• Last modified 3965 days ago (Oct. 15, 2008)


Alzheimers: A slow, lingering death

Staff writer

It can be a slow, lingering death that robs the patient of memories and a life.

That’s how Terry Garman of Kiowa describes Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia.

The Marion County Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk was Saturday at Marion County Park & Lake.

Fifty people whose families have been affected by the disease participated in the fund-raiser to raise money and awareness.

For Garman, who is the brother of Rod Garman, principal at Marion Elementary School, it was unpleasant while his mother suffered from the illness.

“It’s one of the worst diseases. When it attacks, you can’t communicate with the person,” he said, as he attached a placard to his shirt with the names of his mother, Lorena Garman, and aunt, Wanda Roberts, who also died of Alzheimer’s.

“When the mind goes, you’re looking at a shell of a person. It a slow death,” Garman said, looking down. “You lose them long before they pass away.”

Saturday’s walk, the sixth year for the countywide fund-raiser, was the most successful event to date.

According to organizer, Marsha Meyer, there were twice as many walkers as last year and $6,500 was raised, $3,500 more than the previous year.

Alzheimer’s is not a “popular” disease for people to talk about. There seems to be a certain amount of stigma associated with the illness, Meyer said.

About dementia, Alzheimers

Dementia is not a disease itself. It’s a group of symptoms that are caused by various diseases or conditions.

The most common form of dementia among older people is Alzheimer’s disease. About 4.5 million Americans suffer from this condition which usually begins after age 60.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Mental decline in Alzheimer’s disease shows first as loss of memory function. Next to be affected are emotions and inhibitions. Brain lesions cause brain cells to die which make it difficult for the patient to cope with everyday life.

Several factors contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Family history is one of them.

The number of people older than 65 with the disease doubles every five years.

Some researchers believe that today’s obesity epidemic may be tomorrow’s Alzheimer’s epidemic. The high insulin levels seen in obese people may mean a high risk of Alzheimer’s disease. People with diabetes are at a particularly high risk.

Leisure activities such as reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments, and dancing are associated with a reduced risk of dementia.

Last modified Oct. 15, 2008