SACKVILLE, N.B. – Organizers are encouraging residents to lace up their sneakers and come on out to the Sackville Waterfowl Park for the annual Walk for Alzheimer’s next Sunday afternoon.
The Walk for Alzheimer’s is an event that aims to raise funds and awareness for an affliction that is touching more and more New Brunswickers every single day.
“Dementia isn’t going to go away, so we need to persist with being able to provide services that are valuable to the community,” said Harold Popma, a retired physician and co-chair of Sackville’s Walk for Alzheimer’s committee.
With more than 15,000 New Brunswickers currently living with dementia, and that number growing every day, the committee hopes to not only bring in funds for this cause but, more importantly, build more awareness and create more dialogue, including finding ways to reduce the stigma associated with Alzheimer’s.
The Walk for Alzheimer’s is an annual fundraising event for the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick (ASNB) that takes place in several communities across the province. Popma said these types of fundraisers are essential to the ASNB, as they ensure programs like education awareness, workshops, support groups, memory cafes and day cares can be provided for Alzheimer patients, their families and their caregivers.
“This is a way for the community to support the Alzheimer’s Society and what they are doing,” he said.
In Sackville, for example, funds have helped to support the establishment of a monthly Memory Café, which was launched last February, as well as the formation of a new caregiver support group in the fall of 2017.
“These types of things show what the funds can do,” said Popma. “It’s something that was much needed in this community.”
This is Sackville’s fourth year in hosting a Walk for Alzheimer’s and more than $60,000 has been raised over that time thanks to generous community sponsors and individuals.
Popma said his involvement in the Walk comes both at a personal and professional level, as someone who has had family members afflicted with the disease as well as a doctor tending to patients at the Drew Nursing Home for nearly 40 years. He said he has seen firsthand the need for services and programs for patients and their families.
“I really felt this was something that would be valuable to the community.”
Alzheimer Disease is a progressive, degenerative disease that affects each area of the brain, resulting in the loss of certain functions or abilities. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
Although current Alzheimer's treatments cannot stop Alzheimer's from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. There is also an effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.
The Sackville Walk for Alzheimer’s is set for Sunday, May 27 and the walk will take people around the Sackville Waterfowl Park. Registration starts at the visitor information centre at noon and the walk gets under way at 1 p.m. Mayor John Higham will speak at the event and there will be free refreshments and ice cream following the event.
For more information or to register online early for the event, visit walkforalzheimers.ca.