Walk Will Rally Support For Alzheimer’S Families

Agnes Wimmer, right, an alzheimer's patient, on her way to a morning session of physical therapy.

Agnes Wimmer, right, an alzheimer's patient, on her way to a morning session of physical therapy. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Some 150 Rim Country residents have signed on for this weekend’s “Walk to End Alzheimer’s,” which starts off at 9 a.m. from Green Valley Park.

They hope to rally support for the roughly 700 Payson residents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, including some 100 people living in various Payson facilities. The walk will raise both money and awareness. Last year, the walk raised more than $7,000.

The toll of the disease became clear this month when Dr. Christine Belden of the Banner Sun Health Research Institute spoke to 60 families at Payson Care Center. First described a century ago, the advancing form of dementia still has no cure, although clinical studies have tested treatments that can slow its onset and cushion its effects. Early Alzheimer’s diagnosis is important in order to minimize the symptoms.

The National Alzheimer’s Association also came to Payson Care Center to provide a continuing education class to nursing, rehab and activities staff and to nursing students of Gila Community College. The 20 attendees learned about difficult behaviors in Alzheimer’s and appropriate activities for this population, including how to divert tense situations before they escalate. Patients with Alzheimer’s live in a different reality and caregivers must go along with their “world.”

One technique involves asking a single question, then giving the Alzheimer’s patient up to 10 seconds to answer. Often when a caregiver thinks the patient doesn’t understand the question, they simply ask the question in a different way — which adds to the patient’s confusion.

Instructors urged caregivers to focus on activities related to the patient’s occupation as an adult or hobbies they enjoyed. If the patient did not like taking walks or putting together a puzzle when they were well, that probably won’t change — although sometimes an undiscovered talent emerges during the illness.

For information, call Christy VanderMolen at Payson Care Center, (928) 951-2305.

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