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Walk To End Alzheimers on the North Shore Next Month

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the fifth-lead­ing cause of death for Americans over 65.

According to the National Center for Bio­technology Information, part of the US Na­tional Institute of Health, between 2000 and 2019, deaths from stroke, heart disease, and HIV decreased. In contrast, reported deaths from AD increased by more than 145%.

The Alzheimer’s Association reports, “Those living in rural America are more like­ly to develop the disease, less likely to re­ceive an early diagnosis, and more likely to encounter barriers when seeking assistance.”

People like Julie Wilson, Executive Di­rector at Care Partners of Cook County, are working with the Association to help its ef­forts to bring increased local awareness of AD, treatment options, and resources for help.

Wilson pointed out that there are no assisted living facilities in Cook County and no indi­cation that there might be any in the foresee­able future. The nearest healthcare specialists in the dementia arena are in Duluth, as is an office of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Among the hopeful things Wilson sees is that Care Partners is building a community that supports the caregivers of patients with AD and other dementias.

Minnesota had 99,000 AD cases in 2020. It is projected to have 120,000 by 2025, an increase of over 21%

Dementia is a word that describes a loss of memory and other thinking abilities that interfere with a person’s daily life and cov­ers several medical conditions. AD is one of those, and it causes 60-80% of all dementia cases.

Although the diagnosis and treatment of AD and its resulting dementia have improved in recent years, there is still much to do. Care Partners of Cook County plans to participate in a nationwide effort to raise awareness, encourage those in our community who are impacted by dementia, and support the Alzheimer’s Association’s education and research efforts.

The Walk To End Alzheimer’s will be held in Grand Portage and Duluth/ Superior Saturday, September 9. In Grand Marais, Saturday, September 23. The Alzheimer’s Association website lists ten warning signs for the disease, including memory loss that disrupts daily life. It adds that typical age-related changes that lead to forgetting names and appointments but remembering them later are relatively routine.

There is a condition called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) that causes changes severe enough to be noticed by the person affected, their family, or friends. It can be an early stage of AD, and 12% to 18% of those over 60 are affected by MCI. Not all will develop dementia, but 10% to 15% of those affected will develop dementia each year. The annual Medicare physical usually has a review of the cognitive condition of the patient.

Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to managing AD, so people are encouraged, at any age, to discuss any symptoms of cognitive impairment with a medical professional. Look for further details about the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in future editions of the Northshore Journal. For Cook County-specific information, you can email info@carepart-nersofcookcounty.org  or see http://act.alz.org/goto/grandmarais

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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