Casey Corley watched her grandfather suffer with dementia for 10 years.
“He was a War World II veteran. He survived the Great Depression and was a business owner,” she said. “At the end, he didn’t know who his daughters were.”
Corley lost her grandfather to Alzheimer’s disease seven years ago. She now works as the director of development for the Lowcountry region of the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research in the United States.
“I want people to know that we have the resources needed to enhance care and promote brain health,” she said.
Among the many programs offered by the local Alzheimer’s Association chapter are: a 24-hour help line that is available in 140 languages; educational literature and presentations about the disease; care consultation to help plan ahead; caregiver support groups; early stage dementia programs; and caregiver respite.
Corley said the staff at the Lowcountry region’s Alzheimer’s Association is equipped to handle the unique needs of their clients.
“We all have direct experience with Alzheimer’s patients,” she said. “Many of us at the office have been caregivers ourselves, so we can certainly relate.”
It’s also important that the chapter’s programs are free. The caregiver respite program provides assistance in the form of a voucher that must be applied for. Once accepted, the voucher can cover care through in-home providers, adult day care centers or short-term residential care.
Corley said the caregiver support groups are in convenient locations throughout the Lowcountry.
“These are very helpful for caregivers to be a part of,” she said. “It is nice for them to meet others who they can relate to.”
The chapter offers three large fundraisers throughout the year. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s, always held in September, is set for Sept. 15 in 2018. The Longest Day is a fundraiser held every year on the day of the summer solstice. The organization asks people to choose any activity they like on that day to help raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. A Ride to Remember is a three-day, 252-mile across-the-state cycling event that also raises money and gets the word out about the organization.
Of course, other small fundraisers are held throughout the year, and Corley said the organization is always looking for volunteers and donations from the public.
“Volunteers can help in the office, especially around our large events,” she said. “There is always something to do. We also need volunteers at our events and at the health fairs we attend.”
She mentioned that people can also make donations online.
Some of the topics offered at educational workshops are: healthy living for your brain and body; legal and financial planning; living with Alzheimer’s; and effective communication strategies.
“We can come speak to employees at large companies or at other group meetings,” she said. “These are free presentations, and we are happy to do them to spread the word.”
Corley said that in South Carolina alone, there are 86,000 people with Alzheimer’s disease and a staggering 304,000 caregivers.
“Just think about Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia,” she said. “That holds 80,000 people. There are more people in South Carolina with Alzheimer’s than what that stadium can hold.”
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, and it cannot be slowed or prevented. It’s the sixth leading cause of death, and, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 66 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with the disease.
The Alzheimer’s Association’s mission is to change all that. Through research, the Association hopes to eliminate the disease. Its vision is a world without Alzheimer’s.
For more information, visit www.alz.org/sc or call 800-272-3900.