DORIS CARSON WILLIAMS
by Christian Morrow, Courier Staff Writer
Of the five million Americans suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, 280,000 live in Pennsylvania. Roughly 4,000 of them will die from the disease despite the efforts of 675,000 caregivers, most of whom are unpaid family members—and that’s just Alzheimer’s. There are other forms of dementia that are equally devastating.
In an effort to give its members and the general public a better understanding of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania, in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, will present “Brain Health” Keys to Successful Aging, a series of free workshops related to dementia/Alzheimer’s disease.
“This is a subject where everyone we’ve talked with has a family member or friend dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s and people don’t know the difference,” said Chamber President and CEO Doris Carson Williams. “We will have ask-the-experts sessions so people can become better educated. They can also get information on early warning signs, and we’ll have sessions on home care and hospital care, and we’ll comment on recent media reports about treatment.”
The primary difference is that dementia is a symptom and can be brought about by a number of factors including other diseases, and in some instances can be reversed. Alzheimer’s is a progressive degenerative disease characterized by memory loss, confusion about time or place and mood swings. It primarily strikes individuals over 65 and is currently incurable.
Williams said the university contacted the Chamber because of the successful series of seminars on diabetes it held three years ago.
“The Chamber is always interested in initiatives around healthcare, and they knew that. So it has worked out well,” she said. “We are currently sending out notifications to churches and community groups so they can get involved as well. It’s free and open to the public, people just have to register.”
The first session will be held Wednesday, Sept. 11, from 3-5 p.m., at the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, 2425 Sydney St., Pittsburgh, 15203, and will be led by Dr. Jeannette E. South-Paul, Andrew W. Mathieson UPMC Professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. To register, call 412-392-0610. You must register by Monday, Sept. 9.
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