Alzheimer’s is a disease that is becoming increasingly prevalent in aging societies such as the United States. As the life expectancy of individuals continues to grow, so does the number of people diagnosed by the disease. Today, 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, 16,000 of which are expected to reside in Delaware in 2025; a 33% increase from 2000 according to The Alzheimer’s Association.
As Walk Coordinator for the organization, Milford native Jaclyn Adkins is helping to increase the level of awareness surrounding the disease in Delaware. Personally being affected by the disease herself, Jackie’s grandmother was diagnosed with the disease 8 years ago following her grandfather, who passed away from the disease several years before.
“Deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 66% between 2000 and 2008 while deaths from other major diseases decreased, and it is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States without any prevention, cure or even a way to slow the progress,” commented Adkins. “Without additional research this number is predicted to increase as the Baby Boomer Generation continues to age.” According to the The Alzheimer’s Association the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older.
The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s can be difficult for family members and the individual affected to recognize. There is no single test to determine whether a person has Alzheimer’s as physicians must look at several different factors through medical exams, mental status testing, physical and neurological exams and blood and brain imaging testing.
“In the beginning stages it can be difficult to recognize as the person begins to forget recent memories,” commented Adkins. “ It begins to worsen and it feels as if you begin to lose a family member to the extent that they do not recognize themselves and daily tasks become impossible. It’s difficult on everyone including the person affected because they do not understand what is happening.”
As part of this year’s Delaware Marathon on Sunday, May 12 in Tubman-Garret Park in Wilmington, Jaclyn is helping to organize the Run to Remember which will support The Alzheimer’s Association. The first annual Delaware Run to Remember allows participants to support Alzheimer’s research by becoming involved through the marathon, half marathon or 4-person relay team.
“It is important to get involved on a local level because the Alzheimer’s Association provides our programs and services to the local community and families affected by the disease,” commented Ms. Adkins. “The devastating impact of the disease has touched every community nationwide, including our area.”
The funds from the Run to Remember will help to provide and enhance support for all affected through The Alzheimer’s Association programs and services. Additionally, as the largest non-profit provider of funding for Alzheimer’s research, funding involved with the Alzheimer’s Association will support vital research to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Those interested in getting involved can do so through volunteering, advocacy, or joining a committee by emailing Jaclyn Adkins at Jaclyn.Adkins@alz.org for any information.