Over 100 people participated with the 2017 “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” Saturday in Nacogdoches. The event was organized to honor and remember loved ones affected by the disease. The atmosphere is a happy one, but for some of the walkers, like Leslie Wylie, it hasn’t always been this way.
“Devastated when he was diagnosed,” said Wylie. “I knew something was wrong because Rob couldn’t draw anymore, and he was always able to draw.”
Wylie’s husband, Rob, was only 47 when he was diagnosed. Those with younger-onset Alzheimer’s make up three percent of the entire population of those with the disease.
“You feel a little overwhelmed because you kind of have to do everything,” said Wylie. “And, then, you realize, hey, it’s still my husband, and, we’re going to fight with this and continue on.”
One of the ways to fight Alzheimer’s is by catching the symptoms early. Beth Warkenetin’s mother lived with the disease until she was in her late nineties.
“They did the APOE test that showed clumps in her brain,” said Warkenetin.
Warkenetin realized, soon after her mother was diagnosed, that she would have to change along with her mother.
“I realized that I was going to have to learn a lot,” said Warkenetin. “I began to read, learn, and, found a lot of things out there.”
This need for information is what many, including Latika Lawson, are trying to solve.
“Each community has a representative to get literature out there,” said Lawson. “That’s why we have this walk to draw awareness to all the community members, so we could get the word out, so we could take care of the ones who are suffering.”
Strength for caregivers is also encouraged.
“You can’t give up either,” said Wylie. “You have to get in there and just fight with them and help them and love on them. And, do everything you can to help them get better.”
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that, in 2016, over 15 million family and friends spent almost 20 billion hours caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
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