BY ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION, WESTERN CAROLINA CHAPTER
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. More than five million Americans are living with the disease. With that number estimated to nearly triple by year 2050, the Alzheimer’s Association works diligently to serve the 180,000 North Carolina residents living with the disease and the 479,000 family and friends who provide care to them.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. The Association provides patient and family services, information and referral, education, support, and advocacy across North Carolina. Its services range from a 24/7 Helpline, support groups, and educational programs to MedicAlert®.
While the on-going coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic still threatens the health of millions in this country and around the world, it continues to create additional challenges for people living with Alzheimer’s and all dementia, their families and caregivers across the state.
The Alzheimer’s Association chapters in North Carolina offer free virtual education programs and online support groups to help all N.C. caregivers and their families. Launched in May in response to the impact COVID-19 was having on those affected by dementia, the Association now offers education programs that can help those living with Alzheimer’s and their families understand what to expect so they can be prepared to meet the changes ahead.
The Alzheimer’s Association can continue to provide care and support to families during these difficult times while also advancing critical research toward methods of treatment and prevention thanks to community support. The following are some of the many opportunities to get involved locally and make a difference in supporting the organization’s vision of a world without Alzheimer’s:
Walk to End Alzheimer’s®
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which attracts thousands each year to raise awareness and funds to fight Alzheimer’s disease, will look different this year. Instead of hosting a large gathering, the Alzheimer’s Association – Western Carolina Chapter is encouraging participants to walk as individuals or in small groups on sidewalks, tracks, and trails across the state.
This year’s Walk will include three components. On Walk day, an Opening Ceremony will feature local speakers and a presentation of Promise Flowers to honor the personal reasons participants join together to fight Alzheimer’s and all other dementia, all delivered to participants’ smartphones, tablets, and computers. Next, everyone will walk in their own neighborhoods with their family and friends.
Finally, the Alzheimer’s Association will create the iconic Promise Garden in a “view only” format that participants can drive by on Walk day to honor all those impacted by Alzheimer’s.
The Alzheimer’s Association hosts 19 walks across North Carolina, including three in the Triad area: Alamance County (September 26), Guilford County (October 17), and Winston-Salem (October 3). To sign up as a walker or team captain or to learn more about becoming a sponsor of Walk to End Alzheimer’s, visit alz.org/walk or call 800-272-3900.
Both of the following opportunities are urgent volunteer needs of the Association that are being offered virtually and can convert back to in-person experiences eventually.
Public Policy Volunteer — Join the Association’s public policy volunteer team who help improve the quality of care and quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families by carrying their message to elected officials at the state and federal levels. Training is provided, political experience is not required and efforts are strictly bipartisan. Visit alzimpact.org/volunteer.
Alzheimer’s Association Community Educators — Be part of the team of trained volunteer Community Educators who assist with education and outreach programs as well as provide support to families living with dementia. Visit volunteer.alz.org/home.
The Alzheimer’s Association, Western Carolina Chapter provides patient and family services, information and referral, education, and advocacy in 49 central and western North Carolina counties. For more information about Alzheimer’s disease or the Alzheimer’s Association Western Carolina Chapter, visit alz.org/northcarolina or call (800) 272-3900.