72nd MDG champions Alzheimer’s education

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

The 72nd Medical Group has recently extended its resources capabilities, now serving as a liaison to the Alzheimer’s Association.

For the first time in its 37 years, the Alzheimer’s Association presented its programs and services to physicians and nurses during a 72nd Medical Group professional staff meeting May 11. All were given packets of information ranging from disease education to one-on-one consultations, and public education programs on effective communication and support groups. The Oklahoma chapter covers all 77 counties, with five offices sprinkled throughout the state. Lunch and learns as well as on-site consultations are also available.

Community Outreach Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association Morgan Fitzgerald emphasized that resources are accessible to anyone, and are not just limited to those living with the disease.

“We are really trying to get the word out to people across base,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a critical tool to help people become aware of the 10 signs or the basics of Alzheimer’s disease. Employers dealing with it can also know the resources available to them and their employees. Emotional stress, for example, can stem from one’s job, but high levels of stress can also be experienced through caring for the sandwich generation – raising your kids while trying to manage and care for your aging parents.”

Sixty-three thousand Oklahomans are affected with the disease, and Oklahoma has recorded 223,000 caregivers that are unpaid - not home health, just family and friends taking care of a loved one. Fitzgerald noted that on average, a family will spend an estimated $500,000 over the lifespan of someone living with the disease. Referred to as the “silver tsunami” for the number of baby boomers turning 65, the aging workforce impacts the trajectory of the disease, flooding Medicare, Medicaid and social security, well on its way to crippling the economy.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than those diagnosed with breast and prostate cancer combined. More than five million Americans are living with the disease, with more than 15 million Americans providing unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. In 2016 alone, these caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of care, valued at over $230 billion.

Every program and service offered through the Association is provided for free because of the annual fundraisers. Their most prominent is the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. More than 630 Walks are held annually across the country. Last year, Oklahoma City was ranked in the top 20 in fundraising, and top 10 in its participation. Fitzgerald said their 2017 Walk, set for Sept. 30 this year, expects to have a 10,000 participant turnout. For more information on how to get involved, visit www.OKCwalk.com.

Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer’s Association advances research to end Alzheimer’s and dementia while enhancing care for those living with the disease. Constant care and support resources are available via 24/7 helpline, 1-800-272-3900, or online, www.alz.org, where you can schedule care consultations with a staff member. Information is available about the disease and caregiving, and referrals to a variety of community programs and services can be accessed as well.

For additional information or questions contact Morgan Fitzgerald at 405-319-0780.