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County residents walk for loved ones and caregivers fighting Alzheimer’s disease

Nearly 100 County residents raised more than $11,000 toward finding the cause, and cure, for Alzheimer’s disease, and for the support and services needed in the meantime. The fundraising walk was at the Sandbanks, Saturday.

Nearly 100 people walked in memory, and to honour, grandparents, parents, siblings and friends with Alzheimers and dementia and those who care for them.

Gerry Leavitt, and Bella, prepare for the scavenger hunt during this year’s walk.

Walks roll out in communities across Canada in May and June, uniting people with one common mission: a world without Alzheimer’s disease.

While aging baby boomers are about the push Alzheimer rates sky high – there remains no clear cause, or cure. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. It usually starts slowly and gradually worsens with time.

People caring for those with the disease may be navigating feelings of grief at the slow loss of the person they love; guilt feelings of not doing enough and anger with the healthcare system as well as distress and exhaustion in giving their person the best life possible.

Society staff estimate some 11,000 people in Hastings, Prince Edward and Brighton will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia – almost double the number from 6,000 in 2011. More than half a million Canadians are diagnosed, and as boomers age, that number is expected to jump to 1.4 million by 2031.

In his job as Prince Edward County’s mayor, Steve Ferguson says he has seen first-hand the effect of Alzheimers and dementia on members of the community, and the effect it has on their families.

“It’s quite significant. Visiting various facilities and homes, and talking to residents and family members is quite an eye-opener as to the effects of these conditions.”

Jackie Markland was busy painting faces in preparation for the walk.

From Waupoos, to Maynooth; Deseronto to Brighton, the local society covers a huge territory, said Maureen Corrigan, executive director.

“And for such a small charity, we offer services in every community in Hastings, Prince Edward and Brighton.”

The society introduced a new program this year called First Link Care Navigator and with that increased referrals by 44 per cent – 650 referrals.

“That’s a lot of work for a small charity but we will do our utmost to see it continues through the changes in health teams by the provincial government.”

PEC Mayor Steve Ferguson learns about Project Lifesaver from Lorraine Ross, the Alzheimer Society’s Information Support Co-ordinator, Cst. Troy Bellehumeur, Project Lifesaver lead, and Cst. Patrick Menard.

Prince Edward OPP were also in attendance at the walk with a demonstration by Cst. Troy Bellehumeur, lead for Project Lifesaver.

More than half of people with memory problems become lost at some point as familiar surroundings become strange to them. Project Lifesaver’s concern is that half the people with dementia who go missing for 24 hours, end up seriously injured, or dead.

The Alzheimer’s Society works with the OPP and municipal police to use radio technology to bring a loved one home safe. A wrist-transmitter worn by participants emits a radio tracking signal picked up by a radio receiver. It works within a two-kilometre radius and in heavily wooded areas where GPS signals don’t exist.

The local society provides support and several programs for people with all forms of dementia, their caregivers and families.

Its parent Canadian organization, since 1989, has invested more than $53 million into biomedical and quality of life research.

Maureen Corrigan hands out T-shirts to Bruce Ferguson and Barb Loner while Kim Cunningham and Morgan Havilland show this year’s shirt, sponsored by IG Wealth Management

More than $11,000 was raised at the Hastings Prince Edward walk Saturday, with another $10,000 raised at the Quinte West and Brighton event Sunday. Belleville’s walk is Sunday, May 26.

For information about programs and services available in the County, visit the Alzheimer Society office at 90 King St., Picton, or call 613-476-2085.

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