EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSFamilies Fight To Bring Awareness To Alzheimer's Disease
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Taisha Walker
Videographer: Taisha Walker
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Reported: Oct. 11, 2013 1:43 PM EDT
Updated: Oct. 21, 2013 10:10 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The Alzheimer's Association is looking to raise money during the month of October to help fund research for dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
The West Virginia chapter plans to bring in $140,000 by Oct. 26, the date of the annual Memory Walk in Charleston.
According to the organization, more than five million people are living with the disease and that number could grow to 50 million by 2050. Local families are joining in on the fight to bring forth more awareness.
"It's not just something that affects elderly people," Tina Byrd, who lost several family members to Alzheimer's disease, said."It's a real disease and its not just something we get when we turn old."
According to the Alzheimer's Association, 200,000 people under age 65 are living with the disease. Byrd said she knows caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's is a full-time job and can take a toll on the family.
Alzheimer's Association volunteer Keely Williams agreed.
"The life of a caregiver is so demanding that 63 percent of caregivers pass away before the person they care for because they neglect their own health and their own needs because its such a time consuming , emotional and physical job," Williams said.
Williams lost two of her grandmothers and an aunt to the disease.
"A lot of people think it's just about being a little forgetful with memories and forgetting people's names or calling people by their wrong name and forgetting where you came from," she said. "It's so much more than that. It's a degenerative disease of the brain that shuts down the body."
The account executive helped care for her family members until it became too much to bear. Williams recalled how her grandfather would visit her grandmother in an assisted living facility and helped sharpen her memory.
"He'd say, 'what is that,' and she had said 'that's UK' and he'd say 'what does that stand for' and she'd still know, she'd say 'the University of Kentucky,'" Williams said.
"It's devastating," Byrd said. "Its devastated our family in many ways. It's very hurtful to watch someone you love so much slip away."
The women hope their strides to bring awareness to Alzheimer's will help other families in their walk.
The organization will host a two hour Party in Purple Zumbathon Fundraiser Saturday afternoon in St. Albans. It takes at the Hansford Senior Center at 1 p.m. The event cost $10 with proceeds going to the Alzheimer's Association.
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