Today, as many as 48,000 West Virginians are among the more than five million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease.
The human cost of Alzheimer's disease is devastating, impacting not only the person suffering with the disease, but the more than 108,000 friends and family members who have become their caregivers.
These West Virginians provide more than 123 million hours of unpaid care for their loved one each year, at an estimated value of $1.52 billion. Families lose their loved ones twice — first to the ravages of the disease and then ultimately to death.
Our dual mission of care and support and research enables us to fight this disease on two fronts.
The Alzheimer's Association leads international research efforts, awarding more than $315 million to an excess of 2,200 research projects to help slow — and ultimately stop — this disease.
At the Alzheimer's Association we work to ensure no one has to face this disease alone. The Alzheimer's Association provides 24-7 support (800-272-3900), care consultations and a statewide network of support groups.
Through our community education efforts we work to raise awareness about the 10 warning signs, caregiver stress and how to cope with the effects of Alzheimer's or dementia.
But, we can't fight this disease alone. We need your help. Join us Saturday, Oct. 26, for the 2013 Walk to End Alzheimer's at Appalachian Power Park.
This annual event is among hundreds of walks nationwide that raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's care, support and research programs, raising more than $51.8 million for care and research in last year alone.
Interested individuals can register for the Walk online at alz.org/wv or beginning at 9:30 a.m. the day of the event.
The end of Alzheimer's disease starts with you.
Kirksey is executive director of the Alzheimer's Association's West Virginia chapter.