Alzheimer’s forum hopes to create disease awareness

Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles is holding its first local event this month focusing on Alzheimer’s disease and brain health. For Playa del Rey resident and Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles board member, Chad Cole, the forum is an opportunity for people to not only get information, but also a chance to help change how the disease is perceived. Cole, who is a local real estate agent, has a personal connection with the devastating disease. His grandmother,  Edith Snyder, suffered from the disease for over 10 years before passing away, an experience that was profoundly heartbreaking for him and his family.

“Watching a person deteriorate like that is truly a heartbreaking experience. Nothing can really describe the feeling of watching a loved one, once filled with life, spend their last years without the ability to function on the most basic human level,” said Cole. “Not only does the person afflicted with the disease become a shell of who they once were, the family and caregivers lives are also drastically affected by the disease. The role of a caregiver quickly becomes a full-time job.  With limited resources, caregivers, predominantly women, are often forced to put their lives and careers on hold in order for their loved one to receive the care they deserve.”

An estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and related dementia. While there is a stigma that it’s an “old” person’s disease, Early-Onset Alzheimer’s strikes individuals under the age of 65, and symptoms can even present in people in their thirties. For Cole, this makes the need for enhanced treatment, and ultimately a cure, all the more urgent.

“Imagine being in the prime of your career, but unable to do your job. Imagine not being able to enjoy your kids growing up and going to college,” said Cole. “Imagine having a parent with the disease and not being able to go to college because there is nobody else to take care of your loved one. These are all very real scenarios that play out every day.”

Cole says that although Alzheimer’s advocates have potentially secured $350 million for research from Congress this year, an unpassed budget has left this funding in limbo.

Meanwhile his organization, Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles, is always raising money for research and to fund its program. The organization provides a variety of free services including care consultations, community education, caregiver training and support groups for people and families navigating the disease’s difficult road. There is also a 24-hour helpline (844.HELP.ALZ), where people can get information and emotional support.

Educating the community is the goal of the Wednesday, March 8, Alzheimer’s and Brain Health Forum held at the Westchester Senior Center, located at 8740 Lincoln Blvd. in Westchester. The event will run from 6 to 8 p.m. There attendees will learn about the signs and signals of dementia and Alzheimer’s and hear from Dr. Edmond Teng who will discuss memory loss and what people can do to keep their brains healthy.

“If you have ever had any questions about Alzheimer’s, perhaps you have a family history or you suspect that you or a loved one might be showing signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia, and you want to learn more, this forum is for you,” said Cole.

To RSVP or for more info, please visit westchesteralzforum.eventbrite.com.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles, visit www.alzgla.org/get-involved.

March 2017.

Pictured: Chad Cole is encouraging the community to attend the Alzheimer’s and Brain Health Forum if you want to learn more about the disease.