FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – On Saturday dozens of people from around the region will come together to offer support and raise funds for a disease that 6 million Americans are living with. That number is expected to grow to 13 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. That’s why the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is Positively Fort Wayne.
“Watching a loved one go through Alzheimer’s, you know, personally myself, I’m grieving the loss of my mom every day. You know, it’s not a quick get a call, she’s gone. It’s been years of continuous downhill declines and debilitating things that you just have to witness and watch day after day after day,” explains Kimberly Grannan.
Doctors diagnosed her mom, Sherry, with mild cognitive impairment about six years ago. Since then, she’s seen her mom decline, as well as seeing the impact Alzheimer’s has had on her entire family.
“Being a family member or a caregiver, while we might not be physically be seeing symptoms, it can definitely impact our mental health.,” said Kimberly.
It was never a question for Kimberly to be there for her mom.
“My mom was a nurse at Lutheran Hospital for over 40 years before she retired…and thankfully, I got to see that, you know, mom took care of me through some pretty major physical things when I was a youngster…and now I just look at my mom and say, “She spent all that time taking care of me, it’s my turn to take care of her.”‘
It can be a lonely and challenging process, but Kimberly found support.
“Sometimes people think that they have to go through this alone, or they don’t want to talk about it necessarily, but oftentimes talking about it is what helps the most…Certainly rely on the Alzheimer’s Association. There are a lot of resources out there for caregivers, for family members. There’s also a lot of interest, I should say, there’s a lot of support, you know, through support groups.”
The services offered by the Alzheimer’s Association in Fort Wayne are often possible from the funds raised at the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
“Many of the funds do stay local to support those programs and services to local families who are affected. So, caregiver support groups, education programs, those types of things. And they’re all free of charge thanks to the walk,” said Laura Forbes, Communications Director with the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Indiana Chapter.
The Alzheimer Association also says the walk promotes the feelings of being alone in this fight.
“And they see the number of people who are there because they too have been personally affected. And they see the colors of the promise garden flowers that signify a personal connection to the disease,” said Forbes.
While Alzheimer’s brings dark days, there is a light.
“There’s some hope out there that hopefully they can find a cure, continue to build resources available to not only those living with it but also their caregivers and their loved ones. And so, I am just a hopeful person and I hope one day that there will be generations living without Alzheimer’s,” said Kimberly.
Part of that research includes new FDA-approved treatment for those in the early stages of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The Alzheimer’s Association says because of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s the organization was able to provide funds for research which helped make the treatment possible.
The Fort Wayne Walk to End Alzheimer’s is on Saturday, October 7 at Parkview Field. The gates open at 9 a.m. You can choose to join to support others or raise funds, which again, helps support local programming. You can click here to learn more.