Walk to End Alzheimer’s supports research, services | SteamboatToday.com

Walk to End Alzheimer’s supports research, services

Alzheimer's disease is currently the sixth most common cause of death in the U.S. and remains nationally the most deadly disease with no known prevention, treatment or cure. A wave of new research, funding in part by Alzheimer's walks like the Yampa Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday, Aug. 24 at Casey’s Pond, is trying to change that.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The numbers are staggering: Alzheimer’s disease is the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death.

Today, there are about 73,000 people in Colorado older than age 65 living with Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

In 2025, there are projected to be 92,000 people with a disease — a nearly 30% increase.

At the same time, research on Alzheimer’s disease is seeing a surge, and the largest non-governmental source of funds for research comes from the Alzheimer’s Association, host of the Yampa Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday, Aug. 24 at Casey’s Pond. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and opening ceremonies will be at 9 a.m.

It is the fifth annual walk — with a fundraising goal of $30,000. Last year, about 120 people participated in the event at Casey’s Pond and raised more than $23,000.

News stories from just last month covered a study showing diet and exercise may play a significant role in risk reduction; new research on why women are at higher risk than men; how women who work outside of the home show slower memory loss later in life; and how new blood tests may screen for early signs of dementia.    

Other stories in recent months explore the connection of anxiety to dementia, early warning signs and the race among pharmaceutical giants to find a cure. 

“The more we know, the closer we get to figuring out what causes Alzheimer’s and treatment to help those who are diagnosed,” said Katie Petersen, development manager for the Alzheimer’s Association Northern Colorado area.

Until then, it remains the deadliest disease without a prevention, treatment or cure, she said.

The Alzheimer’s Association is currently working on some groundbreaking studies, Petersen said.

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at 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 and personality

One is now entering into a second phase, she described, after showing promising results which indicate that keeping blood pressure down may lower risk of mild cognitive impairment, which is where Alzheimer’s starts.

Another, the first of its kind, “is a 2-year clinical trial to evaluate whether lifestyle interventions that simultaneously target many risk factors protect cognitive function in older adults who are at increased risk for cognitive decline.”

The money raised by the 12 walks across Colorado and many more nationwide also funds care and support services.

In Routt County, that includes community education classes, Petersen said, a support group for caregivers on the third Thursday of every month, care consultations and a 24-hour helpline at 800-272-3900.

The walk also provides an opportunity to expand awareness. “We want people to know we are here,” Petersen said. “Especially caregivers.”

On Thursday, a class will be held at Casey’s Pond on the 10 early signs and symptoms of the disease. It is free and open to the public.

“We promote early detection,” Petersen said. “The earlier we know, the sooner a person can get the resources they need.”

While all the research is exciting, “There is still no proven prevention, treatment, or cure,” Petersen said. “We want to find definitive answers. The ultimate goal is to find a cure.”

If you can’t make Saturday’s walk, Petersen said, the fundraising effort goes through the rest of the year. And volunteers are always needed, including on Saturday.

If you go . . .

What: Yampa Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s

When: Registration at 8 a.m., opening ceremonies at 9 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 24

Where: Casey’s Pond, 2855 Owl Hoot Trail

More information: To register or to find more information, visit alz.org/walk

The walk is sponsored by Casey’s Pond, Edward Jones, Bonfiglio Drug and Sounds of the Valley Audiology.

Edward Jones is the national presenting sponsor for all Alzheimer’s Association Walks to End Alzheimer’s. Casey’s Pond is the presenting sponsor. Bronze-level sponsors are Bonfiglio Drug and Sounds of the Valley Audiology.

To register, volunteer or make a donation to the Yampa Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s, visit alz.org/walk.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.

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