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Homewood Residence's coffee open house fights for Alzheimer's awareness

By Elena Watts
July 17, 2013 at 2:17 a.m.


Know the 10 signs of Alzheimer's disease

• Memory loss that disrupts daily life.

• Challenges in planning or solving problems.

• Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.

• Confusion with time or place.

• Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.

• New problems with words in speaking or writing.

• Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.

• Decreased or poor judgment.

• Withdrawal from work or social activities.

• Changes in mood and personality.

Source: http://www.alz.org

Kelly Henke sees every day what Alzheimer's disease has taken away from her 96-year-old grandmother.

Henke's grandmother lives at Homewood Residence at Victoria, which is hosting a coffee open house at 10 a.m. July 26 to raise awareness for Alzheimer's research and recruit for Victoria's Walk to End Alzheimer's on Sept. 7.

Residents living with Alzheimer's and their family members are expected to be at the open house to talk with guests about the importance of research.

Henke supports Homewood's efforts.

"When you're told you have cancer, the doctors say let's try chemo and radiation," Henke said. "With Alzheimer's, there's nothing they can do except slow the symptoms."

Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, said Belinda Benavidez, program specialist with the Alzheimer's Association. More than 5 million people live with the disease, and one in three seniors dies from Alzheimer's or another dementia.

Henke participates in the walk and gives money to the Alzheimer's Association because she believes a cure needs to be found.

"It's hard to understand because my grandmother is so healthy," Henke said. "Everything else functions - all her organs are fine."

Henke's grandmother received in-home care as long as possible. But as the confusion progressed, so did the dangers.

Henke takes comfort knowing her grandmother is safe at Homewood on days when she is most confused.

The 2-mile walk around downtown Victoria, sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association, begins and ends at DeLeon Plaza. Last year, the walk registered 230 participants and raised $51,000 despite rainy conditions. This year, the association hopes to attract 250-300 walkers and raise $56,000.

Homewood aims to build a team of 100, and the association suggests each member donate or raise $100.

Aside from the walk, some participants host personal events, such as bake sales, to raise money.

"Alzheimer's has impacted the community so much lately," said Diane Galarza, sales and marketing director for Homewood. "Three residents have passed away in the last six months, so it's been hard on the families and several churches."

In addition to raising money, the walk offers professional resources, Galarza said.

Homewood staff will be available to help and answer questions, she added.

Homewood has 109 rooms that provide independent, assisted and memory care living arrangements.

"This community embraces the Alzheimer's cause in a big way," Galarza said.

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