This Saturday the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern Nevada is hosting its annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Held at the Sparks Marina (and several other locations all around the US), the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is a way to raise funds to support the Alzheimer’s Association and its scientific research.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s has been held for over 15 years in Northern Nevada at places such as Bartley Ranch Regional Park, at the Capitol building in Carson City, and for the last several years at the Sparks Marina.
“(The Sparks Marina) is a beautiful place; people enjoy taking in the scenery during their walk. It’s just the right length around the marina and there’s usually plenty of parking,” says Alzheimer’s Association Regional Director Niki Rubarth.
“This is an opportunity for people to learn about the services we provide to the 20,000 people living in Northern Nevada with Alzheimer’s,” she says. Around 1400 people went to the Sparks Marina last year for the Walk and the Alzheimer’s Association’s Northern Nevada chapter is expecting around 1600 participants this year.
“The Walk has grown across the country as the number of people with Alzheimer’s increases,” says Rubarth. “As the baby boomer population ages, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases,” she adds. This is why the Association focuses some of its efforts on early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, plus ways people can prevent it from happening to them as they get older. Currently, there is nothing to completely stop Alzheimer’s, so scientists are working on ways to slow it down.
“While we can’t kill Alzheimer’s, we are trying to delay its progression,” Rubarth says. “We encourage people to eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly. We’re not asking people to do an intense workout, but going on a walk a day to get up your heart rate definitely helps,” she adds.
Rubarth’s favorite part of The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is working with the volunteers. “Especially those who have lost someone to Alzheimer’s or is caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s- that is inspiring to me,” she says.
Since Alzheimer’s disease and dementia attack the brain, it requires a lot of patience to care for a person experiencing that kind of memory loss, especially when they don’t remember who you are. “The challenge is that person is still the one you know and love, so you have to focus on being in the present and remember all of the good memories you have together,” says Rubarth. “As sad as it is, there is still so much to live for.”
Most of what the Association does goes towards services that support the caregivers of those suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“We have support groups for children, men-only groups that care for their spouses…We help our care partners navigate the journey,” says Rubarth. The Association offers a Respite Program that helps care partners get a break from the daunting task of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s by giving them a place to spend the night, take a vacation, or simply have some time to themselves.
“We recognize that the stress of caring for someone can be very overwhelming; our Respite Program aims to relieve some of that stress for care partners,” she adds.
The 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer’s is free to participate but for those that raise $100 or more in donations will receive a T-shirt. The Sparks Marina loop is two miles long. Registration starts at 8 a.m. with an opening ceremony at 9 a.m. (Sparks Mayor Geno Martini will be speaking) and the Walk beginning at 9:30 a.m.
“It’s going to be a full day (of events),” says Rubarth. “It might be a bit chilly but the reception will be warm- we are all in this together,” she adds.
To register for the 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at the Sparks Marina, visit www.alz.org/walk or call 775-786-8061.