Last weekend was about running, fast and hard and long in the Oak Barrel Half Marathon. This weekend was about slowing down and supporting something bigger, more important.
The Knoxville Alzheimer’s walk was today at the University of Tennessee Gardens. While I usually write about running events, the slogan of my great group the PPP is run walk or crawl so this definitely qualifies and this cause is very close to my heart. Thousands of people from all walks of life came out today in a show of force to support each other, raise money and awareness about this disease. It was a cold, chilly day for it but the crowd was still large and energetic to be there. The Gardens are absolutely beautiful and even though they are located in the middle of downtown they have the ability to make you think you are on the edge of the woods.
Alzheimer’s is a sad disease, creeping up on families slowly. It effects people from all walks of life and all economic classes. While research is still trying to find exact causes they do know that there is a very strong hereditary component. Being in Knoxville of course there was a lot of talk today about Pat Summit who is perhaps the greatest basketball coach of her generation whose career was cut short by this disease. It was great to see the solidarity for her as current and former university players and coaches including Philip Fulmer were involved. For me it is even closer to home as my grandmother Bess Hubbard was taken from us by it and my Aunt Jane is currently suffering from it as well.
Today my family joined with hundreds of others effected. While late stage Alzheimer’s Disease is insidious and treatments are mainly ineffective early treatment is much more effective. The problem is often early warning signs are not recognized, instead thought of as early signs of aging. By the time it is recognized it is to late.
Here is a list from the Alzheimer’s Tennessee website of symptoms.
Typical warning signs include the following:
- Memory loss, especially when it comes to recent or important events, names, placement of objects, and other new information. Versus sign of “normal aging”: Periodically and temporarily forget names, appointments, or where you left your keys.
- Disorientation to time and place. Become lost on your own street or forget where you are, how you got there, and how to return home. Versus sign of “normal aging”: Forget the day of the week or why you entered a room.
- Struggle to complete familiar actions, such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, preparing a meal, or placing a telephone call. Versus sign of “normal aging”: Sometimes need assistance with an electronic device.
- Trouble finding the appropriate words, completing sentences, and following directions and conversations. May repeat and call things by the wrong name. Versus sign of “normal aging”: Occasionally struggle to find the right word.
- Poor judgment when making decisions, for example, wear several shirts on a warm day or give away large sums of money to solicitors. Versus sign of “normal aging”: Make questionable or debatable decisions at times.
- Changes in mood and personality, such as increased suspicion, rapid and persistent mood swings, withdrawal, and disinterest in usual activities. Versus sign of “normal aging”: Feel fatigued by work and social obligations now and then or become irritable when a routine is disrupted.
- Difficulty with complex mental assignments, such as balancing a checkbook or other tasks involving numbers or following directions. Versus sign of “normal aging”: Make a mistake when balancing a checkbook or leave an ingredient out of a recipe every now and then.
If you know anyone that may be suffering from Alzheimer’s then don’t take a chance, talk with them, other family members and/or their doctor. Time is so important to start treatment. If you have a family member that has Alzheimer’s then remember that you don’t have to go through this alone. Talk to the doctor, the hospital or look on line for support. Like cancer and so many other diseases almost all of us know someone who is effected by this. Please reach out to them, let them know you are there for them when they need you.