The threat of Alzheimer’s is real. This is why I volunteer with and support The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado. No immediate members of my family have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but I have some extended family members that have/had the disease. My Pastor’s husband died with Alzheimer’s. I don’t remember the man, because he was ill with the disease when I met him as a child. From what my Pastor speaks about her husband, he was an exceptional man. He was respected by his church as a Deacon, and an excellent provider for his wife and nine children.
I have an Uncle who’s wife’s mom and dad have/had Alzheimer’s. Her mom is still alive, but her dad passed away with the disease. He served as mayor of his city, Altheimer, AR. I wasn’t familiar with former Mayor Fred Martin, but I did meet his wife. I remember during family reunions, my Aunt would have her mom re-fold t-shirts to keep her busy, while others enjoyed the family reunion festivities. I understand eventually, they had to put Mrs. Martin in a nursing home.
These three examples of people with great minds getting Alzheimer’s proves, as Alzheimer’s Association board member, and fellow member of The Association’s African American Advisory Committee, Phillip Heath states, “Alzheimer’s is an equal opportunity destroyer.” There is a form of dementia called “younger-onset Alzheimer’s,” that can occur in the 40-50 age group. This concerns me, because I’m getting older.
I appreciate that the Alzheimer’s Association has a multicultural outreach that caters to African Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities. I’ve volunteered on The Helpline, which is a great first contact for people that have questions about Alzheimer’s. Being a member of The African American Advisory Committee, has granted me great opportunities to meet and engage with important people of our time. People like Dr. Ben Carson, Neurosurgeon and Dr. Huntington Potter.
Now the Alzheimer’s Association, through staff member, Rosalyn Reese and The African American Advisory Committee, have launched an enterprising plan called, “Purple Power Champions Initiative.” It’s about going to black churches, via their health ministries to bring awareness about Alzheimer’s. Since African Americans are more likely to get Alzheimer’s then other ethnic groups, it makes sense that African Americans, and people in general get educated about the disease [African Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's due to the correlation of the disease to high blood pressure and diabetes both of which have a higher incidence among blacks and Hispanics]. The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado also has many free classes and courses available to the public.
Not only has the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado made me more aware about the seriousness of this deadly disease called Alzheimer’s, the Association is fun! I enjoy the annual fundraisers, Walk To End Alzheimer’s and The Blonde vs. Brunette Flag Football Game. The staff and volunteers I’ve met at the Alzheimer’s Association are good people to know. So whether you are African American, or any other ethnic group or race, The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado is a good organization to utilize and support. I am proud to be associated with this organization.
Tokunbo Joseph Olowookere