Volunteers, sponsors recognized

The Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter hosted its annual celebration for 23 people with a luncheon Tuesday at Tiffin-Seneca Public Library. The top teams and sponsors for the 2012 Tiffin Walk to End Alzheimer’s were recognized.

Salli Bollin, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter, provided a brief update on the organization. The chapter has 10 walks to raise money for its local activities and for research. More than 190 people participated in the Tiffin walk and raised $18,378 for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. With sponsors’ contributions added in, the total was $20,788.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease of the brain which destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies and social life. Today, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. More than 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease; 38,000 reside in northwest Ohio, and more than 1,200 live in the Tiffin area.

“This past year, we’ve seen a jump in early-stage programs. With people being diagnosed earlier in the disease process, they’re wanting more information about what services are out there in the community,” Bollin said.

Nick Vargas, who was hired last year as development and communication coordinator for the local chapter, said Tiffin was his first experience with the walk.

Maria Browne of Elmwood at the Shawhan said she helped to carry the banner at the front of the walk at Hedges- Boyer Park. As they headed up the Summit Street hill, they were able to look back at the crowd of participants.

“It was just awesome for us to turn around and see a line of walkers that was just unbelievable. It was just amazing,” Browne said.

The top three corporate teams for 2012 were Elmwood at the Shawhan, St. Francis Senior Ministries and Attica United Methodist Church. The top three family teams for 2012 were the Kuhn Shelton Family, the Skidmore Kuhn Honaker family and “Granny’s Team.”

Jim Skidmore said Norma, his wife of 55 years, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2005. Although Jim did his best to care for her at home, he found himself trying to maintain the household, cook and stay up all hours of the night to watch over Norma. His family noticed he was becoming more and more irritable and exhausted. By 2008, Jim had to move Norma into a long-term care facility in Tiffin where he goes to visit her every day. The Alzheimer’s Association has been helpful to his family.

“We hope and pray that, in the future, we can find some kind of a medical treatment that could slow down the progression of the Alzheimer’s … to make life more livable for people with Alzheimer’s disease,” Skidmore said.

Bollin reported Alzheimer’s is starting to be recognized as a public health crisis. The National Alzheimer’s Plan was passed nearly two years ago. In addition, many new drugs are in various stages of development, and research suggests certain changes in gait can predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter, works in partnership with the Area 5 Agency on Aging and the Veterans’ Administration. Bollin said her agency provides a range of respite programs, early stage programs, caregiver groups, a 24-hour Helpline, support groups and other services. A total of 6,748 individuals used the organization’s services in 2012, including 1,893 helpline callers and 60 professional caregivers in Seneca County who participated in training.

Jan and Dave Shelton are to be the honorary chairmen for the the 2013 Walk to End Alzheimer’s, set for Sept. 28. The couple has coordinated the event twice before.

In Seneca County, caregiver support groups meet twice a month. The Fostoria meetings are at 9 a.m. the third Friday of every month at Good Shepherd Home, 725 Columbus Ave. (SR 18). The Tiffin meetings are at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of every month at St. Francis Home, 182 St. Francis Ave. For more information on what the Alzheimer’s Association offers, visit www.alz.org/nwohio or call 1 (800) 272-3900.