Alzheimer's Association annual Walk in the Park slated for Aug. 10

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Nancy McClellan registers a participant in last year's annual "A Walk in the Park" for Alzheimer's. This year's event is set for Saturday, Aug. 10, with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. Participants are asked to meet at the Riverside Rotary Park south of the Clayton Ridge School. (Press photo by Shelia Tomkins)

By Caroline Rosacker

Dr. Alois Alzheimer first identified Alzheimer's disease in 1906. The two characteristics of the disease are plaques and tangles. Plaques are described as numerous tiny, dense deposits scattered throughout the brain. The plaques become toxic to brain cells at excessive levels. Tangles in the brain interfere with vital processes, eventually strangling off living cells. The two characteristics cause the brain cells to degenerate and die, making the brain shrink in certain regions. 

Alzheimer's disease is fatal. Individuals suffering from the disease will experience changes in how they think, feel and act. Symptoms and progression of the disease are difficult to predict. Each individual is affected differently.  

There are medications available to help with memory decline, language difficulties, motor skills and thinking abilities. These treatments can improve the patient's quality of life for several years.  

A healthy lifestyle is your greatest defense against Alzheimer's disease. Lowering your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and depression are key factors in the prevention of the disease. Unhealthy habits such as smoking, cognitive inactivity, and physical inactivity can increase your risk for Alzheimer's.  

"A Walk in the Park" for Alzheimer's

Join in the fight against Alzheimer's disease by attending Guttenberg's annual "A Walk in the Park" for Alzheimer's. The event is set for Saturday, Aug. 10, with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. Participants are asked to meet at the Riverside Rotary Park south of the Clayton Ridge School.  

Nancy McClellan, event organizer, has a personal connection to the disease. "Merlin Rausch, my father, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2002. Although Dad's side of the family has a lot of people that have suffered with Alzheimer's, he fell off the garage roof and the resulting head injury may have contributed to him having the rapid progression form. My mother was able to care for him at home for almost 10 years. We were lucky – he always knew who we were and it was his decision to enter the care center," she said.

McClellan explained, "After registration, walkers can head north to the marina and back, or south to the marina and back, or north to the marina — then south to the south marina and back — the full loop is about three miles. We will be registering walkers and accepting donations starting at 8:30 a.m. on the day of the event." 

McClellan requests walkers wear the color purple the day of the event. She is inviting businesses to consider collecting from their employees through a "Casual for the Cause" day where employees can choose to "dress down" for Alzheimer's. 

McClellan will be at the Guttenberg Farmer's Market each Saturday until the event date for those wishing to donate and sign up in advance of the walk. "I'll be collecting donations here in Guttenberg and through the official Alzheimer's Association website, (ALZ.ORG) – look up the team page for Guttenberg's Walk in the Park for Alzheimer's. All monies collected will be turned into the national Alzheimer's Association at the Dubuque Walk scheduled for early September," she commented. 

For additional information you can contact McClellan by phone at 563-880-3394 by e-mail at nancyjo@alpinecom.net or on the events Facebook page. 

Forget Me Not Alzheimer's Support Group

If you have been diagnosed, or are a caregiver for someone affected by Alzheimer's disease, Guttenberg has a support group. The Forget Me Not Alzheimer's Support group is facilitated by Dave Poggenklass and Joan Eulberg, and meets the last Thursday of each month from 7-8 p.m. at Living Water Bible Church located at 119 Highway 52 South, in Guttenberg. You don't have to make an appointment or reservation – just come. All are welcome. 

For additional information on the support group you may contact Poggenklass at 563-880-1592 or Joan Eulberg at 563-880-4921.

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