The month of June is also known as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Currently over 55 million people are living with Alzheimer’s or another form of Dementia, this includes more than 6 million Americans, this number is only expected to increase by 2050. While Alzheimer’s and Dementia are related, there are certain differences between the two.
B.J. Sander the program manager of the Alpen Senior Citizen Center explains the difference between the two, “Dementia is an umbrella for your cognitive issues and Alzheimer’s comes underneath that umbrella. When you start having cognitive issues its sometimes a sign. If I leave my keys in the freezer that could be a little bit of an issue.”
One of the things the Alpena Senior Center is trying to do is reach out to the community and find those individuals who are struggling with cognitive issues. The center would like to offer those individuals with help from one of their cognitive support programs. Sander says, “So, we have several programs, we have a program called ‘You Are Not Alone’ and that’s not really a support group but it kind of sort of is a support group. We meet twice a month, Annie will usually meet with the people and the caregivers and I’ll usually in the conference room, which is where we’re at right now, with the individuals with the cognitive issue.”
Sander adds, “So, we can have a little bit of a separation here and the caregivers are freer to speak and we usually have a lot of fun here in the conference room doing some different activities. We offer a program called ‘Dementia Friends’. Annie and I are both trained in that particular program so we can go out into the community, local organizations and teach them what to look for with those individuals who are in the community and may be having some cognitive issues.”
Later on this month on June 29th, the center will be hosting the ‘Longest Day’ fundraiser, also know as ‘Paint the Town Purple’. There will be a $5 donation for rock painting and doodle word, and there will be food vendors as well. Sander says, “We are participating in the ‘Longest Day’ this year and that’s on June the 29th. We’re calling it the ‘Paint the Town Purple’ because purple is the Alzheimer’s color. We’ll be doing an all day event here at the center starting off with some activities, rock painting, working with some word doodling. For the two activities, it’s $5 per activity and that because this is a fundraiser for the Longest Day event.”