Candles lighted for Alzheimer's Disease

  • ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE MYTHS AND FACTS:MYTH: Memory loss is a natural part of aging.

    TRUTH: Experts now recognize severe memory loss as a symptom of serious illness.

    MYTH: Alzheimer's disease is not fatal.

    TRUTH: Alzheimer's disease has ...

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  • ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE MYTHS AND FACTS:MYTH: Memory loss is a natural part of aging.

    TRUTH: Experts now recognize severe memory loss as a symptom of serious illness.

    MYTH: Alzheimer's disease is not fatal.

    TRUTH: Alzheimer's disease has no survivors.

    MYTH: Only older people can get Alzheimer's.

    TRUTH: Alzheimer's affects people in their 30s, 40s and 50s, also called younger-onset Alzheimer's.

    MYTH: Aspartame causes memory loss.

    TRUTH: The FDA, has not been presented with any scientific evidence that would lead to a change on the safety of aspartame for most people.

    MYTH: Flu shots increase risk of Alzheimer's disease.

    TRUTH: Studies link flu shots to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and overall better health.

    Source: Alzheimer's Association

In a dimly lit chapel at First United Methodist Church, Joyce Martin led her 83-year-old mother, Dorothy Martin, to a front pew and helped her take a seat. Moments later, Dorothy Martin's name was read aloud to a crowd of about 15 people, while a small, white candle was lit on her behalf.

Part of November's National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, Victoria-based volunteers from the Alzheimer's Association have held a candlelight vigil for the past three years to remember those who've suffered with the degenerative brain disease, and those who continue to fight it.

Dorothy Martin is one such sufferer.

"Those of you with Alzheimer's don't need a special month since it affects your lives so greatly," Alzheimer's Association volunteer Kim Beckham said, as she began to read the names of more than 50 Alzheimer's patients and their families to the church.

It was about five years ago when Martin was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. And though she has little ability to understand her surroundings, she was at the church Monday night with her husband Owen Martin, and their daughter Joyce, to be honored by those who love her.

"It can be frustrating to have a conversation with her because she speaks a lot of gibberish," daughter Joyce Martin, said. "I miss her, big time."

Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of dementia, which slowly and painfully strips a person's ability to think, eat, talk, walk and perform basic daily tasks. There is currently no cure for the disease.

One by one, each of the candles were lit and gently placed in a long row at front of the church.

At the conclusion of the candle lighting, attendees of the service sat quietly in remembrance of their friends and family, and stared forward at the illuminating candles.

"I wish we could get more families involved in efforts like this because I know there are other people out there who deal with it," Joyce Martin said.

Since her mother's diagnosis, Martin said she moved in with her parents to assist with the round-the-clock care her mother requires.

"Dad takes really good care of her, but it became too much for him to handle alone, so I moved back in to help," Martin said. "We're doing our best to keep her out of a nursing home."

Martin said her mother has lost most of her ability to speak and needs help eating, dressing, bathing and completing simple tasks.

"Luckily, she's got a good disposition," she said.

Martin said she and her family are committed to promoting awareness about Alzheimer's Disease. In September, she helped raise more than $4,000 during the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk.

"If we could get more families to join in together to help raise money, we could knock it out," Martin said, lifting her mother's chin. "Right, Mom?"