DeKALB – Like many baby boomers, Debbie Terpstra has become more concerned with her health as she ages.
But the Elburn resident has more reason than most: Her mother, uncle, aunt and two grandparents all have suffered from dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s website, Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and family history is a major risk factor.
“My mom is 75, and she’s had it for quite some time,” Terpstra said. “I’m 54. It’s scary.”
That fear was displaced with a little bit of hope and some smiles Sunday as Terpstra and hundreds of other locals took part in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Hopkins Park in an effort to raise awareness and money that will go toward finding a cure.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, nerological disorder that imparts gradual memory loss, impairment of judgment, disorientation and personality change in its victims. No cure for the disease has been found.
“For the families that are taking care of loved ones or maybe lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s, it’s a good way to team up for a great cause,” said Marilyn Palazzo, the regional hospice coordinator at Transitions Hospice.
Transitions Hospice teamed up with The Lincolnshire Place, an assisted-living facility in Sycamore, to raise more than $9,000 for the three-mile walk through the park. All told, the event brought together 301 participants representing 35 teams to raise $45,250 in the event’s third year in DeKalb.
“New walks grow faster than some of the other walks,” said Jennifer Ratkovic, a manager of special events with the Alzheimer’s Association. “I think from the first to the second year it almost doubled, and now we’re already ahead of where we were last year. It’s really nice to see the enthusiastic people here in DeKalb.”
Kim Zamora, the executive director of The Lincolnshire Place, said she was approached by the Alzheimer’s Association to help get the walk off the ground for the first time in DeKalb in 2010.
Zamora’s facility specializes in memory care, and it’s where Terpstra turned when she needed a place for her ailing mother to live.
“It was hard trying to find a place because there aren’t many memory-care places,” Terpstra said. “There’s always a waiting list, and we didn’t have time to wait.”
Ratkovic said money raised by the event would go toward Alzheimer’s research but some also would go to the charity’s support programs.
“We have free educational programs to help people with Alzheimer’s as well as their families and caregivers,” she said. “We also have support groups, one-on-one care navigation with social workers and a 24-7 help line.”