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Senior Lifestyles

Los Altos church continues fight to end Alzheimer’s disease

Los Altos United Methodist Church has been the top fundraising team for the annual Bay Area “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” for the past 12 years.

The local team has raised more than $500,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association for research, advocacy, education and caregiver support services.

Team captain Patty Kenny and church member Susan O’Neil, along with a small group of leaders, built a team of 110 walkers who braved inclement weather Sept. 21 to generate more than $60,000.

Along with fundraising, we are committed to education about this terrible disease. We understand that people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers are able to live a better quality of life with support and care. For example, holiday travel to visit family and friends can open eyes to cognitive and physical changes in a loved one. The Alzheimer’s Association’s national 24-hour helpline experienced a 13 percent rise in calls during the 2012 holiday season.

Learning the 10 warning signs can help family members gauge whether changes they see are normal or atypical. Many family members, in hindsight, have noticed changes sometimes years before a doctor diagnoses a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Signs to look for:

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.

2. Challenges in planning and solving problems.

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or leisure.

4. Confusion with time or place.

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing.

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.

8. Decreased or poor judgment.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.

10. Changes in mood or personality.

When persistent and consistent changes occur, it is time to call the doctor for a consultation. We all exhibit the above symptoms from time to time. It is only when a pattern that gets in the way of everyday life develops that a doctor should be consulted.

Early detection can play a key role in the quality of life for a person with dementia. There are treatments that can help a dementia sufferer maintain a level of independence for a long period of time. Support and knowledge of Alzheimer’s can assist caregivers as they plan for and manage the disease. November is the ideal time to educate yourself – it’s National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month as well as National Caregiver Month – and a wealth of resources are available.

Our mission at Los Altos United Methodist Church is “Touching Heaven, Changing Earth with Head, Heart and Hands.” We are convinced that fighting dementia by supporting research and offering community education for those with dementia and their caregivers fulfills that sacred call.

For a complete list of the 10 warning signs, visit alz.org/alzheimers_disease_10_signs_of_alzheimers.asp or call our 24/7 helpline at (800) 272-3900.

Bonnie Bollwinkel is professional education specialist for the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California and Northern Nevada. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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