Metro-East Living

Alzheimer’s walk remembers those who can’t remember

Alzheimer's walk is way of remembering those who can't remember us

The Alzheimer's Association is having its Walk To End Alzheimer's fundraiser Saturday, Oct. 8 at Belleville's Southwestern Illinois College campus
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The Alzheimer's Association is having its Walk To End Alzheimer's fundraiser Saturday, Oct. 8 at Belleville's Southwestern Illinois College campus

The Walk To End Alzheimer’s takes place in towns across the country. Saturday morning, there’s a walk at Southwestern Illinois College on the Belleville campus. Registration is at 8 a.m., followed by a ceremony at 9 and the walk at 9:30.

It’s sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association, a nonprofit that works on a global, national and local level to enhance care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The St. Louis chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association partners with Gateway Regional YMCA and Programs and Services for Older Persons (PSOP).

PSOP hosts a wide variety of events and activities for local seniors, including helping those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia. A service of Southwestern Illinois College, PSOP partners with the Alzheimer’s Association to educate and support those who are dealing and living with the disease.

“We take Mom to monthly meetings at PSOP,” said Kathy Koleszar, of Belleville, “to get with other people that are in the same predicament so that they can vent to each other.”

She and her sister, Elaine Walta, of Belleville, take care of their mother, Rosie Lodes, 82, who struggles with everydayissues of having dementia.

“PSOP just opens up a whole other world of information about the disease that we didn’t know about, or even where to find the information,” said Elaine.

Gateway Regional YMCA also brings informational workshops to residents. The downtown Belleville YMCA recently hosted a workshop called, “The Basics of Memory Loss, Alzheimer’s and Dementia” and will have additional workshops at various metro-east YMCA locations in October.

▪ 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Oct. 14: Collinsville Maryville Troy YMCA: Know the 10 Signs

▪ 11:15 a.m,-12:15 p.m. Nov. 10: Collinsville Maryville Troy YMCA: Healthy Living for Your Brain & Body

The mission of the Alzheimer’s Association is to find a cure and also a vaccine.

“Although there is not a cure or vaccine at this time, studies have shown that scientists are closer to pinpointing the root cause and to finding preventive measures to combat the disease,” said Dr. B. Joy Snider, professor of neurology at Washington University in St. Louis and clinical physician at the Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center there.

Here are a list of 10 early signs of the disease from the Alzheimer’s Association’s website:

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life

One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; increasingly needing to rely on memory aids, such as reminder notes, or on family members for things someone used to handle on their own.

2. Challenges planning or solving problems

Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks

Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

4. Confusion with time or place

They can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a "watch" a "hand-clock").

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

They may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

8. Decreased or poor judgment

They may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, such as giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities

They may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They also may avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

10. Changes in mood and personality

People with Alzheimer’s can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

About Alzheimer’s, dementia or memory loss

Visit Alzheimer's Association St. Louis Chapter or call the Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center on the campus of Washington University at 314-286-2683

To learn more about caregiver programs offered through the Programs and Services for Older Persons, call Jodi Gardner at the Belleville SWIC campus at 618-234-4410

Walk To End Alzheimer’s Disease at Southwestern Illinois College

When: Saturday — register at 8 a.m.; ceremony at 9; walk at 9:30

Where: Southwestern Illinois College Belleville campus parking lot M1 in front of building No. 10.

Route length: 2 miles

Cost: No registration fee, but walkers are asked to make a personal donation and commit to raising funds in the fight against Alzheimer’s

Where funds go: To further the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association

Do I have to register in order to walk? Yes.

How you get a T-shirt: Every registered participant will receive a T-shirt after achieving the fundraising minimum of $100. T-shirts will be available for pick up on Walk day.

Information: Tami Brill at 314-801-8053 or