The Ashland Beacon
In 1906, a doctor by the name of Alois Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of what he considered, a rather unusual mental illness at the time. The woman’s symptoms seemed to have come on without warning and included memory loss, language problems, problems with smell, delusions, and other unpredictable behavior. Shortly after her passing, Dr. Alzheimer performed an autopsy and examined the brain of the woman and to his surprise, what he found was an abundance of abnormal clumps (which are now called amyloid plagues) and bundles upon bundles of tangled fibers (which are now known as neurofibrillary or tau tangles) that he had not found in any previous examinations of deceased patients. Had it not been for Dr. Alzheimer’s out-of-the-box ways of thinking, the discovery of Alzheimer’s may have never come about. Since Dr. Alzheimer made the discovery, the disease is now known as what we call Alzheimer’s.
Here we are over one hundred years later and the discoveries that Dr. Alzheimer made, are still considered some of the most evident key features of Alzheimer’s; that today’s doctors look for in patients. Throughout the year, scientists have continued to study this devastating disease and have since unearthed several complex changes within the human brain involved in Alzheimer’s. It is now known that changes in the brain due to Alzheimer’s; can begin as early as a decade or more before any onset of symptoms would appear. This is immensely helpful in obtaining an early diagnosis of the disease. During the initial stages of Alzheimer’s, the brain undergoes several toxic changes, that include the abnormal buildup of proteins being formed from amyloid plaques and tau tangles. It is in these initial stages; that the brain's previously healthy neurons begin to stop functioning as they should, and then ultimately lose connections with other neurons and die off. Early detection of Alzheimer’s is crucial because by the time one reaches the end stages of the disease, the brain tissue has shrunk a significant amount and much of the brain has experienced widespread damage.
The Alzheimer’s Association was founded on April 10, 1980. The group formed by a collective of family caregivers and individuals recognized an immediate need for an organization that could unite all caregivers and provides support to those that were facing Alzheimer’s while helping raise awareness about the disease. To this day, the Alzheimer’s Association has reached millions of people and helped to raise millions of dollars for the advancement of research regarding Alzheimer’s, by way of fundraising and donations. On Sunday, October 23 2022, the Alzheimer’s Association will be holding a “Walk to end Alzheimer’s” right here in Ashland Kentucky. The event will take place at Central Park and begin at 1:30 p.m. The opening ceremony begins at 2:15 p.m. followed by the start of the walk.
Walk Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association, Jessica Munoz shared, “The Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's is the world's largest fundraiser for Alzheimer's care, support, and research. This inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to join the fight against the disease. People of all ages can participate! We welcome teams of family, friends, and corporate teams as well! There is no minimum number of people on a team and no fundraising minimum. We encourage all who have a connection or simply want to support our vision of a world without Alzheimer's to participate! No fundraiser or effort is too small! Make a post on social media or host a chili cookoff. Fundraising is also a fantastic way to get employees involved! The more action we can inspire, the more awareness we can bring. Then of course join us on Walk Day for a fun event! You can register and start a team at act.alz.org/ashlandky. Share your story to invite others to donate and join your team to help raise awareness and funds.”
There is just so much about this silent and slow-developing disease that we still don’t know. “Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death with no cure. Currently, there are over 75,000 Kentuckians that are living with Alzheimer's and over 150,000 unpaid caregivers. The Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana chapter offers local support to those living with dementia and to their families through our educational programs, support groups, and our free 24/7 hotline to help with crisis and care consultations. The Alzheimer's Association is also the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research in hopes to find a cure! Last year, we raised over $16,000! And this year our goal is to raise $40,000 at the Ashland Walk. The majority of our funds are raised through team fundraising, but we also have several corporate sponsors including Members Choice Credit Union and Kentucky Power” noted Munoz. “Every dollar you raise benefits those affected by Alzheimer's disease in your community. The Alzheimer's Association is a global organization, working to advance care, support, and research across the world. From face-to-face support to online education programs and promising worldwide research initiatives, the money you raise can help to make difference in the lives of those facing Alzheimer's.” added Munoz.