By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
EVERETT — People with Alzheimer’s and those who care for them rarely get a chance to publicly express how the disease affects them.
Next week, their time will come during a town hall meeting in Everett sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association of Western and Central Washington.
“What we do at town hall meetings is invite people affected by Alzheimer’s and get their feedback on what they need and what’s not working,” said Becca Verda, a spokeswoman for the Alzheimer’s chapter.
The public also will be asked about the effectiveness of Alzheimer’s-related state and federal programs and what could be done to improve them, she said.
An estimated 100,000 in Washington have Alzheimer’s disease. It is the state’s third-leading cause of death. In 2012, the most recent information available, 301 county residents died from the disease, according to the Snohomish Health District.
The town hall meeting in Everett is one of 13 being held throughout the state. Panelists at the meeting will discuss information on the economic and medical effects of Alzheimer’s and help develop a plan to meet the needs of Alzheimer’s patients, Verda said.
During the Everett meeting, people will talk of their experiences in providing care for a loved one with the disease. “That part is really key, that the community talks about how the disease affects their lives, their loved ones and the lives of everyone around them,” Verda said.
The Alzheimer’s organization can provide emotional support and suggest medical services to people who have just been diagnosed, she said. The nonprofit is trying to reach people early in their diagnosis to provide help with support groups, education and the availability of care.
The group sponsors workshops so that caregivers can learn more about Alzheimer’s, and it has established a 24-hour help line.
“Often caregivers are experiencing a great deal of stress,” Verda said. Often, people who call the help line are looking for physician referrals and want to know how to get a second medical opinion.
The Alzheimer’s Association has an upcoming fundraising event in Everett, The Walk to End Alzheimer’s. It’s scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Sept. 7 at the Port of Everett, 1205 Craftsman Way. Participants can walk either 1.5 miles or 2.5 miles. There is no registration fee but all walkers are asked to make a donation. For more information, call 206-965-5401 or email WAevents@alz.org
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public Alzheimer’s meeting
The Alzheimer’s Association of Western and Central Washington has scheduled a town hall meeting from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Carl Gipson Senior Center, 3025 Lombard Ave. in Everett. The group seeks public comment on public policy priorities, including the National Alzheimer’s Plan, an Alzheimer’s Disease Plan for Washington and an initiative to improve health care for older and disabled Washingtonians who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.
The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24-hour help line staffed by a social worker who can explain where to find resources — from support groups for caregivers to help for early stage Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Call 800-272-3900 for more information.