Death raises awareness of Alzheimer's symptoms -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Death raises awareness of Alzheimer's symptoms


A north Georgia district attorney and sheriff will meet soon to decide whether to file charges against a man who shot a killed an Alzheimer's patient who repeatedly rang his doorbell in the middle of the night.    

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive physiological change in the brain and is the most common form of dementia. Memory loss and wandering are some of the effects.  Last week 72-year-old Ronald Westbrook was killed after he wandered three miles away from his home and tried to enter a home in Northwest Georgia. A man inside shot him four times. 

Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and has no cure. Officials with the Alzheimer's Association say it's important for you to recognize when a loved one has the disease.  

South Georgia Alzheimer's Association Director Bonnie Sayles made it her life's mission to raise awareness about the disease that took her mother's life two months ago.  

"She was a minister's wife, so every day she thought she had to go to church. When I said 'no mom its Monday we went to church yesterday we're not going to church today,' she would go outside and start flagging down people to give her a ride to church, or else she would walk there herself," said Sayles.  

"We are saddened by this when it happens but we want to educate the public just to make sure that they know there are more and more people who are developing Alzheimer's," Sayles said.  

Sayles trains local law enforcement around South Georgia twice a year on how to recognize a person with the disease. The Alzheimer's association even has a medic alert/ safe return program that links up with law enforcement.  

"This is one way of registering with your local police department that you have somebody that is maybe prone to wander, so that the police department can be on top of the issue."   There are also I. D. Bracelets to help identify Alzheimer's patients.  

"When they have a loved one that is wandering or missing is call 911, get the police involved and make sure that people know this is somebody who has Alzheimer's."  

Sayles says if you have a loved one who is prone to wandering it is best to install door alarms in your home and keep a recent picture of them nearby.  Sayles says there are 120,000 people in Georgia with Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's Association helps at least ten families a month locate loved ones that have wandered off.  

To see more information on Alzheimer's disease click HERE.


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