‘That disease is terrible:’ Alzheimer’s Association hosts workshop connecting families with resources, more education
CAMBRIDGE, Md.- “Not knowing who you are was a challenge. Getting her to eat was a challenge,” said Moaney.
Those are Arlene Moaney words, describing life as a caregiver for her mother who battled with dementia before passing away. “I thought I knew how to take care of her, but really I didn’t because I wasn’t educated,” said Moaney.
That’s where the Alzheimer’s Association is stepping in. Tuesday, The Greater Maryland Chapter hosted their 2nd Connected Conversations on the Shore workshop in Cambridge. “There’s a lot of people that are passionate about this cause in communities across the state, including rural or underrepresented communities. We wanted to find those folks that are passionate and educate them to then go be force-multipliers for the Alzheimer’s association,” Greater Maryland Chapter Executive Director David McShea said.
There was a focus on the African American community, a group twice as likely to be impacted by the disease. They’re also more likely to have less Vitamin D which is crucial for brain health as Dr. David Ajibade explains. “Vitamin D is just extremely important not just for your bones or your teeth but also for brain functioning and brain protection,” said Dr. Ajbade.
Dr. Ajibade is the Director of the Brain & Body Foundation which focuses on research and treatments for brain disorders.
Along with giving caregivers and the community knowledge, speakers also thought it was important to dispel myths. “Right now, we have people in their 40’s and sometimes even as early as their 30’s being diagnosed with mild-cognitive impairment or early on-set Alzheimer’s. It’s something we didn’t address before so this is a migration,” Alzheimer’s Assocation Volunteer Murvell Delpino said.
As for Moaney, she’s now turning pain into purpose. She says she’s on a mission to give other families the tools she wishes she had. “You’ve got to be educated in order to deal with it. That disease is terrible,” said Moaney.
Dr. Ajibade tells 47ABC another factor that puts African Americans at a higher risk is lack of quality health care. He says most time physicians often lack the knowledge to properly care for that community.
Experts also tell us it’s also important to identify early warning signs and behaviors which lead to more accurate diagnoses.
The Alzheimer’s Association also has a 24/7 hotline. For more information, click here