While the coronavirus pandemic has changed the plans for the long-running Alzheimer’s Association walks, the need and the effort are still just as powerful.
The struggle of the diagnosis and disease of Alzheimer’s are personal to West Palm Beach volunteer Katie Prince. Her mother fought a long battle with the disease before she passed, and Prince wanted to help others avoid the struggle she and her family faced.
“There is a hope those of us connected by the disease share, which is that one day we will find a cure and no one else will have to feel our pain,” Prince said. “The more awareness, the better. Many people and families suffer simply due to a lack of basic information about Alzheimer’s in their daily lives. The more visible our efforts become, the more funding and focus the issue receives, the better chance we have of raising public awareness and succeeding in our mission to find a cure.”
Prince says there are many resources one might not know about when they’re in the throes of the battle, but the Alzheimer’s Association can step in to guide, offer support and share knowledge.
“Now that I’ve been through it and it’s been so many years, I know who to go to, where to turn to but in the midst of it, we had no idea. And it was just overwhelming. You’re so caught up in the emotions of going through watching a loved one suffer from the disease so you’re not thinking fully, you don’t know where to turn to,” Prince said.
Prince reflects on the experience watching her mother decline.
“It’s just so difficult to watch somebody that so smart, so successful, so sweet deteriorate in such a way and so rapidly and there’s nothing that you can do except to be there and be supportive. And so I try to remember the positive and the good, versus her declining. And we just take each day as it is and try to help those that are suffering in the same way,” she said.
More than 580,000 people in Florida who are 65 years old and older are living with some form of Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. More than 1.1 million caregivers are by their side.
“It’s going to affect a coworker, a family member, just somebody that you might see in passing, try to be aware, try to educate yourself on what somebody’s going through and what the signs could because you might notice something that the family member might not. And if you catch it early on, there’s more of a chance for more of their life to come back to them,” Prince explained.
Prince plans to rally her friends and family, regardless of the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Even if you’re not able to come out for the walk day-of, go on the website, check it out. See what they have to offer. Next year will be different, a different time, and we’ll be able to get together in larger numbers. It really is a great event, it’s our most successful fundraiser for the Association so we encourage everyone to come out. It’s a lot of fun. Next year we’ll be able to do it in person but hopefully everybody will be able to do their own Alzheimer’s party,” she said.
WPTV is proud to be a sponsor of three upcoming Walk to End Alzheimer’s events coming up in our area. Given the health concerns of the pandemic, each walk will have an interactive experience, complete with an online opening ceremony. Participants will be encouraged to walk in their own neighborhoods, and enjoy the drive-through “Promise Garden” in the community where each walk is being held.
“You’ve got to realize it’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling and just know that you’re not alone in this and if you need somebody to turn to, we’re here for you,” Prince said.