Mary LaCrone and Shirley Robertson first became aware of the effects of Alzheimer’s on both the patient and family members when their mother was diagnosed with the disease in the 1990s.
The sisters became frustrated because so little was known about the disease and sought ways to become better educated about its long-term effects.
“Mom was in Countryside Estates, now Windsor Place, and I told the administrator, Faith Nelson, there should be some kind of support group for families who have a family member with Alzheimer’s,” LaCrone said.
Taking matters into their own hands, LaCrone and Robertson began the monthly Alzheimer’s Support Group, which meets the last Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Windsor Place.
“That was 11 years ago and to this day I am still learning about the disease. I want families who are affected to know we have all been in their place. They are not alone in their struggle with the disease,” LaCrone said.
FOUR YEARS ago to raise both money and awareness for Alzheimer’s, LaCrone and Robertson organized the first Alzheimer’s Memory Walk in Iola.
This year’s walk will be Saturday on the south side of the Iola square and is the signature fundraising event for the Alzheimer’s Association and Heart of America Chapter.
Last year’s walk raised $14,000. The bulk of the money remains in Allen County with proceeds being used to support programs and services for family members and caregivers as well as for research advancements to cure the disease. This year’s goal is $15,000.
“We also use some of the money to provide respite care for families,” Robertson said.
The support group uses money raised in the walk to pay for eight hours of respite care for a family. The caregiver can take all eight hours at one time or divide it up over several days using an hour or two at a time. The family can also choose which care facility they would like to leave the Alzheimer’s patient in.
There is no entry fee to register for the Memory Walk. All walkers are asked to raise at least $50 each. Seven teams have registered so far for this year’s walk and people may continue to register until the morning of the walk.
Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday on the square with the 2-mile walk beginning at 10 o’clock. A barbecued lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to noon with a $5 donation per plate being received for the meal.
Teams may register at memorywalkiola.kintera.org or by calling LaCrone at 365-5619.