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National Alzheimer's Action Day is about reaching out to those affected by disease

September 21, 2011|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Karen Hendrickson, right, and Cathy Hanson, left, with the Alzheimer's Association talk with Phil Ridenour in downtown Hagerstown on Wednesday afternoon for the kickoff of activities held to increase awareness about the disease. Ridenour's father suffers from dementia and Ridenour wants to inform people how it affects the whole family.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

Ben Nelson of Hagerstown was at the city's public square Wednesday afternoon gathering fliers and brochures for information about Alzheimer's disease. He said his stepfather's mother has the disease.

"This is the wrong way for her to go out," he said. "She was always serving other people."

The Alzheimer's Association set up a tent on the square at the intersection of South Potomac and East Washington streets to raise awareness about the disease.

Nelson, 28, said he wanted to understand more about it.

"More research on this disease can only be a good thing," he said. "I thought my family would like information from this place."

The Alzheimer's Association put together the event, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as part of National Alzheimer's Action Day on Wednesday.

Also attending the event were Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman and Washington County Commissioner Jeff Cline.

"Alzheimer's can affect all families from your grandma to your grandpa to your mom, dad, brother, or sister," Cline said. "The more we can bring awareness, the more we can bring help to those who are incurring this terrible disease."

Cline said that he has a family member suffering from the disease.

"It is a terrible disease for those who are suffering from it, and it takes a tremendous toll on the families," he said. "Hopefully, this will help people see that there (are) programs to help lower the suffering and burden on families from it."

Cathy Hanson, program coordinator for the Alzheimer's Association in Western Maryland, said that National Alzheimer's Day was about reaching out to people in the community affected by the disease.

"Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in this country, and fifth among people older than 65," Hanson said. "It is the only major health threat in our country that we do not have a way to slow or effectively treat."

Hanson said people who showed up at the event could help out by signing up to become Alzheimer's Advocates there or on the association's website, www.alz.org/maryland.

"We've come a long way in being able to treat Alzheimer's," she said. "This is a wonderful opportunity for people to get involved and share information they know about Alzheimer's disease."

The Alzheimer's Association, which is a global voluntary health organization, is the largest private, nonprofit supporter of Alzheimer's research, according to its website. It has local chapters across the nation.

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