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Association pushes Alzheimer's education, outreach

Star Beacon - 5/16/2019

May 16-- May 16--ASHTABULA -- There are 5.7 million people in the United States who suffer from Alzheimer's Disease, and more than 16 million people act as unpaid caregivers for them, according to the Alzheimer's Association, which values that unpaid care at $234 billion.

About 30 area residents attended an Alzheimer's Association forum Tuesday at the Ashtabula Library. Members of the Cleveland chapter of the Alzheimer's Association hosted the event in an attempt to educate the public and learn from the community.

Cynthia Davenport, education and outreach specialist at the Cleveland Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, gave a brief introduction to Alzheimer's, and the dangers it presents.

The Alzheimer's Association expects there to be 14 million Americans living with Alzheimer's by 2050, Davenport said. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's, and its causes are largely unknown.

There are some gene mutations that guarantee that a person will get Alzheimer's, but that is not the only cause. Age is the greatest risk factor, followed by family history and genetics. Davenport said.

In the past, dementia was considered a normal part of aging, to an extent.

"We know that (Alzheimer's is) not normal; it's not normal for the aging process," she said.

Among the symptoms of Alzheimer's are memory loss that disrupts daily life, difficulty completing normal tasks and changes in mood and personality, according to the Association. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Along with education, attendees split into a smaller groups to discuss what the Alzheimer's Association could do for Ashtabula County.

Tuesday was the second such event for the Cleveland Alzheimer's Association, after a similar discussion in Lake County, as the association seeks to expand its reach. The organization will be compiling its findings into a report in the coming months, with a summary of what they learned from the event and what steps they were taking based.

For more information, contact the Cleveland Alzheimer's Association at 216-342-5560.

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