Despite the rain more than 200 people joined the Memory Walk in New Plymouth on Sunday.
Memory walks, organised by Alzheimers New Zealand, have taken place all over New Zealand in the last week.
The Wellington Youth Choir, which was in town for the weekend, and the Taranaki Ukestra entertained the walkers once they had completed their trek from the East End Reserve down the Coastal Walkway to the grass area outside Puke Ariki.
Famed neuroscientist Professor Sir Richard Faull, who grew up in Tikorangi, spoke to the walkers.
Researchers were trying to work out a way to slow Alzheimer’s Disease, he said, and have taken in people at the very earliest stages of the disease to look at their genes and what they’re eating,
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“And they are doing tests to see if we can delay Alzheimer’s. People say why not just cure it? We’d love to but it’s complicated. If we can delay it five years then people would have quality of life and we’d reduce the prevalence of it by 50 per cent. By slowing it down we can help people.”
What was good for the heart was good for the brain, he said.
“It’s really important – social interaction and doing the things you love.”
Alzheimers Taranaki manager Ana Parkes said she was thrilled to have Sir Richard in New Plymouth.
“All the other organisations having memory walks are jealous. It’s coup for us. He’s a son of Taranaki.”
The memory walks were important, because dealing with dementia was often frustrating, Parkes said.
“There is only so much you can do. So something like this brings a whole group together who are living with similar situations. Dementia is so prevalent throughout the community almost everyone knows someone who is affected by dementia.”
The walks also helped with the stigma around the disease, she said.
“The pity about that is it prevents people from getting support as early as they should. The sooner people start getting support the better it can be in the long run. Relationships can be established between our field worker and families so that when things start getting a bit rougher further down the track there is the bond and understanding.”