LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Alzheimer's is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. According to the Alzheimer's Association, there are more than 60,000 Oklahoman's with the disease. Sadly, that number will keep increasing until a cure is found.
"We want to one day stop Alzheimer's and dementia. We want to find a cure for it. Find one to make someone's life better." Gladys Valentine is the Memory Care Unit manager at the McMahon Tomlinson Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and is one of the nurses who takes care of patients dealing with Alzheimer's. "They always tell you in nursing, never get attached. But that's not possible."
The Memory Care Unit is for patients suffering from Alzheimer's. Valentine says the staff tries to make patients feel at home.
"We want to make sure it's the best care we can give them and try to keep them with a positive attitude about it."
Alzheimer's disease affects more than just the person who has it. Valentine says that's why they tend to the family's needs too.
"It's hard, but knowing someone is there to take care of your loved ones, that makes all the difference in the world. You know maybe they can go home and rest at night knowing someone that cares is going to be able to take care of my parents."
"Our caregivers go through so much. People don't realize that taking care of someone with this disease is so much more than a 7 by 24-day job." Natalie Fitch lost her mother to the disease 5 years ago. She believes a cure will be found by raising money and awareness about Alzheimer's through things like the Southwest Oklahoma Walk to End Alzheimer's. "We want to see people out. We want businesses to bring their employees out. We want families. Our goal is to educate people about the disease, how we can work towards getting a cure for this disease."
The money raised during this walk goes to find a cure before even more people are affected.
"Our goal this year is $50,000. Of course, that is for research, development, and the services that we offer here in Southwest Oklahoma, free," said Fitch.
Comanche County Memorial and the Memory Care Unit are two of the many organizations supporting the Southwest Oklahoma Walk to End Alzheimer's. Fitch says last year they broke the record in the number of participants and she hopes to do the same this year.
"I encourage all to come out and walk. It's fun. We'll have activities there, refreshments. Come meet some individuals that walk in your steps."
The Walk to End Alzheimer's of Southwest Oklahoma is on August 26th at Elmer Thomas Park. The opening ceremony is at 7:30 in the morning, and the walk is after at 9:00. There is no registration fee for the walk, but participants who raise $100 or more will get a t-shirt. And all participants will get a flower with the color of their association to Alzheimer's. You can register at SWOKwalk.org.
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