ALZHEIMER’S AWARENESS: Overcoming The Stigma

September is World Alzheimer’s Month.  It’s a time to raise awareness about the disease while supporting the millions of families battling it.

“They think that isn’t even possible.  Well it is possible,” says 53-year-old John Sandblom. 

When you think about people with Alzheimer’s, Sandblom isn`t the face that normally comes to mind.  He first started showing signs of dementia in his late 40`s.

“I can really only concentrate on one thing at a time, I can’t multi-task,” says Sandblom.

That was his first clue something wasn’t right. He’d never had any problems before.  Then last year, Sandblom was officially diagnosed with atypical Alzheimer’s.

“This last year, I’ve definitely noticed issues with my memory.  That really bothers me,” he says. 

Sandblom knows the symptoms all too well after caring for his father who died from the disease.  He tries not to think about what`s ahead for his family.

“I call it our largest support group. It’s support for family members, it’s support for people who have the disease,” says Melissa Kramer with the Greater Iowa Alzheimer’s Association. 

This Friday, people are encouraged to wear purple to show their support.  They’re also invited to the Walk to End Alzheimer`s Saturday morning at Principal Park.  Registration starts at 8 AM.  Visit the Alzheimer’s Association website for more information or call 800.272.3900.

“People do not realize that this is not an old person’s disease and it’s one of those misconceptions,” says Kramer.

“I just feel a real sense of responsibility that while I’m able to, to do everything I can to help the cause,” says Sandblom.

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