Marv Welstead is excited about Alzheimer’s research and an upcoming meeting.
The Nye Alzheimer’s Support Group in Fremont has rescheduled its monthly meeting to 2 p.m. Nov. 29 at Nye Legacy.
Admission is free and the meeting is open to the public.
During the meeting, Dr. Tony Wilson and Alex Wiseman at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha will talk about a grant received from the Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Collaboration for “Alzheimer’s memory.”
The men will show how Alzheimer’s attacks the brain. They’ll talk about bio markers in the brain, Welstead said.
Besides looking forward to the meeting, Welstead also is pleased with the results of a local event — the recent Memory Walk to Cure Alzheimer’s.
That event, which took place on Sept. 30, raised more than $79,367, said Welstead, honorary chairperson of the collaboration.
“This is the most we’ve ever raised in our Memory Walks,” Welstead said.
Welstead noted that, years ago, a man did donate $65,000, but this year’s sum is the most raised during the regular walks.
“Forty percent (of funds raised) will be used for caregiver education and 60 percent will be used for research,” Welstead said.
Nearly 175 people participated in the 2017 walk.
“We are so excited because of the support we’re getting from the Fremont area. We have people now coming from Valley, Elkhorn, Hooper-Scribner, Arlington and North Bend who are all part of the walk,” Welstead said.
Donations support caregiver programs and critical research.
Welstead points to comments by Dr. Ronald Petersen of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who has said if Alzheimer’s can be detected in the early stages that through medicine its progress can be delayed for years.
“Doctors are saying that we’ve learned more in research in the last five years than we did in the previous 50 years,” Welstead said.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s.
“But we’re reaching the point where we know how to approach it,” Welstead said.
It’s important for people to attend meetings such as the one at Nye Legacy, because they can learn what to look for regarding symptoms of Alzheimer’s and the support group is designed to help them cope when working with family members who have Alzheimer’s, he added.
The Alzheimer’s Association defines the disease as “a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.”
Symptoms typically develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
Welstead said patients first lose their memory, then their speech and then control of their bodily functions. Their immune system weakens to the point that their heart doesn’t work anymore. The disease leads to death.
Welstead’s wife, Jean, suffered from Alzheimer’s for eight years before her death in July 2009.
The disease has affected many other people, including the late singer Glen Campbell and President Ronald Reagan.
Reagan’s symptoms were first diagnosed in 1994. Welstead said a medication called Aricept, which could have helped Reagan, wasn’t approved until 1996. Another medication called, Namenda, which helps slow memory loss, didn’t come on the market until 2010.
The Alzheimer’s Association states that of “the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2017, an estimated 5.3 million are age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals are under age 65 and have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.”
Research is critical to finding a cure.
“Our (the local group’s) goal is that someday Alzheimer’s patients will be taking medicine daily just like a heart patient takes aspirin to delay the disease for years,” Welstead said.
For more information, call Welstead at 402-721-3726.