, Carol; her grandson and his wife; two granddaughters and one of their husbands.

Mary Ronzo, 85, won't recognize all of her relatives. She has Alzheimer's disease, and that's what they all will be walking to beat - as part of Memory Walk '04

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"It's very hard," John Ronzo said.

"It just affects everybody," said Carol Ronzo. "It affects the whole family."

The Ronzo family will walk to help raise funds for research and the Greater Maryland chapter of the Alzheimer's Association's programs, which include support groups and an upcoming caregiver conference.

John Ronzo doesn't know if research can help his mother, but "it might help us or somebody else," he said.

The act of walking also might help. The results of two studies published in the Sept. 22 to 29 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association suggest that long-term physical activity, including walking, is associated with significantly less cognitive decline in older women and reduced risk of dementia in physically capable elderly men.

Mary Ronzo lives at Somerford Assisted Living and Alzheimer's Care in Hagerstown. Other families will be walking Sunday, and some of their loved ones who live at Somerford might join them, but it's too early to tell.

"It's going to depend on the day," said Sheri Evans, family services coordinator at Somerford.

Other people who have Alzheimer's will be walking or riding in wheelchairs at the Sunday event, said Mary Ellen Mitchell, development coordinator for the local association chapter. Because HCC offers the option of an indoor track, the walk will take place rain or shine.

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