Alzheimer's walk raises awareness - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Alzheimer's walk raises awareness

Betty Claire Neill Betty Claire Neill
Betty Sawyer Betty Sawyer

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Nearly three million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's Disease. Alzheimer's is one of the most feared diseases by the baby boomer generation. "It's a terrible disease. It robs people of their very personalities. It turns them into horrible creatures who are so far removed from what they were when they were at themselves," said Betty Neill.

Thomas University is spreading the word about next month's annual Dr. Jim Neil's Alzheimer's Walk.

Betty Claire Neill is Dr. Neill's widow and ambassador to the walk. "My husband died at a fairly young age with Alzheimer's disease. And I think in our society today we're finding people are younger and younger when they develop this disease and at this time there is no cure."

On August 27th, we reported on a missing 80-year man from Thomas County, Charles Tuller. Tuller suffers from dementia and wandered from his home.

Luckily he was found in Florida and returned safely to his family. 71-year old Hazel Mckeller of Tift County was not so lucky.

She was found two days after she went missing in a pond on Pebble Hill Drive. "Awareness is so important and the more word we can get out about this terrible disease the more the community is aware and can look out for these problems," said Social Worker Betty Sawyer.

Sawyer says the experience can sometimes be worse for the caregiver than the actual patient. "It's extremely hard on the caregiver. In fact may times the caregiver loses their life from stress and other physical problems before the actual patient does."

Sawyer says there comes a time when moving a patient to assisted living is the only option. She says each family has to make that decision for themselves, but it will be needed at some point during the illness.

The walk begins at 10 a.m. on October 15th at Thomas University.

Copyright 2011 WALB. All rights reserved.

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