It isn't her memory that causes Annie Shaffer concern. It's her husband, Ernie's. Six years ago he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The first signs? He started getting lost. "We live in a community with 5 streets and he would get lost, walking the dog. The dog suffered more than him actually. She's very small, short legs."
Dozens of people attended a town hall meeting to give their input to help develop the first ever Nevada state plan for Alzheimer's. Currently, 26,000 Nevadans live with the disease. 80,000 are full or part time caregivers. And the number is expected to explode nationally. Ruth Gay is with the Northern Nevada and California Alzheimer's Association. "There are 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day. 1 in 8 will develop Alzheimer's disease. 1 in 8 of those Baby Boomers. So if we don't do something to change the trajectory of this disease now we are going to be dealing with a country where you are either dealing with Alzheimer's disease or you are caring for somebody with Alzheimer's disease."
Last year, Alzheimer's disease cost Medicare and Medicaid $120-billion. That's why representatives from our members of Congress were also at today's town hall. A national plan on Alzheimer's was released this year. Members of Congress are now gathering information from the state level to continue growing that plan. Katie Pace is with Senator Dean Heller's office. "We'll share it with our legislative staff plus I attend many networking groups here locally. So when I have a constituent I can better direct them."
Because living for 8-15 years with Alzheimer's is tough. But taking care of someone is even harder. That's why Annie spoke at the meeting today to get across her message that caretakers have to take care of themselves too. "By the time the end comes, whether it's the nursing home or the real end, you've still got your health. You've still got your sanity. You can have a life."
The first warning signs of Alzheimer's are:
*short term memory loss
*inability to get words out
*difficulty with everyday tasks
*inability to find familiar places
The Walk To End Alzheimer's is Saturday, September 29th. It's at the Sparks Marina. To sign up or for more information, go to www.alz.org/walk or call 800-272-3900
Written By Wendy Damonte